The East has a preoccupation with losing their home and the West is on a quest to recover it. However, the West can accept that the home they seek may not exist anymore and imagine a future without it whereas the East can see no acceptable alternative. We can see this when we compare Salman Rushdie’s At The Auction of the Ruby Slippers (ATARS) to his The Prophet’s Hair.
The West is trying to reclaim the home they have lost and the East is trying to stop the home they have from slipping away. Both stories contain portraits of a better past. However, ATARS is referencing the past of the West, whereas The Prophet’s Hair is referencing the present of the East.
ATARS is related to the reader by a single character, as it happens, in the present tense, with occasional references to the past. All of the story is told from the reference point of the present moment, so when the past is mentioned, the reader understands Rushdie to be talking about the narrator’s past and the West’s past.
At the beginning of The Prophet’s Hair the narrative voice is sincere. The description of the family, before its undoing, is brief, but Rushdie’s economy of language packs it with meaning. However, by the end of the story, there is little description and actions are described bluntly. For instance Hashim “found that had murdered his daughter” and was “so overwhelmed by remorse that he turned the sword upon himself” all in one, matter of fact, sentence (Rushdie 56). Rushdie intends the reader to be immersed in the first section, but the detached flavour of the end of the story, signals a move from reality into fantasy. The unreality of the end of the story shows that Rushdie is talking about a possible imagined future, whereas the beginning is speaking of the real present of the East - what the East has to lose. Home is in the past for the West, and in the present for the East, so the West’s obsession with home is a quest to reclaim it and the East’s obsession is with the fragility of its present home. The strongest memory of the narrator in ATARS description of his past is of his girlfriend crying out “[home], baby, yes - you’ve come home” as he climaxes (95). He has been obsessed with Gale since their separation saying that he is a “candle at her temple” (96). This obsession has gone on for some time, because the narrator realizes that the Gale he remembers might have disappeared, become “ineffable” (96). He is anxious as the bidding begins and “[p]anic clutches” at him (96). Rushdie’s explicit mention of home, shows that the narrator equates Gale with home. His obsession with Gale is important because Gale is his home, and his anxiety as the bidding begins shows his obsession is focused on the quest to get back this home.
The Prophet’s Hair is clearly a story about the loss of home. The language of the description of how home was “six days ago” is filled with references to it’s fragility (41). Phrases like “porcelain delicacy” and “alabaster sensibilities”...