When I graduated from high school, I got a passport so that I could leave the country at a moment’s notice. To me, that was freedom. To the narrator of this story, “The Courter,” he speaks as if he sees freedom in the same way, but there is certain gravity to his opinion of freedom. Because London was not his first home, he felt tethered there. The passport allowed him to break away from his old home, his new home, and his family at a moment’s notice.
But the ropes around his neck, the ropes that are pulling him east and west are something that people may not be able to understand if they have not left their homeland. People have roots and ties wherever they have loved. I, for instance, have lived coast to coast, from California to New York. I understand what the narrator is saying because I am never fully settled because I cannot always have everyone I love around me.
The image of the ropes pulling him east and west implies that he is grounded in one place, but that one place is not his homeland. His homeland is a roving island or a few islands that are outside of him. The ropes are not just in London and Bombay—they are in his father, his sisters, Certainly-Mary, Rozalia, and Mecir. The ropes are not tied around his neck, but they are anchored right in his heart.