A study of the archetype of the hero's journey in Saud Al-Sanousi's novel of Bamboo Stem

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Associate Professor of Arabic Language & Literature-Birjand University

2 Ph.D. Student of Persian Language & Literature-Birjand University



Introduction: The archetype of the awakening of the hero involves his path toward perfection and dream of individuality with focus on some other archetypes. During the journey, the hero attains a profound understanding of himself and the ultimate meaning of life. The novel The Bamboo Stalk was written by the Kuwaiti writer Saud Alsanousi and is worth examining with a focus on the evolution of the protagonist. The current research aims to study the process of a character’s (Isa) evolution in The Bamboo Stalk, using the archetype of the hero’s journey and then answering the question ‘Which archetypes of a hero’s journey are found in this novel?’ The Bamboo Stalk has not been examined via the lens of archetypal criticism yet, and the present research seeks to analyze this work through the viewpoint of the hero’s journey archetype.
Methodology: To expand Joseph Campbell’s ideas in The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Carol S. Pearson and Hugh K. Marr, in a book entitled “My Graceful Life”, studied the hero’s journey plot, which is a pattern of the development of individuality. They believe that the character attains a deeper understanding of himself during this journey and eventually becomes aware of his talents and the intended meaning of life. Pierson proposes twelve archetypes and believes that, in each phase of human’s life, one of these archetypes dominates a person’s life. Overall, he classifies the mythical path of every individual into three different parts, each of which is associated with its own especial archetypes. Using these ideas and a descriptive-analytic approach, the current research explores the process of Isa’s personality evolution and development in the novel The Bamboo Stalk.
Results and Discussion: The research findings indicate that the plot of The Bamboo Stalk involves the hero’s journey. In this novel, the procedure and process of individuality development are highly visible through the archetypes. During the journey, Isa actually shifts from unconsciousness to self-consciousness. In the first phase, he faces numerous obstacles and problems to start the journey. He starts the journey as an innocent character, expecting others to provide him with the most ideal kind of life. Also, due to suffering too much pain and misery, he experiences the orphan archetype.
Through this journey, Isa gets more and more experienced, dealing with numerous difficulties and experiencing the archetypes associated with this phase of the journey. As an annihilator, he causes too many troubles for his family. As an adventurer, he looks for the answers to his questions as well as his true identity on this journey. As a family-oriented person, he brings peace to them. In his childhood dreams, Kuwait was considered a heaven-like place, where he could make all his dreams come true. In contrast, this is where he goes through a hard time for several years because, despite having various properties, he did not feel at home there. Yet, as a result of all this hardship, his character and individuality are developed.
Isa is a magician who finds his intended identity by changing his viewpoint. However, this identity does not depend on a specific nationality or religion. Isa is a wise man who switches between his motherland and fatherland as well as their different religions and languages. He finds the solution to this problem in the course of this story. After getting acquainted with various religions, he concludes that all of them are satisfactory enough. The dominant archetype lets him write his novel in Filipino language, despite having both Filipino as well as Kuwaiti identification cards. At the end of the story, he is an adult male who is the father of a kid in the same field where his grandfather grew up once. He names the kid after his father and the fatherland. His return to the place that he adores is a representation of clown archetype.
Conclusion: The study of the process of the evolution and development of Isa’s personality in the novel, The Bamboo Stalk, indicates that this process is generally consistent with the hero’s journey archetype. In this novel, the hero overcomes his personal and local boundaries; he dies as a person without identity, still searching for one. Yet, as a perfect human being who belongs to the whole world and cherishes every nation, he is reborn. His crucial mission is to return to his motherland with a new thought system to teach the lessons he had learned while living in Kuwait. In this way, he experiences all the archetypes associated with this perfection journey.


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