Simon Lewis’ Justified and Ancient
He laughs best who laughs last: That is one of the statements made in Simon Lewis’ short story from the year two thousand. Another one may be a statement of justice. Justice may be a term of the type which value is diminished because of the word put on it. Reading the short story provokes us to reconsider our normal interpretation of the word since the word acts paradoxical in it. When are you justified to do certain actions and who is justified against who?
Lee has travelled half the way across the globe to India. He is exhausted as he reaches the summit of the mountains near the city of Delhi. The story is set here – far from civilization. For most it would be a great experience to witness the small village-society living on the edge of human development, but Lee does not seem to be interested at all, in fact he seems impatient. In the village the children are playing together with a small, wooden cart, it does not seem as if they have access to actual toys. The buildings of the village are described as “quaint little houses” (p. 4 l. 46): The shop of the town is a hut painted blue with empty cigarette packs strung above the door as an indication of trading, and the temple is a large wood and stone construction. In the hut where Lee makes his deal with the president, no chairs are found – they need to squat down by an earthen stove (p. 2 l. 53). All these are signs that the village is quite poor and rather uncivilized. The chieftain/president of the village does seem to be proud of his home though, and it is described towards the ending of the story how the village has prospered - The fact that a little boy is in possession of a Discman confirms this. It is also by the little boy in the shop we are introduced to the title of the short story – but more about the title later.
It seems quite clear from the start that Lee is a shallow person with a very materialistic and superficial way of looking at his life. For...
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