21 March 2013
In Salman Rushdie’s novel East, West, he writes a story called “The Courter” in which he confronts the transitioning of homes. Rushdie introduces Mary, a girl who moves from India to England and struggles to integrate into the new culture. Rushdie includes that Mary feels she undergoes an, “enforced exile from the beloved country of [her] birth and moved [her], stirring things that had been buried very deep”(178). Mary reveals, “…India felt as far away as Paradise”(175). In this quotation, Rushdie suggests that Mary’s home still exists within her mind. Mary refuses to allow herself to assimilate into the new culture of England, because she continues to daydream about India. For Mary-- India is her Paradise: her perfect home.
During her time in England, Mary meets the “Courter”. Rushdie explains a language barrier-- for Mary, “the letter p was a particular problem”(176). However, he, “did not mind. But his name, this courter, this he would try to be”(177). In allowing Mary to call him as she pleases, or how she is capable of calling him, Rushdie allows for a chance at a relationship between these two characters: between India and England. As their relationship progresses they discover the game of chess, and it becomes, “their private language”(194). This takes away the cultural barrier and allows Mary to feel comfortable in England. Through her relationship with the Courter, Mary finds a sense of home.
In this story of “The Courter” Rushdie is perhaps suggesting that an individual does not necessarily feel rooted in a place but in the mind. Once an individual’s mind is rooted in a homeland, it becomes their home: an “imaginary homeland”.