I found Rushdie’s story At The Auction Of The Ruby Slippers, to be very odd. It was a bit too descriptive for my liking and I often times got lost while reading the depictions of each group. Yet the further I delved into the story, the more I started to see a pattern spread sporadically throughout the text. This pattern expressed our deepest insecurities in life; where our true homes are and who we truly are.
Ruby Slippers have been a symbol of home since the Wizard of Oz first appeared on screen. Click three times and you shall return home safe and sound. Rushdie takes the shoe’s symbolism a bit farther in his story. He writes “behind bullet-proof glass, the ruby slippers sparkle. We do not know the limits of their powers. We suspect that these limits may not exist” (88). It would appear from this statement that the thousands of bidders at this auction are only here so that they may be able to buy something that could promise them anything in the world. While one would suspect that these bidder’s desire material things, such as power, money and fame, Rushdie instead explains that these bidder’s desire to find a true home. He writes “Home has become such a scattered damaged, various concept in our present travails. There is so much to yearn for. There are so few rainbows any more” (93). This quote explains how many of us have lost our sense of home and therefore we have lost our sense of life. We feel unconnected and through this feeling we have lost hope and we turn away from future promises of good.
I really connected with Rushdie’s quote “their affirmation of a lost state of normalcy in which we have almost ceased to believe and to which the slippers promise us we can return” (92). I know that everyone has felt lost sometime in their life. There is an emptiness that seems to loom over oneself and make one start to question everything. These uncontrollable thoughts send you on a downward spiral where you feel as though you are spinning and spinning until you feel like you will never stop. You wish for solid ground, a home where you can settle and put these thoughts to rest. I have been feeling this way recently due to the fact that I am nearing the end of my college career. I am not sure that when I am forced out into the real world I will be able to find a new home, a solid ground to settle on. As Rushdie said my “home has become such a scattered damaged,” place. And just as the Orphans wish for a time machine (93) I wish for one as well so that I can go back to simpler times, where I was content and confident in my home. I am sure I am not the only one who wishes for this.
Yet when you look further into Rushdie’s story you realize that he raises an even more important question when he writes “How hard can we expect even a pair of magic shoes to work? They promise to take us home, but are metaphors of homeliness comprehensible to them, are abstractions permissible? Are they literalists, or will they permit us to redefine the blessed word?” (93). Here Rushdie is questioning the shoes’ ability to fulfill our desires. Will these shoes send us to our current homes or will they understand that we desire them to find us our destined homes? I feel as though Rushdie is suggesting that nothing in this world can provide us with those answers, so instead we lie to ourselves and throw money at the problem. This way we give purpose to our lives again and we are able to feel that much closer to finding where our true homes lye.
However at the end of the story when the auction is over and the narrator is left with nothing, he touches upon a point that furthers our desire for home. He writes “Thanks to the infinite bounty of the Auctioneers, any of us, cat, dog, man, woman, child, can be a blue-blood; can be – as we long to be; and as, cowering in our shelters, we fear we are not - somebody” (103). It seems as though Rushdie is saying that our true feelings of home lie within ourselves and our insecurities. We all desire to be somebody in this world, because this gives us a solid ground to work off of. For if we don’t known ourselves, how can we know our true homes?