The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie: Study Guide - Sections VII - IX
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The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie: Study Guide1: Chapters I - III

  1. "The Angel Azraeel"
  2. "The Parting of the Arabian Sea"
  3. "A Wonderful Lamp"

The Satanic Verses Summary and Analysis of Part VII - "The Angel Azraeel"
  1. Chapter 1
    • The narrative shifts back to contemporary London.
    • Saladin, now transformed back to a human, reflects on his relationship with his wife Pamela, and how it has been affected by bigotry. He dreams of having a son, and teaching him to ride a bicycle. The following morning, he decides to resume his life as best he can, so he moves back in with Pamela until they can arrange for a divorce. Her pregnancy from Jumpy Joshi is starting to show, but she is not handling it well – she abuses whiskey, and shaves her head when her hair starts to go gray. Although they live together, they barely speak. Saladin grows depressed and has trouble finding work. Jumpy does his best to reconcile the couple, to little avail.
    • One day, Jumpy invites Saladin to a political meeting, where activists are campaigning for Dr. Uhuru Simba, a prominent black activist who has been arrested for the gruesome Granny Ripper murders. Many in the immigrant community believe he was framed because of his race and political beliefs. Hanif Johnson is acting as Dr. Uhuru’s lawyer, and both Saladin and Jumpy are secretly attending the meeting in hopes of glimpsing Mishal Sufyan. They are both infatuated with her; Jumpy is her karate instructor.
    • At the meeting, several people give inspiring speeches. When Saladin glances over at Mishal, he has a vision that her forehead is bursting into flames, while the angel Azraeel comes down from heaven to smite him. Saladin interprets the image as a warning against pursuing Mishal. He also hears that Alleluia Cone was supposed to be at the meeting, but did not show up. Between the vision and Alleluia’s association with Gibreel, Saladin realizes that his life has changed, and that he cannot simply recreate the life he had before the accident.
  2. Chapter 2
    • Billy Battuta manages to avoid being jailed for fraud, so long as leaves the United States and returns to London. He and Mimi return together, and throw a party at a soundstage that was most recently used to film a musical adaptation of the Dickens novel Our Mutual Friend. The soundstage remains decorated for that purpose, and several people wear costumes to accentuate it.
    • Most of the novel's main characters (from the London plot) attend the party, and when Saladin sees Gibreel, he is overcome with rage. He approaches Gibreel, intending to kill him. Gibreel, sedated by powerful antipsychotics, is oblivious to Saladin’s intentions, and asks after Pamela. Saladin ruefully confides that Pamela is pregnant by Jumpy Joshi, which reminds Gibreel of his suspicions that Alleluia is secretly trying to get pregnant. Gibreel convinces himself that Alleluia is having an affair with Jumpy, and excuses himself to confront that man. Unseen by anyone, he knocks Jumpy unconscious, and throws him into the film set’s fake river.
    • A few days later, Gibreel and Alleluia retreat to the countryside to aid the former's recovery. Gibreel invites Saladin to visit them, and Saladin accepts, still planning to murder Gibreel. However, he cannot bring himself to commit the act in front of Alleluia. They spend several days in the country, and Gibreel confides many secrets in his fellow survivor.
    • A few weeks later, Gibreel meets Saladin in London, and the two men take a long walk. Although the film star is more functional than before, he still behaves manically, and he irritates Saladin by graphically describing his sexual encounters with Alleluia. However, the stories also titillate Saladin, and he finds himself thinking sexually of Alleluia.
    • Knowing he will not murder Gibreel, Saladin concocts a different revenge plan. He begins to prank-call Gibreel and Alleluia. Using his voice-acting talents, he pretends to be many different callers, each of whom has an impressive knowledge of Alleluia’s anatomy – which Saladin learned about from Gibreel’s explicit stories. Saladin intends to drive Gibreel mad with jealousy, while simultaneously growing closer to Alleluia. It works - after three weeks, Gibreel runs away while Alleluia is at a photo shoot. During that time, Saladin had been spending time with Allie, acting as her confidante.
