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I Love Pie Essay

2456 words - 10 pages

Salman Rushdie's creation, Saleem Sinai, has a self-proclaimed "overpowering desire for form" (363). In writing his own autobiography Saleem seems to be after what Frank Kermode says every writer is a after: concordance. Concordance would allow Saleem to bring meaning to moments in the "middest" by elucidating (or creating) their coherence with moments in the past and future. While Kermode talks about providing this order primarily through an "imaginatively predicted future" (8), Saleem approaches the project by ordering everything in his past into neat, causal relationships, with each event a result of what preceded it. While he is frequently skeptical of the true order of the past, he ...view middle of the document...

By viewing Cyrus' motivation in this way Saleem says "[I] found myself obliged, yet again, to accept responsibility for the events of my turbulent, fabulous world" (309). There is an obvious note of skepticism toward these most overt acts of placing himself at the center of things. At one point he asks himself "am I so far gone, in my desperate need for meaning, that I'm prepared to distort everything‹to re-write the whole history of my times purely in order to place myself in a central role?" (190).
But while he might doubt his most overt reordering of the past, he is never skeptical of the past's monolithic effect on its future. Saleem assembles the first book to demonstrate the breadth of his "inheritance" (119), and the heft of the book underscores the degree to which he believes that the past is "the cold waiting vains of the future" (7); to understand the activity of any moment, you need look no further than the past. When considering who he is, he responds, "My answer: I am the sum total of everything that went before me, of all I have been seen done, of everything done-to-me" (440). His belief‹and Rushdie has him carefully say "my answer," rather than "the answer"‹leads him to write his autobiography to demonstrate the way each event is the result of "everything that went before." As intended we come to see the characters as the product not of any forward movement, but as a product of what has already come. That which Jean Paul Sartre says of Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury is also true of Saleem's story: "the past takes on a sort of super-reality" (267), for it is here that the answers to the present lay. Saleem, like Faulkner, would have us believe that the characters are "explicable only in terms of what has been" (271).
But Saleem-now, Rushdie's creation, is explicable in very different terms. He is undoubtedly shaped by the past, but the primary motivating factor in his actions is the uncertainty of the future. This motivation falls into two broad categories. First, he wants to impress Padma and his son with his life story. He explains that "this is what keeps me going: I hold on to Padma. Padma is what matters" (337). As he admits, he is "needing-to-be-loved" (392), and by crafting his story carefully he can impress Padma with his worth. The very fact that he is needing to be loved, rather than is loved attests to the uncertainty of this venture. The uncertainty and anxiety is exaggerated when Padma leaves him for a spell, shortly after her departure he laments, "I feel confused . . . in her absence my certainties are falling apart" (187). In a life defined by numerous "exiles," forced by his parents, Saleem's uncertainty about any relationship is sorely felt.
His other motivation for acting, and acting quickly is his desire to finish the story before his life ends. In the first page he explains, "time (having no further use for me) is running out. I will soon be thirty-one years old. Perhaps. If my crumbling, overused body...

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