Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Distince Voices in East West

Salman Rushdie’s novel East, West in a way build’s on the idea of imaginary homelands Rushdie discusses in his essay. Rushdie uses different narrator’s throughout the the many short stories contained to propel the action of his narratives. Each narrator adds to the story through its unique voice and method of story-telling; both of which are shaped by the narrator’s perception of their reality. The two most memorable narrators with the most distinct voices of the first half of the book are arguably the narrators of the stories The Free Radio and Yorick.
The Free Radio narrator is an old man that seems to be a bit of a town outsider, perhaps once an important man but now seemingly incidental to the rest of the people that live in it. Interestingly enough, the reader does not find out who the gender of the narrator is until kind of late in the story, and I was fairly surprised to realize that he was in fact a male. Due to his description of Ramani’s handsomeness and mostly his gossipy attitude that reminded me a bit of Sheila’s social circle from the Shakti segment of Vikram Chandra’s love and longing in Bombay. The narrators longevity in the town, and knowledge of people that once lived there but no do, as well as his clinging to old ways of life all effect the way he tells his story, and consequently, how the reader hears it.
In the Yorick portion of the story, Rushdie in a way explicitly states a lot of what this book seems to imply about storytelling. The narrator creates a new, previously unknown back-story to the well known tale of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The narrator seems to imply Rushdie’s sentiment of perception and the point of view of the narrator of a story being crucial to how a reader’s reality is formed in the line “It may be that the vellum is not wholly to be relied upon in regard…”
In this story about a story, and about all stories recorded and passed on, Rushdie seems to be saying, like he did in his imaginary homeland’s essay, that while an author (or narrator) of a story can create an incredible depiction of the world as they perceive it or remember it, this does not mean that the world we are being drawn into is an objective reality. All literature, and all stories, is dramatically impacted by the experiences and the position of the author or narrator that relays them.
Salman Rushdie uses the voice of many different narrators of East West. The use of this element allows Rushdie to enable the reader to see a world not just directly through his own eyes, but to see a world as Rushdie sees it through the eyes of others (if that makes any sense).

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