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Please elaborate more on what Salman Rushdie meant by these statements in Grimus: "Our...

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ketaina | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted April 26, 2013 at 1:17 AM via web

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Please elaborate more on what Salman Rushdie meant by these statements in Grimus: "Our identity is at once partial and plural. Sometimes we find that we straddle two cultures; at other times, that we fall between two stools."

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted April 26, 2013 at 6:53 AM (Answer #1)

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This quotation is ironically more famous than the original novel in which it appears. Rushdie's quote from this text has been seized upon by postcolonial theorists to discuss the curious position that migrants find themselves as both belonging and not belonging to their home culture and their new host culture. Rushdie, himself an Indian who lives in the USA, writes a lot about the experience of migrancy and the way that so many migrants both occupy a place of possibility, captured by the idea of "straddling two cultures," being able to take advantage of the best of both worlds, but also a place characterised by a lack of opportunity, or a very difficult position. This is captured by the image of "falling between two stools."

Hybridity, which is the cultural mix that migrants are able to experience and live first-hand, relates to the different perspective and experiences that migrants have. Having spent some of their lives in a radically different culture and part of the world, they are able to look critically upon both their own culture and their new culture and extract the best from both. Hybridity, in this sense, is therefore a place of unbridled opportunity. However, at the same time, Rushdie recognises that the experience of migrancy is profoundly negative for many. Being a migrant means that you are never fully accepted in your new world and you are never allowed to return fully into your old world. Concepts such as "belonging" are forever alien to you. This is at once both the strength and the curse of migrancy. It is unescapable that migrants have a "partial and plural" identity, and this ambiguity affords them certain possibilities as well as distinct challenges.

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