A. Hazel Verbina isAssistant Professor at Dr. G. R. Damodharan College of Science, Civil Aerodrome Post, Avinashi Road, Coimbatore - 641014 (Tamilnadu)-India. Her articles on literary criticism have been appeared in various journal. email: <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The Migrant and the Immigrant- a
Rushdian visions are also filled with Indian elements and post-colonial western skepticism. Salman Rushdie is a diasporic writer, though not fit in the definition of Boehmer according to whom diasporas are the children of migrants. Shame is the story of Rushdie’s first exiled country i.e. Pakistan. It is also an allegorical novel as Rushdie himself says: “The country in this story is not Pakistan, not quite. There are two countries, real and fictional occupying the same space or almost the same space”. Shame is a novel about migration. At several places Salman Rushdie emerges as the narrator and narrates the deplorable conditions of migrants.
In his novels, Salman Rushdie deals with various national and international themes, but his primary focus is his motherland and its subcontinents i.e. Pakistan and Bangladesh. Themes such as migration, exile, diaspora, nationalism, multiculturalism, dualism etc. appear in his novels from the very first page. His writings have become the focus of a certain kind of struggle for cultural identity in Britain and other Western states.
Three of Rushdie’s most important works, Midnight’s Children, Shame, and
The Satanic Verses, draw heavily on the theme of migration. By examining
the life of the migrant, Rushdie explores the universal mystery of being
born and the puzzle of who one is. One can understand Rushdie’s quest
for identity by examining his life, his deliberately chosen style of
prose, the theme of “double identity”, “divided selves” and the “Shadow
figures” in his novels and in his personality, and the benefits that
many characters reap from being migrants. Salman Rushdie is the
quintessential migrant and has gained a unique perspective from his
rather unique life. Migration is a painful but emancipating process: “To
be reborn, first you have to die” (The Satanic Verses). Rushdie admits
that after leaving one’s homeland for a long time, one has
Indeed, it is quite clear in Rushdie’s novels that migrants gain insight from their plight. Unfortunately, however, such insight is often silenced and devalued. By successfully blending English and Indian voices, Rushdie manages to empower the migrant. In “Imaginary Homelands” Rushdie writes; “We can’t simply use the language the way the British did; it needs remaking for our own purposes...To conquer English may be to complete the process of making ourselves free” (17).
Shame, Midnight’s Children, and The Satanic Verses all deal with the death the migrant dies, the agony of mutation, and the emancipation and self- knowledge of rebirth. One can understand this unifying theme in Rushdie’s works by examining his life, his deliberately chosen style of prose, the theme of “double identity” in his novels and in his personality.
Despite the confusion and ambiguity that the migrant’s existence entails, in Rushdie’s novels it forces the character to search for self-identity, to search for the things that made him: this is the blessing of the migrant. Each of the migrant protagonists has a very special talent that allows him to clearly view himself and the world around him. In Midnight’s Children, Saleem is born on India’s independence day and hence has powers of telepathy. In The Satanic Verses Gibreel believes he is a prophet and is blessed with foreknowledge of future events. Indeed, Rushdie himself embarks on a journey of self-discovery when he writes and the talent that propels him toward self-knowledge is his brilliant creativity and skillful writing.
Towards the end of the nineteenth century most European states migrated
to Africa and other parts of the world where they established colonies.
Nigeria was amongst other African nations that received visitors who
were on a colonising mission introducing their religion and culture that
is later imposed on Igbo. The culture of the people of Umuofia (Igbo
culture)is immensely threatened by this change.
In Things Fall Apart, Achebe correlates the same idea to the Igbo society of Nigeria that due to its colonization by the British and because of internal weaknesses within the native structure, the community of Umuofia is unable to withstand the change and transformation leading to an anarchic world of destruction and causing the traditional world of African culture and values in colonial as well as in post colonial era to fall apart. He expounds that Africa is a composite and vibrant society against the view that it is stereotypical, primitive, simple and backward. European writers have always presented the continent as a dark place inhabited by people of primitive minds. Achebe changed this notion and assumption by presenting a completely different perspective of the African society.
Achebe’s writing tends to insist that the African culture was vulnerable to invasion by western civilization. Hero is distressed by social changes brought by white men in the traditional society. His position is at risk due to the arrival of a new value system. The irony is that Okonkwo completely loses himself in both.
Achebe places slavery in an ongoing process in which the onslaught of colonialism uncovers and also radically transforms the moral and legal dispensations in which African slavery was worlded. The afterlives of slavery become an intimate but deeply perturbing part of postcolonial heritage. The invocations of slavery in Things Fall Apart, Arrow of God and No Longer at Ease point to the search for an irretrievable moral center in which to enunciate the operations of slavery in one specific historical setting. But since that moral order is irrevocably altered, Achebe places slavery in an ongoing pro-cess in which the onslaught of colonialism uncovers and also radically transforms the moral and legal dispensations in which African slavery was worlded.
Literature has been a medium through which writers enumerate the social
issue especially writers like Rushdie and Achebe has a deep thirst
towards their native culture and they could never sustain the changes
that took place because of the migration. They want the people around
the world to understand the ultimate suffering of the migrants in
adapting themselves towards the new society and culture and that serves
the basis of their novels.