    • Meanwhile, John Maslama – the businessman Gibreel met on the train to London, and the first man to recognize him as an angel – has not forgotten about Gibreel. In fact, he has been taking out anonymous advertisements, claiming that God’s messenger has come to earth. One day, Gibreel enters Maslama's Hot Wax record store (associated with his night club) and buys a trumpet, which he then names Azraeel – Gibreel’s lieutenant. Maslama’s employees see a halo appear around Gibreel's head before he leaves.
  3. Chapter 3
    • Dr. Uhuru Simba dies in prison. The police claim that he broke his neck after having a nightmare and rolling out of bed, but many people believe the story a lie. Protests and riots break out, and intensify when the Granny Ripper murders continue, suggesting that Simba was innocent the whole time. Simba’s mother and brother meet with Pamela, to give her some evidence that Simba’s police captors participated in witchcraft – the conspiracy theory that Pamela has campaigned for.
    • That night, a group of young Sikh men catch the Granny Ripper in action, and turn him in to the police. Rumors of an impending cover-up circulate, and a massive riot breaks out in the Brickhall neighborhood. Meanwhile, the police raid the Hot Wax nightclub – the same club where Pinkwalla hosted Saladin on his last night as a demon. John Maslama, Pinkwalla, and Anahita Sufyan are arrested for being part of a narcotics ring. The raid on the city’s most popular South Asian hangout further infuriates the rioters.
    • During the riots, Gibreel dazedly wanders the streets of London. He ends up in a gritty neighborhood, where he rescues twelve prostitutes – who resemble Mahound’s twelve wives – from their pimp by blowing flames from his trumpet. He sets off to find and kill Saladin, whom he now calls “the adversary” (478). He has realized it was Saladin who made the phone calls. He goes to the Shaandaar Café, which seems to be burning when he arrives, and spots Saladin in the window of the building.
    • The next day, the police investigate two fires. One was at the Shaandaar Café, and killed Muhammed and Hind Sufyan. The second was at the Brickhall community relations center, and killed Jumpy Joshi and Pamela. This fire is believed to be arson.
    • The narrative flashes back to the previous night, this time told from Saladin’s perspective. Saladin saw the helicopters and riot police, and irrationally thought they were coming for him. He fled to the Shaandaar Café, and when he saw it burning, he rushed in to rescue the Sufyans. Before he could find them, a burning beam pinned him to the ground. At this point, Gibreel pursued him inside, but rescued Saladin instead of killing him. After he brings Saladin outside, Gibreel collapses from exhaustion; he has not slept in days. Part VII ends as the survivors of the fire – Gibreel, Saladin, Mishal Sufyan, and Hanif Johnson – are transported to the hospital.
  4. Analysis
    • In Part VII, arguably the climax of this loosely plotted novel, thematic symmetry becomes very important. Gibreel and Saladin spend much of this section hunting each other, and they only succeed when each rushes into the burning Shaandaar Café. Ironically, Saladin’s intentions when he enters the burning building are angelic – he wants to rescue the Sufyans. Gibreel’s, on the other hand, are evil - he enters to kill Saladin.
    • There are other points of symmetry between the two men. For example, Pamela becomes pregnant, while Alleluia secretly longs for a child. The two women play into the conceit of Saladin as a demon and Gibreel as an angel. Alleluia is cold and pure (at least in the sense that she is childless and has never married), and by climbing Everest, has come as close as any human can to the heavens. Pamela, in contrast, cheats on Saladin with Jumpy, and her sex appeal is described as earthy rather than otherworldly. The turban she wears to cover her shaved head also evokes associations with India, which ties into the identification between immigrants and the satanic ‘Goatman’ that Rushdie first established in Part V.
