In what ways is the opening section of "Good Advice is Rarer than Rubies" effective?

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teachsuccess eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The opening section of the story draws our attention to the beautiful, young Miss Rehana. Dialogue is sparse, and this opening sequence is largely narrative.

Enclosed within the sparse dialogue is the question of when the British Consulate will open and why this is important to Miss Rehana. This type of opening section is very effective because it builds momentum through an atmosphere of mystery. We are inspired to question what business a beautiful, young woman can have at the British Consulate on the last Tuesday of the month.

Now, not only is the writer content to tell us that Miss Rehana is physically beautiful, but he also provides us a further context to determine what her character is like. In the opening section, men respond to her with courtesy and frank admiration. Why? She is respectful, cheerful, and kind. Miss Rehana has the gift of making people feel good about themselves. She tells the bus driver that his bus is beautiful, and in response, he jumps down and makes a gallant show of opening the door for her, "bowing theatrically as she descended."

Meanwhile, the guard at the Consulate gates also falls under her spell. Usually gruff with the other Tuesday women, he melts like butter under Miss Rehana's influence. At this point, our curiosity is piqued about Tuesday women and Miss Rehana herself. Is Miss Rehana somehow connected to the women and yet set apart from them? Since the writer uses imagery to highlight Miss Rehana's uniqueness, we are not only able to surmise from the opening sequence that she is likely the protagonist of the story, but that she is also somehow different from the other Tuesday women.

So, the opening section is effective in the sense that it builds momentum, piques our interest, and establishes the setting for the conflict that is soon to follow.

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The "opening section" is a bit confusing to me.  I think more detail is needed here in order to deliver a more focused answer.  I would say that Rushdie's description of the "Tuesday Women" who arrive at the consulate is extremely powerful.  It reflects the differences between cultures in the British Consulate has a shanty of women in front of it.  These women parade by the bus load to the consulate in order for visas.  The collision of values is something that helps to bring to light Rushdie's analysis of Eastern and Western notions of the good.  In the end, the opening of this paradigm helps to allow a strong exposition of what is explored throughout the short story.

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Good Advice Is Rarer than Rubies

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