In Step Across This Line by Rushdie, how well does the author achieve his goal for writing?
I need to point out the theme of the book and show how well Rushdie achieves his goal for writing this book. I am writing a 2 - 3 page essay on Salem Possessed: The Social Origins of Withchcraft by Boyer and Nissenbaum.
The collection of essays in his work does not directly deal with the issue of Salem as much as it focuses on the basic idea of how the post Cold War world is shaped and formed through ideas and political control. That being said, I do think that one can use the ideas being formed in "Step Across This Line" and tie them into Salem. Rushdie's fundamental premise in the essays and demonstrated in his closing Tanner Speech on Human Values is the idea that the "frontier" has always been a part of defining human consciousness. There is an awareness of this border, this line of demarcation that allows division to occur. Yet, in the course of human experience, this line becomes blurred as a new one is formed. Thus, human experience is one where we constantly "step across this line" into a new realm.
Salem might very well have defined this in its own right. On one hand, those who created the hysteria of witchcraft with false accusations did so through the idea of creating their own "frontier" or "line." Something was marked as "bad" or "unholy" and it existed in the realms of the Titubas of the world as well as those who were "different." That was the line of witchcraft, of demonizing. There were supposedly clear references and distinctions between what was "good" and what was "evil." Rushdie's thesis of how the frontier is constantly moving and the lines are constantly being crossed would be proven with what happened after this initial demarcation was made. After supposedly clearly defining what was deemed as "good" and "bad," the line became crossed when people used their own agendas to accuse others of witchcraft. A line was crossed at this point, the line that demarcated "good" and "bad" was now being used to define "us" against "them," power against the powerless, elites versus the majority. There were more lines crossed in terms of public interest and private pursuits and theocratic government with fanatic fear and paranoia. These lines all became blurred and part of the reason why the Salem Witchcraft Trials descended into madness and sheer anarchy would be due to the fact that these lines bifurcated and intersected with one another, proving that the initial lines ended up proving to be useless. The idea of being able to "step across this line" ended up defining human and civil experience as Salem and its trials became a "new line" that represented how bad bad political leadership can be.