    • Chapter 1 includes the first moments in which Saladin begins to behave like a demon, and Gibreel like an angel. For most of the novel, the conceit has been inconsistent – in Part I, Saladin is certainly more relatable than the loutish Gibreel, and his tribulations after being arrested cast him as a victim rather than as a villain. Likewise, Gibreel acts selfishly when he refuses to help Saladin, and repeatedly abandons Alleluia after verbally abusing her. However, these roles reverse in Part VII, when Gibreel is hospitalized and begins to behave more like a victim, and Saladin succumbs to his evil urges, and begins to plot Gibreel’s murder. The reversal is, of course, complete when Gibreel rescues Saladin from the fire even though he considers him an adversary.
    • However, Gibreel’s association with good and Saladin’s with evil is never without ambiguity. “Consider this fallen man,” Rushdie writes. “He sought without remorse to shatter the mind of a fellow human being; and exploited, to do so, an entirely blameless woman, at least partly owing to his own impossible and voyeuristic desire for her. Yet this same man has risked death, with scarcely any hesitation, in a foolhardy rescue attempt” (482). If Saladin is evil because of his choices – as the narrator certainly leads us to believe – then we must also consider that Saladin rarely understands his own motives. Likewise, after being treated for schizophrenia, Gibreel is rarely in control of his actions because his medications make his mind sluggish and confused.
    • All told, the climax serves to complicate any simplistic associations and to thereby suggest the novel's primary theme: the existence of both angelic and satanic impulses within us. Not only do each of us have the potential for good and evil, but we further cannot simply separate one from the other. In the same way that cultural identity is presented in this novel as a hodgepodge of interrelated, contradictory elements, so too does our morality not operate along a simple binary construction. Gibreel does good by pursuing evil, and Saladin does evil without realizing it.
    • Although organized religion is less prominent in this section than it is in other parts of the book, it is still one of the novel’s most important themes, and thus continues to resonate. This section features the motif of sham religion – that is, people exploiting religion for material gain. Examples of this include Billy Battuta’s scam, in which he solicits rich people for money for an exorcism, and Eugene Dumsday’s anti-evolution radio show.
    • Finally, though Part VII is mostly concerned with the novel's religious themes, the cultural story also comes to a head. In a relatively grounded narrative, the city breaks into riot because a black man is murdered by police brutality. The large population of those considered 'the other' come together to battle the city's persecution. In this complicated social construction, fueled by rage, misunderstanding, and unintentional hatreds, Gibreel and Saladin's story takes on an even more mythic construction. They are playing out an archetypal conflict amidst a contemporary social event, which falls perfectly in line with Rushdie's affinity for merging the surreal and realistic.

The Satanic Verses Summary and Analysis of Part VIII - "The Parting of the Arabian Sea"
  1. Summary
    • This section returns to the Titlipur plotline introduced in Part IV.
    • Sri Srinivas, the toy merchant who buys Ayesha’s products, is having an ordinary day at his factory in Chatnapur, a village about an hour away from Titlipur. Suddenly, the entire population of Titlipur appears in the streets, surrounded by butterflies; this is the first stop on their pilgrimage. Mirza Saeed follows the group in his Mercedes, each day trying to convince Mishal and others to join him in the car, or to fly to Mecca by airplane.
    • When they arrive in Chatnapur, Mirza Saeed tries to enlist Srinivas to help talk the villagers out of their “suicide mission” (490). Srinivas, a Hindu, is dubious about the pilgrimage, but he changes his mind when he sees in Ayesha the face of the goddess Lakshmi. Although he does not convert to Islam, he joins the pilgrimage both to spend more time with Ayesha and to seek adventure. The butterflies welcome Srinivas by changing color to match the scarlet of his shirt.
    • As the pilgrims continue on their journey, thirst becomes a major problem. An elderly woman named Khadija is the first to die. Mirza Saeed begs everyone to take her body to a proper burial site, hoping that the detour will dissuade them from the folly of the pilgrimage. However, the pilgrims vote unanimously to simply bury Khadija by the side of the road so they can keep going. Khadija’s distraught husband, Sarpanch Muhammad Din, is perturbed by his wife's treatment, and he joins Mirza Saeed in the Mercedes the next day.
