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Good Advice Is Rarer than Rubies by Salman Rushdie

Brief summary

One Tuesday morning, the beautiful Miss Rehana leaves a bus in front of the British Consulate somewhere in Pakistan. Her parents are dead,and her fiancé,who lives in Bradford and who she has not seen since she was nine years old,has sent for her,and she has come to apply for a visa to immigrate to Britain. She is immediately accosted (D.: jmd.ansprechen) by the advice expert Muhammad Ali,who is so attracted to the beautiful young girl,that he even offers her his advice for free. Miss Rehana conscientiously uses his advice, but not to”pass” the test. Instead, she deliberately (D.:mit Absicht) fails,telling Muhammad afterwards that she has a job in a great house as ayah /nanny to three boys who would have been very sad to see her go.

Structure of the plot

Rushdie has always been fascinated by motion pictures, and the action of this single incident is presented to the reader as if he was watching actors in a film. At the beginning of the story Miss Rehana is at first concealed (D.: verborgen) by a cloud of dust,and then makes a dramatic entrance when she descends from the bus. The narrative is divided into short scenes, in which the reader forms certain expectations as to (D:hinsichtlich) how the narrative could continue.

p.203 -205 /15 : the reader has formed the impression that Miss Rehana is a beautiful and polite young lady.

p.205/16-206/27: Miss Rehana does not seem to be so polite any longer, as she is obviously making fun of the old man.
p.206/28-208/2: Muhammad Ali,the crook and swindler,who usually feels no guilt when it
comes to tricking women into giving him money,is giving his advice for
free.
p.208/3- 208/25: Miss Rehana is angry now and the old man feels like a fool, as she tells him off (D: jmd. ausschimpfen) p.208/26- 210/29: Miss Rehana is happy again. Against all the expectations she does not want to leave Pakistan and go to Britain to marry Mustafa Dar. Muhammad is puzzled,but impressed by Miss Rehana`s determination and the beautiful smile she gives him when she departs.

The theatrical opening finds its parallel in the ending:”Her last smile,which he watched from the compound until the bus concealed it in a dust-cloud,was the happiest thing he had ever seen in his long,hot,hard,unloving life.”

Setting
The compound . Rushdie has revived the colonial setting of the compound or contact zone.The area in and around it is clearly defined by a bus-stop,a shanty-town and the closely guarded consulate,where the privileges for entry to the West are granted. The author wants to show that colonial structures still exist even after independence and that entry to the West is still regarded as a privilege.

Good Advice Is Rarer Than Rubies by Salman Rushdie

Point of view

The story is told by a third-person narrator who concentrates on Muhammad Ali. He offers us insight into Muhammad`s motives and his fascination with Miss Rehana. As the reader concentrates more or less on him and forgets about Miss Rehana, the outcome of the story comes very much as a surprise to him.

Style
The story is written in a very simple style with relatively short sentences. The reader is not distracted (D.: ablenken) from the events by any subplots or long,descriptive passages. An important feature is the spoken language, which gives a realistic sense of the way many people speak in Pakistan. Muhammad`s English is not fluent and full of grammar mistakes. In contrast to him Miss Rehana`s English is perfect; she has probably had a better education.The protagonists`s language contains elements which are typically English (“tip-top”,”absolutely topsy-turvy”). On the other hand, Hindi,Urdu and Arabic expressions also come up (“lala,sahib,pukka,babuji,bibi,salaam,wallah”). Besides there are expressions...
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