Abraham Maslow’s hierarchical needs in No Friend but the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison by Behrouz Boochani

Goran Omar Mustafa, Hedayat Muhammad Ahmad, Omar Fouad Ghafor


The paper attempted to analyze the character of Boochani in his memoir No Friend but the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison, in the light of Abraham Maslow’s Theory of Hierarchical Needs. Boochani wrote his novel while he was still locked in the Manus Island detention center. It narrates the story of a man who followed his dream to reach his dreamland.  The study was carried out using a descriptive qualitative research methodology through textual analysis design. Since the study was text-based, a meticulous reading process of the text was done. We used the text as the primary source for data collection. Therefore, a portion of the sentences, paragraphs, and phrases related to the study’s objective were taken as examples and excerpts and analyzed using Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The results revealed that Boochani, like all humans, was driven by physiological and psychological needs, ranging from the most fundamental to the most extreme. His journey aimed to get self-actualization but never could get it and hardly fulfilled other basic needs completely. Boochani’s voyage is depicted as a series of rising and falling waves. He occasionally satisfies some needs, but he never succeeds in meeting the need for self-actualization and self-esteem. And hardly does he fulfill the other three levels of the hierarchy of needs. His entire story serves as a metaphor for everyone who strives for self-actualization yet encounters obstacles.


Abraham Maslow; Behrouz Boochani; novel; psychology; hierarchy of needs; theory of motivation

Full Text:



Ali MC. (2023, February 9). How Behrouz Boochani is changing the narrative on refugees. Aljazeera. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/2/9/how-behrouz-boochani-is-changing-the-narrative-on-refugees

Aruma, E. O., & Hanachor, M. E. (2017). Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and assessment of needs in community development. International Journal of Development and Economic Sustainability, 5(7), 15-27.

Anggraeni, D., Manalu, H. F., & Anggraini, D. (2021). The esteem needs in the main character of ‘Me Before You’ movie. Studies in English Language and Education, 8(3), 1285-1298. https://doi.org/10.24815/siele.v8i3.18878

Bahuwa, R. (2019). An analysis of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in The Great Gatsby novel by Francis Scott Fitzgerald. British: Jurnal Bahasa dan Sastra Inggris, 7(2), 110-119. http://dx.doi.org/10.31314/british.7.2.110-119.2018

Baldi, E. A. (2021). (Meta)physical homelessness in Behrouz Boochani’s No Friend but the Mountains. Forum for Modern Language Studies, 57(4), 399-416. https://doi.org/10.1093/fmls/cqab049

Belsey, C. (2013). Textual analysis as a research method. In G. Griffin (Ed.), Research Methods for English Studies (pp. 160-178). Edinburgh University Press. https://doi.org/10.1515/9780748683444

Boochani, B. (2018). No friend but the mountains: Writing from Manus prison (Translated by Omid Tofighian). Picador.

Bouzenita, A. I., & Boulanouar, A. W. (2016). Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: An Islamic critique. Intellectual Discourse, 24(1), 59-81.

Cherry, K. (2020, March 16). Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/kendra-cherry-2794702

Desmet, P., & Fokkinga, S. (2020). Beyond Maslow’s pyramid: Introducing a typology of thirteen fundamental needs for human-centered design. Multimodal technologies and interaction, 4(3), 1-22. https://doi.org/10.3390/mti4030038

D’Souza, J., & Gurin, M. (2017). Archetypes based on Maslow’s need hierarchy. Journal of the Indian Academy of Applied Psychology, 43(2), 183-188.

Gessen, M. (2019, September 11). Behrouz Boochani is one of Australia’s most celebrated writers, but he can’t step onshore. The New Yorker. https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/behrouz-boochani-is-one-of-australias-most-celebrated-writers-but-he-cant-step-onshore

Gholamnejad, H., Darvishpoor-Kakhki, A., Ahmadi, F., & Rohani, C. (2019). Self-actualization: Self-care outcomes among elderly patients with hypertension. Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research, 24(3), 206-212. https://doi.org/10.4103/ijnmr.IJNMR_95_18

Ghozali, I. (2020). The fulfillment of hierarchy of needs of Elinor in the “Sense and Sensibility” novel by Jane Austen: A study of humanism psychology of Abraham Maslow. Pancaran Pendidikan, 9(1), 1-8. https://doi.org/10.25037/pancaran.v9i1.259

Hatch, J. A. (2002). Doing qualitative research in education settings. Suny Press.