    • As the journey grows harder, the villagers begin to doubt Ayesha, who is growing more authoritarian by the day – she refuses to comfort Osman when his pet bullock dies, and she insists that the increasing number of corpses be abandoned by the side of the road. At night, the pilgrims gather around Mirza Saeed’s car to listen as he tells them stories. Ayesha threatens that the archangel will revoke his promise and refuse to part the sea if they continue to doubt him.
    • Mirza Saeed and the steadily worsening Mishal have a terrible quarrel about whether to continue the pilgrimage. Mr. Qureishi, Mishal’s father and a prominent banker, comes from the city to convince his daughter to try Western medicine, but he fails. Mishal begins to sleep with Ayesha instead of with her husband. Meanwhile, several more pilgrims defect to Mirza Saeed, riding with him in the Mercedes; these are Osman, Mrs. Qureishi, and Sri Srinivas. As word of the pilgrimage spreads, it becomes a media sensation, as well as a focal point for sectarian tensions. When the pilgrims arrive in Sarang, a suburb near the sea, a violent mob of miners awaits them. The butterflies suddenly vanish.
    • Ayesha is unperturbed by the threat, and leads the pilgrims through town towards the mob. Right before the confrontation begins, an incredible torrent of rain falls and disperses the miners. Mirza Saeed, Osman, and Srinivas pull Mishal and Ayesha into the Mercedes and drive them to safety. After the rain, the butterflies return, and lead the dispersed pilgrims back together. Meanwhile, a catastrophic mine accident kills 15,000 miners. The once-hostile people of Sarang begin to believe that God endorses Ayesha’s pilgrimage.
    • The next day, Ayesha allows the pilgrims to worship at a mosque in Sarang. While they are praying, a local leaves a baby on the steps of the building. Upon discovering the baby, Ayesha and the Imam declare it to be a product of the devil, and they allow the surrounding crowd to stone it. This callousness disillusions the original pilgrims – who do not participate in the stoning – and they listen as Mirza Saeed interrogates Ayesha about her visions. When she admits that the archangel sings to her in the form of popular songs, the pilgrims realize they have been duped. They then dance in the mosque’s courtyard.
    • Mirza Saeed offers to fly Ayesha and a few other villagers to Mecca, so that can complete the pilgrimage while preserving a shred of credibility. She initially agrees, but then decides to push on towards the sea anyway. The people follow her, determined to finish what they started. When the pilgrims arrive at the beach, the butterfly flock takes the shape of the archangel, and the villagers regain their faith. Everyone walks into the water, waiting for the sea to part. It does not, however, and they eventually sink silently beneath the waves. The doubters – Mirza Saeed, Srinivas, Mrs. Qureishi, Osman, and Muhammad Din – rush into the water to save their friends, but almost drown themselves in the process. Lifeguards try to rescue everyone, but only succeed in saving the doubters. When they are interviewed about what happened, all of the survivors except Mirza Saeed claim that they saw the sea part underwater, forming a tunnel for the pilgrims to walk through. (These observations conflict with the fact that bodies of the pilgrims are already washing up on shore.)
    • Mirza Saeed returns home to Titlipur, which has begun to decay since the entire population left. He sits in his rocking chair each day, barely aware that he is starving to death. However, just as he is about to die, he notices that the village’s sacred tree is burning. He goes to investigate, and the flames engulf him. As he dies, he has a vision of himself in the sea with Ayesha. She urges him to open himself up to her, and despite an initial refusal, he eventually acquiesces. The sea parts, and they walk to Mecca together.
  2. Analysis
    • This plotline echoes many of the same criticisms of religion that Rushdie makes in the London and Jahilia plots. For example, the narrator strongly implies that the villagers choose to follow Islam or Hinduism based on which will benefit them materially. Osman the clown chooses Islam to escape the restrictions that come with being a Hindu untouchable, and likewise, “Sri Srinivas, a Brahmin, was obviously not a man who had ever considered making a pilgrimage to Mecca” (489). By specifying that Srinivas is a Brahmin rather than simply a Hindu, Rushdie makes a pointed critique of Hinduism as a creed that favors the privileged and enforces the status quo (at least in some parts of India). The population of Titlipur is drawn towards Ayesha in large part because their faith assuages their unhappiness and poverty. The most dramatic critique is delivered through the way Ayesha develops an authoritarian streak similar to the one developed by Mahound in the Jahilia plot.
