More Notes and Questions on Mahfouz's The Day the Leader Was Killed


(27) our very first leader = Gamal Abdul Nasser; another leader = Anwar Sadat.

(53) the late hero = Gamal Abdul Nasser; the hero of victory and peace = Anwar Sadat. In a three-week war with Israel in 1973, "initial Egyptian and Syrian advances . . . were followed by later Israeli counterattacks." However, the outcome was ambiguous enough for "both Egypt and Syria to present the war of October 1973 as an Arab victory" (Jankowski). (See pp. 27, 45-46, 90, and 94.)

(54) My friend Begin = Menachem Begin, Prime Minister of Israel. Sadat visited Jerusalem in 1977; in 1978, Israel and Egypt concluded two agreements at Camp David. In 1979 a formal peace treaty was signed.

(76) declare a revolution on May 5 "The Parties Law of May 1977 specifying guidelines for the formation of political parties set stringent requirements for legal recognition of the parties" (Jankowski). and then annul it on September 5? "By September 1981, when the government carried out a massive wave of arrests in which over fifteen hundred critics and opponents of the regime from across the political spectrum were incarcerated, Sadat had forfeited much of the legitimacy that his earlier efforts at political liberalization had won for him" (Jankowski).

(90) Victory Day = "In Egypt, the date of Egypt's crossing of the Suez into Sinai, October 6, 1973, became a national holiday; Sadat now became 'the Hero of the Crossing'" (Jankowski). Sadat was assassinated on October 6, 1981.

(96) Death saved him from madness. "Sadat . . . became much more short-tempered after 1979 as domestic and Arab criticism of his policies mounted. His response to a question at a press conference in 1981—'In the old days I could have had you shot for that'—demonstrated a grimmer persona than the avuncular image he had cultivated in happier years" (Jankowski).

1. Name some reasons why Elwan and Randa cannot marry.

2. Why do you think Elwan gives Randa her freedom? (What sort of freedom does she get? In what ways could she obtain greater freedom?)

3. What part do you think Anwar expected Randa to play? Why do you think Randa asks for and gets a divorce?

4. Who sells him / herself in the novel? (See pp. 59, 68, 73, 79, 87.) In what ways can you connect selling out with playing a part (61, 67, 73) and following what "reality dictates" (71)? What happens when people refuse to sell anymore?

5. Why do you think Elwan attacks Anwar? Why do you think he decides to turn himself in? In what ways can you connect the two deaths of Anwar Allam and Anwar Sadat? In what ways can you connect the political and the personal? (Connect with the thoughts on death on pp. 77, 96, and 103.)

6. Who do you think is responsible for the tragedies of Anwar Sadat, Anwar Allam, and Elwan?

Work Cited

Links: Naguib Mahfouz
The Nobel Prize Naguib Mahfouz Page

The Official Nobel Prize Mahfouz Page

A Mahfouz Bibliography:

A Newsweek story on Mohammed Atta's Cairo neighborhood (loads slowly):

Background to Egyptian History since 1952

Egypt, a Short History, chapter 8

The Muslim Brotherhood
Home Page of The Muslim Brotherhood
 The Misery of the Brotherhood, The Misery of Egypt, the Misery of Us All (World Press Review)

Back to:
ENG 303 Syllabus
ENG 303 Links