A Captain Must Always Go Down with his Ship

When reading the section of the novel when Nadia and Saeed decide to leave Saeed’s house (pages 95-98), and end up leaving Saeed’s father behind, the first thing that popped into my head was the scene in Titanic when the captain was standing in the flooding room just waiting to die.

Watching the movie on repeat growing up, I was always confused on why the captain never tried to escape the sinking ship and was displaying nothing but external relaxation as his life is slowly taken away from him but as my dad used to say,

“A captain must always go down with his ship” .

Whether he feels it is his duty to accompany the ship as it perishes because it is his job or because he feels some sort of unexplainable connection to it in that he does not want to let go, a captain must always go down with his ship.

I feel this same vibe when reading this section of chapter 5. There are violent outbreaks occurring and intrusive militia ivading the houses in Saeed and Nadia’s city and because of this, there is no question in why people would do everything in their power to get out as soon and as safe as possible. However, Saeed’s father refuses to leave. When questioned by Saeed, he justifies his decision with his feeling that his wife’s presence remains in the city.

‘”Your mother is here.’

Saeed said, ‘Mother is gone.’

His father said, ‘Not for me’ (95)”.

These few lines on their own demonstrates Saeed’s fathers exceptional connection to the city in which he raised Saeed, solely because of the memories made and time spent there with his recently deceased wife, who was his best friend.

When Rose approaches the captain in the Titanic scene, the captain expresses his connection to the ship and although it may seem hard for Rose to comprehend, similar to how Saeed’s father’s desire to stay in the crumbling city would appall Saeed and Nadia, when one feels such a strong bond to a person/place/or thing, nothing has the potential to break that bond, unless it physically is destroyed (i.e. the ship sinking with the captain inside or Saeed’s house being demolished with his father inside). However, these connections and associations that we form are what allows a place that may be just a plot of land for someone to mean the world to someone else. Relationships to places that make us happy, content, and comfortable are all part of human nature. And in some cases, maintaining that relationship with the risk of death transcends the guarantee of a life ahead without being able to foster that relationship.

4 thoughts on “A Captain Must Always Go Down with his Ship

  1. Kianna G.

    You brought up an interesting point. I never associated Saeed’s father staying behind with the Titanic and the phrase, “A captain must go down with his ship”, but it definitely connects. I can see how Saeed’s father has a fondness and memories of the house, where he raised Saeed and made a life with his late wife. Essentially, he has lived his life and is cannot part with it. He has accepted his fate and lets the time run out for him. It is a sad but peaceful moment when one thinks about it.



    This was a great reference to bring up. The reason why “the captain must go down with his ship” exists is that in maritime tradition the captain is responsible for the lives onboard so he has to be the last one off. If Saeed’s family is a ship then the father is the captain. One of their passengers (the mother) has died and the only ones left on this metaphorical ship are Saeed and Nadia. Saeed’s father can not leave the ship but he has to encourage the rest of the living passengers (Nadia and Saeed) to leave.


  3. Isabel K

    I think this is a very interesting way to look at Saeed’s father’s sacrifice. I believe that Saeed, his father, and Nadia are all connected to their home country, but in varying amounts. Saeed’s father is so attached that he cannot envision a life without it, even if it kills him to stay. Saeed is very attached, not so much that he is unable to leave, but enough that it will always be home to him. But Nadia is much less connected; soon after leaving, she feels hesitant to call it home.


  4. Abby S.

    That is a really good connection. I found it interesting how Saeed’s father felt the need to stay in the country where he spent his whole life. But I then realized how he didn’t want to leave his wife, who was laid to rest there, and leave behind everything they had built together. The deep connection with his home country is very powerful. It is very similiar to the captain in Titanic.


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