Who really learns a lesson in "Good Advice is Rarer than Rubies"?

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In Salman Rushdie's "Good Advice is Rarer Than Rubies," the two main characters both learn a lesson.

First, Muhammad Ali learns that not all women are "Tuesday" women. Prior to the appearance of Rehana, Muhammad Ali believes that all women are only there, at the consulate, to finalize their...

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In Salman Rushdie's "Good Advice is Rarer Than Rubies," the two main characters both learn a lesson.

First, Muhammad Ali learns that not all women are "Tuesday" women. Prior to the appearance of Rehana, Muhammad Ali believes that all women are only there, at the consulate, to finalize their move to England to be with their husbands (ones which exist because of arranged marriages). After offering to help Rehana for free (because of her beauty), Rehana refuses the help and decides to return home. Therefore, Muhammad Ali learns that not all women are willing to adhere to the traditions and expectations of their cultures. Some women, in fact, wish to be something more than a product of societal and cultural expectations.

On the other hand, Rehana also learns a lesson, although this may not be found to be as obvious as the lesson Muhammad Ali learns. One could argue that the lesson Rehana learns revolves around the battle of the sexes. She refuses the free help Muhammad Ali offers her. This help could be looked at in a few ways. First, the fact that men are in charge of issuing the visas to the women could speak to the patriarchal nature of society. By refusing Muhammad Ali's help, she is refusing the notion that men are more powerful than women. She illustrates her power, as a woman, to deny his help; therefore, learning that women can be more powerful than society believes. Second, Rehana learns that her own freedom and perspective are more important than the expectations society places upon them (women). She learns that she possesses a voice by saying no and that there is nothing that anyone can do about it.

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In Good Advice Is Rarer Than Rubies, the tables are turned when Muhammad Ali realizes that he has a lot more to learn about the perspectives of a young 'Tuesday' woman than he previously imagined.

In the story, Muhammad is a confidence man who tricks gullible and trusting young women out of their money, in exchange for supposed good advice about getting visas to England. As part of his ploy to gain the trust of these young women, Muhammad refers to his 'grey hairs' as a symbol of his wisdom. Indeed, throughout Muhammad's interactions with Miss Rehana, he constantly portrays himself as a savior, ready and willing to rescue any young woman from unscrupulous embassy officials and their stalling tactics.

Yet, it is Miss Rehana who teaches Muhammad Ali a thing or two about 'Tuesday' women: not all of them are enthused with the idea of arranged marriages, even for the purposes of self-preservation or for the prospect of a better future. Miss Rehana's joy at being turned down for a visa perplexes Muhammad Ali until he realizes that there are some young women in his society who would rather choose for themselves rather than let societal expectations dictate their life's direction.

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