    • Given his criticisms of religion, one might expect Rushdie to admire Mirza Saeed, the only Titlipur resident who is skeptical of Ayesha’s pilgrimage. However, Mirza Saeed is portrayed as aloof and out of touch with the common people; he follows the pilgrims in his Mercedes, and lacks the empathy to understand why they risking their lives to complete the journey. As the narrator explains, Mirza Saeed has a disease “of detachment, of being unable to connect[himself] to things, events, feelings” (504). As he becomes more desperate to save his wife, he goes from superior to pathetic, and his submission at the end of the novel suggests defeat rather than moral or logical correctness – however understandable his objections to the ‘Ayesha Hajj’ may be. In other words, rationality is not necessarily the superior approach to life. Further, when he offers to fly Ayesha and a few pilgrims to Mecca, he is paralleling Abu Simbel, who in the Jahilia plotline tempted Mahound to accept a few pagan goddesses in exchange for his support. In other words, Rushdie associates him implicitly with the devil, even as the reader can most likely sympathize with his intentions. As with everything else in The Satanic Verses, Mirza Saeed is not easily categorizable, but rather reflects a profound contradiction. Both he and Ayesha are capable of angelic and satanic impulses.
    • Like the other plotlines, the Titlipur story does not have clear protagonists and antagonists. Mirza Saeed is flawed for the reasons described above, and though Ayesha can act cruelly, she never becomes a complete monster. For example, when the crowds stone the infant, they do so more at the Imam’s command than at Ayesha’s. Her quote from Scripture – that “everything will be asked of us” – is at best an implicit endorsement of the stoning (511). It can easily be interpreted to mean that they should not trouble themselves with obstacles that distract them from their path; after all, this is her perspective on eschewing proper burial for those pilgrims that die on the journey. Likewise, Mirza Saeed’s vision at the end of the plotline seems to legitimize her cause, even though the evidence in the rest of the section often points against it.
    • Despite Rushdie’s issues with religion, he seems to admire the pilgrims’ faith and determination. The only true heroes of the Titlipur plot are the common people who follow Ayesha and are horrified when she descends into corruption. They do not participate in the stoning – and thus stay morally pure – and they potentially die as martyrs, if misguided ones. Their deaths serve to illustrate the cost of absolute faith, be that faith put into religion, a leader, or a political ideology.
    • The Titlipur plot exists, for the most part, parallel to the other plotlines. However, it includes sly references to the themes that Rushdie emphasizes in other parts of the books. For instance, when it becomes clear that the Arabian Sea will not part for the pilgrims, the authorities accuse them of illegal immigration. This is yet another illustration of Rushdie's signature synthesis of the spiritual and political. There are also many structural parallels to the Jahilia dream: Ayesha’s corruption; her followers’ uncertainty; and Mirza Saeed’s vision just before he dies, which is very similar to Mahound’s. In both plotlines, the faithful must deal with persecution by outsiders, but despite their heroism, their faith is ultimately shown to be destructive.

The Satanic Verses Summary and Analysis of Part IX - "A Wonderful Lamp"
  1. Chapter 1
    • Part IX takes place eighteen months after the Shaandaar Café fire.
    • It turns out that Saladin had a heart attack as Gibreel was rescuing him, and it took him more than a year to recover from the ensuing bypass surgery. One day, he receives a telegram from Nasreen the Second, informing him that his father is dying quickly. Saladin instantly forgives his father for all their disagreements, and flies home to India. Coincidentally, he sits next to S.S. Sisodia on the plane. Sisodia chatters for the whole flight, and Saladin ignores him by reflecting on the past year’s events.
