Last Updated on July 29, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 201
In "Half a Day" Mahfouz explores serious issues through a brief allegorical tale. The author's concern is the human experience.
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1. Themes in "Half a Day" include death, time, God, and the human condition. These concerns were influenced in part by Mahfouz's religious upbringing in an Islamic family. What are the fundamental beliefs of the religion of Islam? Which countries in the world are predominantly Islamic? How might Mahfouz's Islamic upbringing have impacted the central themes and concerns of "Half a Day"?
2. Westerners are generally familiar with the ancient history of Egypt. What artistic and cultural styles are relevant to modern Egypt? Find out more about modern Egyptian art, music, or theater. What social and political factors have influenced modern artistic and cultural trends in Egypt?
3. Consider the limited role of the mother in "Half a Day." Is this a commentary on women in human society or more specifically in Egyptian society?
4. Characterize the relation of the narrator to the other schoolchildren.
5. Discuss the function and meaning of the narrator's encounter with the middle- aged man after school. Who or what does the man represent?
6. Ultimately, is Mahfouz's view of humanity optimistic or pessimistic (or neither) as indicated in "Half a Day"?