Rushdie creates three different worlds in his collection of short stories, East, West. The distinct characteristics of each section lead us to question and search for a melding of worlds in our own lives. In East and West, each story has its own way of fitting into either the mundane or the mystical quality of the collection. Although diverse, all of the stories speak to the internal struggle and choice of knowing one’s homeland.
In Good Advice Is Rarer Than Rubies, we see the young Miss Rehana choosing to stick with the life she knows and has come to love. Miss Rehana’s strong sense of self signifies her identity and the acknowledgment of her true homeland. West offers us a different sentiment as far as knowing one’s homeland. In At the Auction of the Ruby Slippers, we encounter a seemingly astray population of people who have lost sight of their value and their ability to recognize where their homelands lie. Even though the power to discern one’s homeland has not really been removed from the man himself, the ruby slippers— something to be purchased, promise the restoration of this power. In this story, the choice of one’s homeland is lost in the caricatures of the futuristic society in which anything and everything is for sale. The Courter in East,West provides yet another more liberating view of discovering one’s homeland. As the young man reflects on Certainly-Mary’s mental, emotional, and physical struggle to accept England as her homeland, he recognizes the freeing power of his passport:
It allowed me to come and go, to make choices that were not the ones my father would have wished. But, I too, have ropes around my neck, I have them to this day, pulling me this way and that, East and West, the nooses tightening, commanding, choose, choose.[…] Ropes I do not choose between you. Lassoes, lariats, I choose neither of you, and both. (211)
The man no longer has to choose as Certainly-Mary did, and instead discovers his power to choose both homelands in choosing neither homeland.
Many of Rushdie’s stories can be traced back to the how, what, when and why of our homelands. Through choice we exhibit our human nature and in East, West and East,West, we see the confidence, uncertainty and freedom that make up this nature.