Throughout Ahmed Khaled Towfik’s Utopia, we are introduced to two vastly different male narrators: the humble, impoverished Gaber and entitled and twisted Alaa. Through these views, the question of “Where does the quest for love come into play in these two character’s lives?” still remains.
In our introduction to Alaa, we are presented with a young, well-off male who has no shortage of sexual partners: “I put in the new contact lenses that turn your pupils white. It has an exciting effect on girls when you look at them with eyes gone white, like you’re the Grim Reaper. It really blows them away” (5). To Alaa, and perhaps most of the men in Utopia, women are viewed as sexualized objects, there to provide pleasure rather than intimacy. He is no stranger to meaningless hook ups, viewing sex as a past-time where he can release pent up lust: “Is she sexually exciting? Maybe. But I know longer know if a girl is a turn-on or not since they all look alike down to the last detail” (9). It is made abundantly clear that this young man is not driven to search for something beyond sexual intercourse; he is more interested in a selfish need than an opportunity to experience deep feelings for a woman. In these instances, we as a reader learn that he does not seek love or a solid relationship, but rather insignificant sexual encounters.
Credit: Amanda Chapman, http://sketchbook.cheapjoes.com/2015/02/love-no-art-is-in-the-air/
On the opposite side of the spectrum, in meeting the impoverished Gaber, we see a man who “dream[s] of something beyond sex” (49). He is more intrigued by a connection that goes beyond sexual desire. In a moment of weakness and lust, Gaber is left alone with the vulnerable Germinal, and considers giving into his feelings. Suddenly, he imagines Germinal taking on the form of his sister becomes horrified at the thought. He asks himself if this is “the dominance of Utopia, or is it the power of sweeping conscience that makes you see every fragile, guileless girl as another Safiya?” (117). In these questions, we see that Gaber is aware of his lust, and yet pushes it away. He moves past the sexual urges, in an attempt to ground himself and perhaps even search for “something beyond”. The concept of a true, loving relationship can be found within Gaber and what he desires.
These two men are on the path of addressing sexual desires, and perhaps looking for love. Alaa will never seek anything beyond sexual fulfillment, whereas Gaber yearns for a connection surpassing a physical one. In these two men, we come to understand that there is a very different view of what exactly “love” can be in the world of Utopia–it is not found in sex, or hook ups, but a connection experienced between two individuals.