Hopper, E. (2020, February 24). Maslow’s hierarchy of needs explained. ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/maslows-hierarchy-of-needs-4582571

Jeyaraj, J. S. (2016). Is there a method/methodology for literary research? Methods and outcomes of research in English. SRM University. http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3486752

Kaiku, P. (2020). No friend but the mountains: A reflection. The Contemporary Pacific, 32(2), 461-467. https://hdl.handle.net/10125/105198

Lestari, S., Waluyo, H. J., & Wardani, N. E. (2019). Humanistic psychology study of Abraham Maslow on the main character in Tiba Sebelum Berangkat novel by Faisal Oddang. Budapest International Research and Critics Institute-Journal (BIRCI-Journal), 2(1), 110-118. https://doi.org/10.33258/birci.v2i1.155

Leurs, K., & Patterson, J. (2020). Smartphones: Digital infrastructures of the displaced. In P. Adey, J. C. Bowstead, K. Brickell, V. Desai, M. Dolton, A. Pinkerton & A. Siddiqi (Eds.), The handbook of displacement (pp. 583-598). Palgrave Macmillan.

Lubis, N., & Satria, R. (2021). Hierarchy of needs in Angie Thomas’s novel “The Hate U Give”: Abraham Maslow. Humanitatis: Journal of Language and Literature, 8(1), 53-60. https://doi.org/10.30812/humanitatis.v8i1.1342

Maslow, A. (1943). A theory of human motivation. Psychological Review, 50, 370-396.

Maslow, A. H. (1954). Motivation and personality. Harpers.

Maslow, A. (1962). Toward a psychology of being. D. Van Nostrand. https://doi.org/10.1037/10793-000

Mawere, M., Mubaya, R., van Reisen, M., & van Stam, G. (2016). Maslow’s theory of human motivation and its deep roots in individualism: Interrogating Maslow’s applicability in Africa. In M. Mawere & A. Nhemachena (Eds.), Theory, knowledge, development and politics: What role for the academy in the sustainability of Africa? Langaa RPCIG.

McGuire, K. J. (2012). Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: An introduction. Grin Verlag.

McKee, A. (2001). A beginner’s guide to textual analysis. Metro Magazine: Media & Education Magazine, (127/128), 138-149.

Mukuka, G. S. (2010). “Reap what you have not sown”: Indigenous knowledge systems and intellectual property laws in South Africa. Pretoria University Law Press.

New, R. S., & Cochran, M. (Eds.). (2007). Early childhood education: An international encyclopedia (Vol. 4). Greenwood Publishing Group.

Poston, B. (2009). An exercise in personal exploration: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The Surgical Technologist, 41(8), 347-353.

Ronie, F. I. M., & Hellystia, D. (2020). Hierarchy of needs analysis of the main character of a novel entitled Flawed by Cecelia Ahern. Journal of Language and Literature, 7(2), 146-154. http://dx.doi.org/10.35760/jll.2019.v7i2.2030

Schacter, D. L., Gilbert, D. T., & Wegner, D. M. (2011). Psychology, 2nd Ed. Worth.

Scobie, M. (2021). No friend but the mountains: Writing from Manus Prison by Boochani, B. (Translation by Omid Tofighian). Pan Macmillan Australia.

Sitepu, J. C., & Putri, A. (2020). The Hierarchy of Needs of Louisa Clark in Me Before You Novel. Jurnal Ilmiah Program Studi Pendidikan Bahasa Inggris, 11(1), 118-130. https://doi.org/10.33373/as.v11i1.2370

Smith, J. A. (2017). Textual analysis. In J. Matthes, C. S. Davis, & R. F. Potter (Eds.), The international encyclopedia of communication research methods (pp. 1-7). John Wiley & Sons, Inc. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118901731.iecrm0248

Tofighian, O. (2021). Behrouz Boochani and the Manus Prison narratives: Merging translation with philosophical reading. Continuum, 32(4), 527-535.. https://doi.org/10.1080/10304312.2018.1494942

Valiunas, A. (2011). Abraham Maslow and the all-American self. The New Atlantis, 33, 93-110.

Wildan., Yusuf, Y. Q., Arianto, B., & Bahry, R. (2023). Acehnese local wisdom through the lens of Acehnese novelists during the times of political conflict and peace agreement. OKARA: Jurnal Bahasa dan Sastra, 17(1), 1-13.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.24815/siele.v10i3.28402

Article Metrics

Abstract view : 0 times
PDF - 0 times


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Print ISSN: 2355-2794, Online ISSN: 2461-0275

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

View Journal Stats