The Monkey and the Man

Feire

“Dehumanization, although a concrete historical fact, is not a given destiny but the result of an unjust order that engenders violence in the oppressors, which in turn dehumanizes the oppressed” –  Paulo Freire, Source: Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Much to the tone of the novel Utopia, the fundamental principle of dehumanization rests in ability for one to deprive a person of the natural qualities that make us “human”. The act of dehumanization is deeply rooted in the socioeconomic constraints that exist in a society; like those that consumed the German-Italian sentiment in the 20th century. Utopia paints a grotesque variation of the term defined above. At first glance, the chapter titles themselves suggest animal-like qualities, “Predator” and “Prey”. Throughout the text we witness this underlying theme of of a hunt, and all the elements that follow, such as death and killing. From the very start of the book the narration guides the readers into this birds-eye view the class struggle and inequality that Egypt faces. “Utopia, where death retreats behind barbed wires and becomes nothing but a game that adolescence dream of …” (Towfik, 6).

The idea of Allah going out on a hunt to track down, torture, kill, and keep the corpse of an ‘Other’ is very barbaric – Like some kind of fixed game hunt, where only the fittest survive. Or more realistically, those with access to more resources. The narrator mentions multiple human-animal associations ranging from rats, wolves, chickens, bugs, to even monkeys. In this respect dehumanization really supports the “class-conflict” that I previously mentioned, and almost gives it validity. Throughout the entity of the book many people are refereed to or even treated like animals. It opens with US Marines shooting down a civilian in the desert and then checking the body to make sure it was dead, like hunting big game. This idea carries through to the very end of novel when Allah is gunning down stampedes of Others in an effort to keep them from invading Utopia.

The author does an amazing job at illustrating this struggle coupled with the universal human struggle of purpose. In many way it’s disgusting how these individuals were treated based on the amount of wealth they were born into, but it is also eye opening to the realities of our current state of affairs in the world as a whole.

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