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The couter by Salman Rushdie Essay


In Salman Rushdie’s The Courter migration is the main theme. The writer tells a story of an Indian family that moved to London in search of possible better lives. In their efforts to survive in the new land it is shown how they encountered challenges especially in terms of language barrier.

Abba is put through an embarrassing event when he asks from the female pharmacist for the availability of nipples for his baby earning himself a slap on the face. The story revolves around a nanny and the porter who the nanny calls ‘courter’ due to her eastern accent. There is some intriguing and special mutual understanding between the two. The courter is humble and wise while the nanny is a strong, kind and a sympathetic woman.

The author explores the difficulties of life away from home in a foreign land and the problems of homesickness and especially that of language barrier. The narrator states, “my schoolfellow tittered when in my Bombay way I said ‘brought up’ for upbringing and ‘thrice’ for three times and macaroni for pasta in general and as for learning the difference between nipples and teats, I really hadn’t the opportunity to increase my word power in that area at all.” (Rushdie, 1768)

From what you read in other parts of the story it is unexpected that the relationship between the Ayah, Certainly-Mary and the couter flourish the way it does. It is rather refreshing when one reads of the good relationship between the two against the backdrop of discrimination and racisms described in other parts of the story. The reader is also caught off guard when the writer uses the word courter to suggest that the porter was intending to initiate a relationship with Certainly-Mary.

He writes, “But this name, this couter, this he would try to be” (Rushdie, 1764). Another unforeseen event in the story, a somehow sad one, is the quick transition of the story of Certainly-Mary in her young days and her relations with the Couter to the one of her in old age and bedridden. This event also rouses the reader to the fact that the narrator is possibly in his adulthood.

Alifa Rifaat’s World of the unknown and Edwidge Danticat’s children of the sea.

In Alifa Rifaat’s World of the unknown the writer paints a picture of a marriage that is stuck in dissatisfaction and unhappiness. The narrator, whose husband is transferred to a new town, finds a house that she likes in the new town and moves in despite warnings of presence of spirits in the new house from the locals and a particular young woman called Aneesa who had been a resident of the house before.

Later the narrator sees a huge snake and is elated and intoxicated by its beauty. After consulting the Sheikh it is understood that the snake is a female monarch which should be considered a blessing. The narrator starts fantasizing about seeing the snake again and the fantasies slowly turn into sexual attraction towards the snake.

She says, “I came to a state of continuous torment, for a strange feeling of longing scorched my body and rent my senses.” (Rifaat, 1756). When they finally see each other her fantasies are satisfied to unimaginable levels. The secret relationship between the narrator and the snake proceeds until one day when the narrator’s husband kills a snake creating animosity between men and snakes thus the snake had to move away.

In children of the sea the writer makes a touching narration of his countrymen hopes and aspirations and determination not to be viewed as second class humans. In the opening of the story he writes, “They say behind the mountains are more mountains. Now I know it’s true. I also know there are timeless waters, endless seas, and lots of people in this world whose names don’t matter to anyone but themselves.” (Danticat 1781).

He juxtaposes two stories, one of a boat full of refugee on the run from emotional, physical and political strife and the story of his girlfriend who is left behind to bear the dread and that way he tells a moving story filled with emotion and he manages to paint vivid images of dreams and aspiration long contained and imprisoned.

In both Rifaat’s and Danticat’s stories, visible is the undying quest for freedom from social stressors. In My world of the unknown the narrator strives for personal freedom from both religion and tradition. She wonders whether Cleopatra the very legend of love too had sexual relations with a serpent when she was weary of relating with men.

This portrays the narrator as a deviant from restrictive traditions. Rifaat also captures the fact that her Islamic religion was more restraining in terms of sexual enjoyment as compared to the Western religion. Similarly Danticat in his short stories does a touching account of the many ill experiences of his Haitian people fleeing from political struggle and yearning for freedom and peace.

Works Cited

Danticat, Edwidge. Children of the sea. New York: Harper and Row, 2000. Print

Rifaat, Alifa. Distant view of minaret and other stories. New Jersey: Prentice hall,1987. Print.

Rushdie, Salman. The Couter. London: Oxford press, 1998. Print.

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1. IvyPanda. "The couter by Salman Rushdie." July 23, 2018. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-couter-by-salman-rushdie/.


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IvyPanda. "The couter by Salman Rushdie." July 23, 2018. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-couter-by-salman-rushdie/.

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IvyPanda. 2018. "The couter by Salman Rushdie." July 23, 2018. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-couter-by-salman-rushdie/.

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IvyPanda. (2018) 'The couter by Salman Rushdie'. 23 July.

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