Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 2

In the given excerpt from the novel The Book of Saladin by Tariq Ali, the speaker reflects back

on a significant incident of his childhood in first person narrative. The incident was of his conversation with his paternal grandmother, and through this reminiscence, the speaker accounts for one exception to all his other perceived characteristics that seemed to preclude him from becoming a person of power, the apparently innate valor that his grandmother thought remarkable. However, from the literary perspective, Ali conveys a deeper insight to this narrative, and that is the speakers masked emotion. Largely through the style and the structure of the passage, Ali communicates to the readers that the speaker in truth still doubts his own capabilities. In the first paragraph, the speaker briefly describes his past and then proceeds to talk about his present as a Sultan. Following this shift is also a change from the first-person I was (Line 1) statements to the statements direct addressing the readers in the form, You are (Line 4); from this narrative style, it can be inferred that the speaker does not hold great self-esteem. In the way that he says I was a very ordinary boy, (line 3) and my appearance and demeanor (Line 2-3) using himself as the direct subject, it can be inferred that he feels comfortable and confident about such statements. In comparison, the speaker puts the readers in the subject and says you see me now as a Sultan or you are impressed, (Lines 3-4) to talk of his present as a Sultan. This sudden change in the narrative style that coincides with the shift in time could be interpreted as the speakers lack of confidence in his present status. Whereas he directly states his insignificance as the younger son, he describes his current self from the spectators perspectiveinstead of a continuation in the form I am now the Sultan, for instanceindicating a lack of belief in his status as the Sultan. Another component of the style of this passage that communicates the speakers emotion is tone. Despite the rather serious atmosphere of the passage, the tone of it remains doubtful and incredulous through the use of diction. On his ascension to power, the speaker writes that it was what fate and history conspired (line 9) to do. The term conspire has a connotation of scheming specifically to commit unlawful actions, and by describing the making of his current status with such a term, he implies that his position is unjustified and unfounded. Even when speaking of the serpent story that apparently his mother had dreamt while being pregnant with the speaker, he uses the word interpretation (line 37) to categorize his grandmothers belief that the dream was an omen for him to be a powerful person. Interpretation again has a connotation of being merely subjective, hence unreliable. Rather obviously, from these dictions it could be inferred that he is still unconvinced of his own power and his rights to claim such status. The structure of this passage further emphasizes this point in that while the speakers main textual point is to show that he has become a different person than who he used to be, the structural shifts in time is followed by no change in the tone of the paragraphs; this on the contrary to the textual content, suggests that in truth, he is still the same weak kid. The passage consistently moves in setting from the past to the present, and Ali makes this obvious by the change of tense. However, no difference seems to exist in the way that the speaker describes his past-self and his current-self. When he recalls his childhood pastime of catching snakes, he undermines it as foolish (line 13)

despite his grandmothers approval of the game as to have shown the speakers bravado. Moreover, he mentions that the braver ones (line 14) among his group of friends crushed the snakes head, almost readily excluding himself from such characters. The fact that even in his reminiscence such characteristic of self-diminishing appears suggests that even now as the Sultan who could easily have people stumble in fear, he inwardly feels unjustified of his own power. The passage, from the contextual perspective, almost reads as though it delineates the speakers effort at self-promotion, as the stories that he tells per se seem to suggest that in actuality, his rise to power was foreshadowed despite his insignificance as the younger son. Such may be true. However, as unraveled by the literary components of the passage, the ultimate message of the passage that Ali tries to communicate I believe is not about whether the speaker really carries the valor as foreseen by the grandmother or not, but is rather about the doubts he still has about his own capabilities.