    • John Maslama and Pinkwalla were acquitted of the narcotics charges due to a lack of evidence. Jumpy and Pamela died in the community relations center fire, which was likely started to destroy the evidence of witchcraft that Pamela was given. Gibreel produced and starred in two films based on his dreams, The Parting of the Arabian Sea and Mahound, both of which were critical and commercial flops. His fortune is quickly drying up. After her parents’ deaths, Mishal Sufyan had nightmares wherein her mother reprimanded her for her bad life choices. She responded by getting a job, marrying Hanif Johnson, and becoming the owner of the remodeled Shaandaar Café. Anahita was briefly sent to live with a conservative aunt, but intends to move in with Mishal Sufyan once the café renovations are complete.
    • Saladin wonders if Zeeny will meet him at the airport (he wired her news of his arrival), but she is not there. When Saladin arrives at his old house, Nasreen the Second and Kasturba welcome him back. There is a moment of tension when Saladin learns his father does not know he is dying. Saladin insists Changez should be told, but the women feel he has no right to make demands. Changez asks Saladin to shave him, and they reconcile. Saladin laments that he has only come to know the kind, vulnerable side of Changez so soon before his death.
    • Saladin and the women prepare Changez for death. They invite all his relatives and friends to a party, at which Changez enjoys himself immensely. They then send for Panikkar, a hospice doctor who at last explains to Changez that he is dying. Changez is not surprised, but he is relieved to learn that the end is unlikely to be painful. A few days later, his health declines sharply, and Saladin, Nasreen, and Kasturba bring him to the hospital, where he dies with an enigmatic smile on his face. Saladin is moved by how bravely and silently his father faced death.
    • Saladin inherits the lamp his father promised him when he was a boy in Part I. After his father’s funeral, he rubs the lamp and Zeeny suddenly arrives - he assumes she must be his genie. She apologizes for not coming sooner, and they make love, after which he tells her he is changing his name back to Salahuddin. In addition to the lamp, Salahuddin receives a sizeable fortune and an old schoolhouse from his father’s estate - despite their fighting, Changez never disinherited him. He falls back in with Zeeny and Bhupen Gandhi, and together with Bhupen’s new girlfriend, Swatilekha, they attend a demonstration organized by the communist party.
    • Salahuddin hears rumors that Gibreel is returning to Bombay. His new film will be “a modern-dress remake of the Ramayana story in which the heroes and heroines have become corrupt and evil” (553). Salahuddin becomes strangely nervous when he hears about Gibreel's return, and even more so when he hears that Alleluia has also come to Bombay to climb a nearby peak. She broke up with Gibreel after the Brickhall fires, and remains furious at both men.
    • On the same day as the communist demonstration, Alleluia and S.S. Sisodia both die under suspicious circumstances – Alleluia falls from the same building Rekha Merchant jumped from, and Sisodia is found in Gibreel’s apartment with a bullet in his chest. While the police search for him, Gibreel arrives at Salahuddin’s house. He rants to Saladin, confessing to the murders and admitting that he still thinks himself an angel. Gibreel explains that Sisodia brought Alleluia to his house, hoping to reconcile the couple so that Gibreel would be amenable to starring in a film Sisodia was producing. However, Gibreel kept hearing the salacious rhymes that Saladin recited about Alleluia on his prank calls, and he killed them both. Just as Gibreel finishes his confession, the police knock on the door, and Gibreel absentmindedly starts rubbing the lamp. Gibreel opens the lamp and pulls out a gun, which Salahuddin realizes his father must have hidden there. Gibreel shoots himself, and Salahuddin leaves the house with Zeeny.
  2. Analysis
    • This coda to the London plot sees all of the main characters – Saladin, Gibreel, and Alleluia – return to Bombay. In many ways, The Satanic Verses is an unconventional story. It upends the way literary texts normally deal with causality, character development, and the role of the narrator. However, Part IX includes many elements of the traditional literary conclusion. It includes resolutions for not only the main characters, but also for secondary figures like Mishal Sufyan and Pinkwalla. It also ties the Jahilia and Titlipur plots into the main storyline by explaining that Gibreel made his dreams into movies. When reading them, it is easy to forget that the Mahound and Ayesha stories were all dreams that Gibreel was having.
