Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Satanic Verses

Some final thoughts about The Satanic Verses (for now):

  • The title also refers to Chamcha's verses that he uses to drive Gibreel crazy.  What's the thematic connection to Mahound's "Satanic Verses"?  I think that in both cases, Gibreel merely acts as a receptacle for the verses.  He's a pretty passive character over-all.
  • It's annoying that the narrator is never really identified, especially when Rushdie plays a lot of games with his identity ("I know what happened; I was there."  "I appeared to Gibreel"). I'm still going with Satan, but I'd be willing to accept some other name (the angel Gibreel?  almost definitely not God -- I'd have a tough time buying that one).
  •  There's a huge thread left hanging -- it's implied that Gibreel started turning England into a tropical climate.  But that whole idea is dropped on the floor.
  • Chamcha's flexibility is really what saves him in the end.  He can accept two sides for himself -- the Indian and the English, or good & bad, or several other antinomies.  Gibreel, though, is too rigid to let himself be challenged.  That purity that makes him "good" for the narrator is his downfall; he's so self-accepting that he is judgmental of others, and ends up acting like Othello -- manipulated into believing the worst of Allie and killing her.

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