How does Salman Rushdie explore the concept of home in "Good Advice is Rarer than Rubies"?Examples and quotes are encourage. thanks.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the short story, Rushdie explores the idea of "there's no place like home" with a cosmopolitan modern angle of perception.  In the original quotation, Dorothy takes the advice of the Good Witch in wearing the Red Ruby Slippers and clicking them three times to go home, leaving the foreign and exotic land of Oz.  The advice is taken as a means of departure from a land that is not hers to one that represents Dorothy's life.  The "rubies" are tools that help her go back to this setting of familiarity.

Rushdie plays around and inverts this idea in his story in his depiction of the relationship between Indians and Britain.  In the traditional sense, many Indian women undergo the process of arranged marriages, compelling them to leave their "homes" with the full expectation that they are going to a new world where "home" will be fully recognized with their husbands, sight unseen, and their prospective children.  In this understanding, home is one where rubies are essential, as many forms of graft and bribery are offered by these women to people, mostly men like Muhammed Ali, who ask for such gratuities in the form of jewels like rubies.  In this conception, "rubies" help pave the way to go to a new understanding of "home," one that is not realized but fully expected.  Where Rushdie's inversion of this lies in his depiction of Miss Rehanna.  She is expected to fit into the traditional mode, but clearly does not.  Rather, she takes the advice offered by Muhammed Ali, in understanding what not to say so that she will fail the questions/ exam and be required to say (Ali seems to be giving her the rubies to accomplish her journey, which is actually to stay rather than leave.)  Through this, Rehanna becomes the anti- Dorothy, in that she understands her home as one where departure is not needed.  Whereas Dorothy clicks her heels and wants to go home, Miss Rehana takes the advice of Ali and does the opposite, in order to remain in her home.  One seeks to go home while the other seeks to merely remain in her home.

Rushdie seems to be taking a very Modernist approach to the concepts of voyage and home.  As far back as Homer and Ulysses, the idea of "home" has been something where characters must struggle through harsh difficulties to realize.  Dororthy must do the same.  Yet, very similar to Joyce in Ulyssess, Rushdie internalizes the external in his depiction of home through Miss Rehana.  In such a notion, Rushdie suggests that the concept of "home" does not have to be set against multiple conditions over which one must triumph to realize and return.  Rather, in some places and for some conditions, Rushdie suggests that home is something where one might have to struggle against multiple conditions and simply to remain as realized.

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Good Advice Is Rarer than Rubies

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