    • However, the biggest departure from the rest of the novel lies in the resolution Rushdie provides for Saladin. Over the course of The Satanic Verses, characters have undergone significant change. Most obviously, Gibreel and Saladin transform into an angel and a demon, but these transformations also reveal sides of their personalities that the men had never explored before. However, these changes are not exactly character development – Gibreel and Saladin have no control over what happens to them, and the changes are arbitrary, not responses to things they have learned.
    • All of this changes in Part IX. In this section, Saladin takes the humility and compassion he has learned from his ordeal, and applies it to his life. He forgives his father Changez after decades of estrangement, and tenderly cares for him during his final days. He also embraces his Indian identity by moving back to Bombay and changing his name back to Salahuddin. As if to confirm that the change is genuine, the narrator starts referring to him as Salahuddin after he reconciles with his father. Saladin also joins his friends Zeeny and Bhupen in the communist demonstration, something he would have looked askance at earlier in the novel. These changes showcase a prouder, less selfish Saladin. The narrator confirms the character’s new maturity by referring to this time in Saladin’s life as ‘childhood’s end.’
    • However, Saladin is not able to break completely with his past. When he meets Panikkar, he muses to himself silently about this “name the English would mispronounce” (542). Further, when his father dies, he feels uncomfortable with the Muslim custom of putting fabric in the corpse’s mouth and under its eyelids. Although the character has turned over a new leaf, Rushdie makes it clear that his time in England will always influence his thinking and the way he interacts with his native culture. It would be disingenuous for Rushdie to suggest at novel's end that a person can be defined in a binary fashion - as simply 'Indian' or 'not Indian.' Instead, Saladin will remain a complicated mixture of identities; what has changed is that he is able to find peace with that.
    • Interestingly, Saladin seems to have at least momentarily eschewed acting ambitions in this section, while Gibreel continues to produce and act in films. Considering the way that their vocations suggested their ever-shifting identities, it makes sense that Saladin would seek peace, while Gibreel continues to pursue different identities. It is perhaps Gibreel's inability to accept himself that explains the tumult that leads to his suicide.
    • Near the end of the novel, Saladin paraphrases Rosa Diamond’s quip from Part III. “Now I know what a ghost is,” he thinks to himself. “Unfinished business, that’s what” (554). This observation resonates with Saladin’s inability to escape his past. Just as he cannot entirely stop thinking the way he did in London, he also cannot cut his ties with Gibreel and Alleluia, try as he might. When Gibreel visits Saladin shortly before committing suicide, he finishes some business by reconciling with his old adversary. However, he also leaves more unfinished business for Saladin by revealing that his prank phone calls in Part VII eventually caused Gibreel to murder Alleluia – a fact that will undoubtedly plague Saladin for the rest of his life. Despite Saladin’s very real character development, the events of the novel were so catastrophic that the character will always have ‘unfinished business.’
    • This sense of 'unfinished business' also gives some insight into Rushdie's organization for the novel. He explores his themes through myriad variations told over four different plots (the main plot, the Mahound plot, the Ayesha plot, and the short Imam-in-exile plot). The multiple narratives reinforce the novel's idea that our identities are forever in conflict with history - the history of our country, of our religion, of our descent, and of our personal lives. Each of these stories reveal how the past influences the present, and therefore can we never escape it. As soon as we think we understand ourselves, we are confronted by a complication. In exploring how both every man and mankind in general in capable of angelic and satanic possibilities, Rushdie suggests that we only grow more complicated as our history proliferates. No matter how at peace we may become, myriad histories compete to complicate our lives and identities. Our business of self-discovery, therefore, is never complete.

In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 1: See - The Satanic Verses.

Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)

  1. Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2022
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