Essay on The Nightmare by William Saidi

Essay on The Nightmare by William Saidi

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The Nightmare begins with Saidi pitting his protagonist, Ben Chadiza, against his antagonist, the witchdoctor. A group of seven witchdoctors, is described as they encircle Chadiza: “It was a macabre scene, which in other circumstances the sophisticated Mr. Benjamin Chadiza would have carelessly attributed to his rather flamboyant imagination” (Saidi 421). The definitions of the specific words in this quote speak volumes as to its underlying meaning. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary macabre means: “comprising or including a personalized representation of death”. Mr. Chadiza is described as sophisticated: “having a refined knowledge of the ways of the world cultivated especially through wide experience.” In using these words Saidi gives Chadiza the identity of personified worldly knowledge and foreshadows the character’s courtship with death that continues through the story in the person of the witchdoctor. Saidi further identifies Chadiza and his wife as the “children” in this allegory by saying that Chadiza had “Cried like a small child” during his nightmare and upon awakening, was comforted by his wife in a way that resembles a mother comforting her child: “His wife put her arms around him and soothed him with her warmth, pressing her breasts to his chest and whispering comfort close to his ear” (422). The witchdoctor also refers to Chadiza as “my son” in paragraph 39 (425). Toward the end of the story it is revealed that Chadiza’s wife, Maria, is the biological granddaughter of the witchdoctor and that her mother had forsaken the witchdoctor “because of his sorcery” (427). Mr. Chadiza and his wife are therefore identified as the children of this sorcerer in figurative and literal ways. But they are more than that. The...

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...y move from indifference to reverence and from apathy into pride. The witchdoctor looses his frail hold on the fears of the villagers until finally he is met with “his own Armageddon” (426). Saidi’s choice of the word Armageddon to describe the witchdoctor’s death is indicative of his role as the representative for the “dark age” of the people and marks the end of his reign: “The site or time of a final and conclusive battle between the forces of good and evil” (Merriam-Webster). As the people of the village remark that Chadiza was a “wonderful man”, they turn away from the remains of the blaze and speak of birth (427). The daughter who turned her back on the mystical ways of her father, began a change in the ways of her people. With the death of the mystical, a new era has been birthed. The people turn their backs on the dead and move toward it as a new day dawns.

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