Reaction on Salman Rushdie’s “The Courter”.
Migration is one of the themes in the story. Even during the prehistoric period, man has wandered around the globe in search for a greener pasture. This is reflected in the story “The Courter”, an Indian family migrated to London to get a British citizenship. In there effort to survive in this foreign land they have encountered a number of challenges, one of which is language barrier.
The Courter actually means a porter; a person who carries luggage to the flat the Indian family lives. This word originated from the nanny who has a speech problem on the letter “p”. Her eastern tongue is driving her crazy in this land. I was giggling on my seat when I read the incident the father encountered at the pharmacy. I could feel the humiliation and sympathetic reaction of the family when he told his amusing and shameful experience with the British pharmacist. He was misunderstood when he asked the female pharmacist for the availability of nipples for his baby. The poor man was slapped on his face because a nipple in Britain has a malicious connotation. On the other hand both are victims of the distinct usage of language and its meaning.
Moreover, the nanny and the “courter” as she calls him played the major roles in the story. The nanny is true to herself, kind, sympathetic and a strong woman while the courter is humble, wise and a genius chess player. There was a special mutual understanding that developed between them, a different kind of friendship that is something more intimate and intriguing. Although not mentioned but I can sense it, love has come there way at the dawn of there lives. Compared to the affair between Rozalia and the narrator which is very expressive, daring and very westernized there affair is stronger, deeper and traditional. This should I say the comparison drawn by the author to describe the affair of the new generation and before.
The courter showed courage and strength when he saved the life of the Indian mother who was a victim of mistaken identity. Unfortunately, he was stabbed and his strength declined due to that incident and Mary took care of him. In this way she has shown her concern and love to the porter. The incident made Mary emotionally ill. She is physically fit at her age but she is sick deep inside her. It is unexplainable, she is torn between homesickness and fear of loosing a special person; the courter. I feel sad about there love story, Mary preferred to go home in Bombay and left the man she loves.
Lastly, the author has showed how life could be in a place away from home. The ideas of homesickness, language barrier and discrimination are some of the things he left me. But I am still passionate and holding strong to my dream of going abroad to travel, work and experience life outside my comfort zone. Like the Indian family, I am just waiting for the perfect timing. I am optimistic that sooner or later my dream will be fully realized.
Rodolfo M. Talua M.E.5 May 10, 2008
A Family Supper
Although I haven’t read other works of Kazuo Ishiguro, I would agree to the comment of the critic Edith Milton as she says “what is stated is less important than what is left unsaid”. The author wrote the story in a manner where the reader can explain for himself the motives, emotions and thoughts of the characters.
The conversations between the father and the siblings are reserved and not as intimate as I thought. I could feel the distant feelings between the siblings towards there father. Something is unspoken and better left unsaid. Although not mentioned but I believe the story is a homecoming of a prodigal son after two years of his mother’s death of food poisoning. Her death I say is her destiny since she doesn’t eat Fuga fish at all but the gathering that night is an exemption. The fish is served she has to eat some out of disrespect to the host. In her misfortune, it was her first and last taste of this Japanese fish.
A homecoming should be something exciting and grand but in the story, it is just a simple family supper. The simplicity of the homecoming could be the aftertaste of the mother’s death and the fall of the firm the father and his partner ran. In his depression of the latter, he killed himself and his family perhaps to get away from the humiliation of his failure.
I was moved by the father’s statement to his son, “If you wish to stay here, I mean in this house, you would be very welcome. That is, if you don’t mind living with an old man”. In his words, reflects the need of a longing father who missed his children so much. In this part of his life, he needs the care and companionship of his children especially now that he is a widower. Living alone could be very lonely. All he can do as much is to give the freedom his children deserves for both are grown up and have lives of there own.
This story made me realize that one day I shall leave my parents to pursue my dreams or marry and this cycle will continue till I become a parent as well. But one thing I am certain, my love and respect to my parents will always be in my heart and this will always be my reason for going to a place called; our home.
Rodolfo M. Talua M.E.5 May 10, 2008
The Red Guards
The story is a picture of destruction of cultural treasures caused by the Proletarian Cultural Revolution known as The Red Guards headed by Mao Ze Dong. As I looked for his name on the dictionary, Mao Ze Dong is a Chinese Communist Statesman, Marxist philosopher and founder of the Chinese Communist Party(1922); established his People’s Republic(1949) following civil war; notorious for the murderous “Cultural Revolution” of his dictatorship (1966-69). Marxist in philosophy, The Red Guards destroyed anything owned by private individuals to advocate public ownership and this was explicitly described by Nien Cheng as she experienced the intimidation, and terror herself.
On the other hand, the protagonist in the story tried to preserve the rich cultural heritage of China through the careful artistic craftsmanship of porcelains, wine cups and other ancient Chinese artifacts she collected in time. So precious that it can never be reproduced and replaced by new technological inventions. It’s worth and value is timeless and that she tried to save it in the midst of the chaos of Cultural Revolution. Her concern to preserve Chinese art and culture made her vulnerable to threat and oppression for anyone against the Red Guards ideology at that time could mean death.
I just imagine how our life would be during the Martial Law. This made me realize that I am lucky enough not to be born in that period of political emergency. Thinking that my father is a policeman I ask myself if he will be like the Red Guards who were brutal and heartless or will he be against oppression and fight for human rights, peace and freedom.
Moreover, like any other activists Nien Cheng has used the power of literature to express the truth of human nature. She has was successful in blending Chinese history and her real life experiences in this literary piece “The Red Guards” in her attempt to arouse social awareness and the value of preservation of Chinese culture, arts and heritage from total eradication.