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Psychological ‘De-territorialisation’ and ‘Re-territorialisation’ of the Third Space in Salman Rushdie’s “The Courter”: An Analysis

Author: 
Dr. Vidya, V.
Subject Area: 
Life Sciences
Abstract: 

A sense of identity starts with the concept of birthplace, and from there starts the question of rootedness, rootlessness, belongingness, unbelongingness, homeliness, unhomeliness, ‘de-territorialisation’ of the psyche and ‘re-territorialisation’ of the mind. In “The Courter” of the collection of short stories, East, West, Salman Rushdie depicts the psychological ‘de-territorialisation of the Indianness in the main characters as they settle down in England. This process of ‘de-territorialisation’ is accompanied by their attempts to ‘re-territorialise’ their mind-sets and establish cross cultural communication, exemplifying Rushdie’s statement: “To forget that there is a world beyond the community to which we belong, to confine ourselves within narrowly defined cultural frontiers, would be, I believe, to go voluntarily into that form of internal exile which in South Africa is called the ‘homeland’.” (IH 19) Mary’s Indian roots prevent her from connecting with the surrounding structures that exist outside the invisible domain of the India of her mind. The Courter aids Mary in ‘de-territorialising’ her limited territories of her mind and connects her to the Western ones. Through the jealous eyes of Mary’s grandson, the narrator, Rushdie metaphorically depicts both the allure, and alienation present within a state, or relationship of cross-cultural integration. This is an echo of Rushdie’s statement: “What does it mean to be ‘Indian’ outside India? How can culture be preserved without becoming ossified?” (IH 17) Rushdie uses the chess game within “The Courter” as a metaphor to depict the constant battle of balance that one must maintain to exist outside one’s native land. This paper analyses how Mary, the Courter and the narrator (Mary’s grandson) ‘de-territorialise’ and ‘re-territorialise’ their psyches in their encounters with the West and provide answers to the existential question raised by Rushdie: “How are we to live in the world?” (IH 18).

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