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I think that approaching any question in Mahfouz's work, one has to be careful. Given the fact that the work is allegory, the approach to analyzing it has to be a bit more broad. It is almost as if one stuck their hand in a pot of honey. The tighter one grasps, the more futile the effort. The same thing lies here because one has to examine what is in the story in its most symbolic of terms. When the father tells the boy that school and his experiences in it are what will make him "a man," there is much in way of symbolism. "School" might not be a pure "school," although that might be a part of it. Given the fact that the school is where the boy enters and upon his conclusion of it, the world, and he, have changed, we can see that the school is a symbol for life with all of its joys and sorrows. In this light, life, consciousness, the mere act of living in this world becomes its own "factory" where the maturation from childhood to adulthood takes place.
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