Gift-Giving in “Gifts” by Nuruddin Farah Essay (Critical Writing)

July 2, 2022 by Essay Writer

Updated: Feb 3rd, 2021

How does Nuruddin Farah correlate such discussed fundaments of the idea of gift-giving as dependence and reciprocity with many other significant concepts of obligation, hostility, obedience, and gratitude, which are presented in the novel Gifts as the possible reaction to multiple situations of gift-giving?

This question is formulated as a result of rethinking the ideas presented by Peter Singer in his book in the context of Nuruddin Farah’s novel and messages. Singer discusses the people’s motives to spend or not money in order to help those persons who are really in need and who suffer from hunger and poverty (Singer 5). That is why it is important to focus on the motives influential for the process of gif giving and givers and receivers’ emotions and feelings associated with the procedure. According to the ideas presented in Farah’s book, “every gift has a personality – that of its giver” (Farah 197). This opinion can be compared with Singer’s ideas in order to correlate the concepts of dependence and reciprocity with feelings of obligation, hostility, obedience, and gratitude, which can be experienced by a receiver as the reaction to the giver’s emotions and motives.

Many different variants of gift-giving situations are discussed in the novel in order to present the moral complexity of the situation, which can be related not only to personal issues but also to social and political events. The extremes of the people’s reactions to gift-giving can be analyzed with references to Farah’s ideas. From this point, much attention is paid to the individual approach to the idea of gift-giving as the exchange of services and feedbacks because any gift provokes a certain reaction, which can be positive or negative depending on the context of the situation and the gift itself.

Why does Duniya discuss gifts only as of the statement of the person’s dependence on the other people and, as a result, demonstrate independence and freedom in relation to deciding about receiving gifts and paying for them as donations?

Duniya is the protagonist of Nuruddin Farah’s novel Gifts. The young woman’s reaction to gift-giving is interesting because the discussion of this reaction can add to Peter Singer’s vision of the necessity to be generous in relation to the people of the Third World (Singer 5-7). What emotions are experienced by those people who receive assistance? To describe Duniya’s attitude, Farah uses such concepts as “unasked-for generosity” and “a labyrinth of dependence” (Farah 22). Duniya supports the specific view in relation to the idea of gift-giving. The young woman is inclined to forbid her children to receive any gifts presented by other people (Farah 129-131). It is possible to state that Duniya’s attitude to gift-giving is typical for those persons who suffered from definite types of dependence caused by the situation, and it is important to determine the facts and situations from Duniya’s personal life which affect her approach to gift-giving and focus on prudence and independence.

How do Nuruddin Farah’s novel Gifts present the concept of gift-giving not only in relation to the persons’ communication and relationships but also through the lens of the social and political situations in Somalia during the period of the 1980s-1990s and with references to the associated international political issues?

This question needs further detailed discussion because the social and political background is necessary to examine the problem of gift-giving in Somalia during the late 1980s and early 1990s. According to Peter Singer, everyone can contribute to reducing poverty or making more people happy without affecting the personal income significantly, and gift-giving of that type is important in order not to feel guilty while observing the sufferings of the other people (Singer xiv). This question comes into mind while referring to the problematic social and political situation in Somalia during the discussed period because of focusing on the developed civil war actions and the attempts of the international community to influence the process. Singer discusses the motives of people to reduce poverty in developing countries and claims to concentrate on positive and fair motives to act. From this point, it is important to analyze the motives of the foreign forces to assist the Somali people during the civil war of 1991, which contributed to spreading terror and tragedy in Somalia.

Nevertheless, the idea of gift-giving is connected with all the aspects of the novel’s plot. That is why the controversial social and political in the country work only as of the background for depicting the story of the young woman Duniya who has to fight for creating better living conditions for her children. Duniya can be characterized by the specific attitude to the situation and process of gift-giving, and this vision is accentuated by the novel’s author in order to be also reflected in the situation of the political relations of Somalia with the other countries. As a result, it is necessary to identify the techniques and approaches with the help of which Nuruddin Farah is inclined to associate the concept of gift-giving related to the personal life of the Somali with the idea of gift-giving in the larger social and political context.

Works Cited

Farah, Nuruddin. Gifts. USA: Arcade Publishing, 1993. Print.

Singer, Peter. The Life You Can Save. New York, NY: Random House, 2009. Print.

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