The ways in which the author, Tayeb Salih, illustrates the difference between North and South is slightly unclear in the sense in which he portrays the characters feelings towards the North. To look at the differences in a better light I will show what Tayeb Salih writes in his novel about the North and compare this view with one that he illustrates in the South.
A very significant part of the book is page three in which the protagonist has just returned. He is being questioned by all of those he left behind. They ask about his journey and the life he spent in Europe.
‘…there are some farmers among them. They’ve got everything – workers and doctors and farmers and teachers, just like us. I preferred not to say the rest that had come to mind: that just like us they are born and die…that some have been given more than they deserve by life, while others have been deprived by it, but that the differences are narrowing and most of the weak are no longer weak. I did not say this to Majhoub, though I wish I had done so…’
This passage is significant for the simple reason that it illustrates that the differences between the two cultures are virtually nothing. You can read this when referring to the other things the protagonist would rather not mention. You can tell that in addition to thinking the same of the two cultures he also describes the way in which both societies are corrupt as well as imperfect and more or less faulty. So in this passage it is shown that there are outside values which may seem different between the cultures but deep down the two cultures are almost exactly the same.
On pages 14 and 15 the protagonist is drinking with Mustafa and other men. He is confronted with the horror of an outsider living inside his home village. Defining outsider to the protagonist it is a person other than that of his culture or country; foreign. In this case it is Mustafa and his factor of difference is the fact that he speaks English as an Englishman himself would.
‘[poem] After that he gave a deep sigh, still holding the glass between his hands, his eyes wandering off into the horizon within himself. I tell you that had the ground suddenly split open and revealed and afreet standing before me, his eyes shooting out flames I would have not been bore terrified.’
This passage shows how the protagonist is concerned for the culture of his origin and how he is very scared at the loss his society might suffer from should they become intoxicated with the outside world. This shows criticism among the Africans of the northern world. Tayeb Salih shows a typical reaction which occurs among those who are dedicated to living their lives as their own specific culture tells them to and also wish for the culture to remain unchanged and indifferent throughout time. The protagonist shows how this is greatly the case among many African/Sudanese peoples. The ‘northern’ world however is ever more open to other cultures, very much so in comparison to the southern cultures, and therefore shows a huge culture difference. The southern cultures are many and different. This is because communications between them are little. This makes sure that a specific culture remains the same and untouched by others, making the culture even more closed, as it were.
One last point I wish to make concerning the difference in culture between the North and South is one concerning the slow infiltration of a different more universal of northern culture into that of the African persons.