Wednesday, March 23, 2011

There's no place like home

In Rushdie’s Good Advice is Rarer Than Rubies, The Prophet’s Hair, and At the Auction of the Ruby Slippers, home is seen as a place in which one feels a sense of familiarity and belonging. In At the Auction of the Ruby Slippers, Rushdie uses the ruby slippers as a reference to The Wizard of Oz and its relationship to home. Personally, The Wizard of Oz has always creeped me out, and if I were Dorothy I would want to get back home right away. Not only is Oz unfamiliar to Dorothy, but she also is introduced to many different kinds of “people,” for instance the tin man, lion, scarecrow, witches, and munchkins. When one feels as though one does not belong, it contributes to one’s dislike of his or her homeland. One’s home should be created with love, and as we learned from Kisses in the Nederends, should provide comfort and allow one to be him/herself, even if it means farting in order to be comfortable with oneself and others, because one’s homeland should allow one to “overcome the fear of not being somebody” (Rushdie 103).

At the end of Good Advice is Rarer Than Rubies, Muhammad Ali realizes that Miss Rehana is happier to stay in her homeland with the familiar than she would have been in unfamiliar England to live with a stranger. In her homeland, Miss Rehana feels a sense belonging as she explains, “I work in a great house, as ayah to three good boys. They would have been sad to see me leave” (15). She has a job and family that makes up her home. Also, the tests by the Sahins (although ridiculous) may go to show that she is not ready to enter into a homeland that is unfamiliar with a man she hardly knows. One’s homeland should be created out of love, not through force, making one move and create a new life for his/herself that one does not truly desire.

In The Prophet’s Hair, the main characters’ home begins to change for the worst once the relic is discovered. It is as though an unwelcome guest has invaded their home, creating complete disarray, as Hashim changes his behavior in the presence of the relic. Atta, Huma, and their mother feel a loss of their homeland for they all feel a loss of themselves as Hashim no longer treats them as family members. Instead, he abuses them, which eventually leads to the family’s demise. Again, one’s homeland should provide one with a sense of belonging and love. Therefore, the relic in its “unfamiliar” homeland needs to be returned to its home in the mosque for certain parts of one’s homeland to get better (although only the blind woman benefited at the end). The lack of freedom in the household brought on by the power of the relic destroyed this homeland, but as with many of the characters we have met in the other novels we have read in class, one must “take matters into one’s own hands” in order to try and preserve one’s homeland. For the characters in The Prophet’s Hair and Okonkwo in Things Fall Apart, their efforts resulted in death, but in Good Advice is Rarer than Rubies, Miss Rehana takes action to gain entrance into England, but when her efforts fail, she happily returns to her homeland where she belongs.

As stated previously, one’s homeland should provide a place in which one feels comfortable and knows who one is and that he or she belongs. The auction unites various types of people (rich, poor, old, young, etc) with the common goal of buying something to add to one’s homeland and/or feel as though one is “somebody.” Rusdie ends At the Auction of the Ruby Slippers saying, “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). We all have the potential to be something great, but cannot hide in our physical homes. Rather, we should leave our physical homes in order to make our outside environment, our homelands, better. For those who go to the auction, they are looking for greatness in the objects that are sold, just as Dorothy found greatness (her home) in her ruby slippers. Again, love, of an object, person, or physical location is what creates one’s homeland, providing one with a sense of belonging where one can be his/herself.

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