Jan 25, 2018 in Analysis

Nachman and His Relationship with Ali Massid

In the following paper, I would like to focus on Nachman and his relationship with Ali Massid

Nachman interested me because he is a cunning character and manages both to make use of Ali’s generosity and not to fulfill his promise to write a paper on metaphysics. Besides, the way Nachman ends his relationship with Ali is also funny. He literally makes a fool of the prince, telling him that he has written the paper and mailed it, although he has not even begun writing the paper. What is more, Nachman’s relationship with Ali cannot be characterized as a normal relationship between two men. The point is that Nachman likes Ali’s appearance, voice, and even finds the prince perfect, which can make readers feel a spirit of homosexuality in the story.

This is how Nachman perceives Ali: “He had black hair and black eyes, a finely shaped nose, and a wide sensuous mouth. A Middle Eastern face, aristocratically handsome.” This description is intensified in the following lines: “Nachman wasn’t normally vain, but the stranger was not merely handsome. He was perfect.” Comparing himself with a stranger, Nachman thinks that he is “a gargoyle.” Typically, men do not care about their appearance and compare themselves with other men as women do, which implies that Nachman is a feminized character.  

Being fascinated by Ali’s appearance, Nachman agrees to write the paper on metaphysics, regardless of the fact that he “cannot write well and have done badly in it.” Surely, it can be argued that Nachman agreed because he wanted to earn a thousand dollars, but according to his confession, he has enough money to cover living expenses. What is more, Nachman tells Norbert that he is writing the paper for Ali because he likes him as he is “a nice guy.” Although Nachman feels manipulated, he agrees to write the paper. At first, he does everything like a brilliant student. He goes to the library, find necessary books, and start reading them through nights.

However, when he hears from Norbert that Ali is extremely rich and has a girlfriend – “an incredible piece and a cheerleader,” he almost decides to break his promise, but “the look in Ali’s eyes” makes him calm down and sit down to work. Having read enough, he makes an outline of the paper and knows how he is going to write it. Nonetheless, Ali’s frequent calls and his phony faith in Nachman make the latter feel resented, and this seems to be the main reason for Nachman’s deception.

The culmination of their relationship occurs when Ali invites Nachman for dinner at a restaurant, where they plan to talk about Henry Bergson. What complicates the matter is that Ali is not interested in Nachman’s ideas, but keeps boasting of his girlfriend, richness, and can even let him dance with Sweeny. “Ali was flaunting Sweeny, even giving her to Nachman, though not quite as he had given him the superb dinner. Ali’s generosity had been reduced to an insulting message.” Such Ali’s behavior made Nachman feel miserable and meaningless since the prince taught him how a person can live without knowledge and buy everything for money.

That is why Nachman decides to break his promise and not to write the paper

Having felt himself inferior to a richer person, he does not want to be bought once more and proves that money does not decide everything in the world. What he does to Ali lets him feel his power, just like he felt it when Sweeny sat down on his sofa. Therefore, Nachman’s story shows readers that every human wants to have some kind of power, instead of performing the role of a puppet.


Related essays