Interpretation of Rushdie and Kazantzakis’ Stories As I look back now, and begin to appraise the independant novels that I have read in the past few weeks, I was both stunned and surprised by the psychological effects that they had imposed on my mind. Whether it was Rushdie’s tale of diabolical consequences or Kazantzakis’ story on the trial of Christ, I found it increasingly difficult to maintain a coalition between the influence of society and the animosity of religion. Both novels featured plots centralized around the presence of an unseen mystical force, or rather, the significance and power of God. Whether it was the religious or saintly detriment of God’s influence or society’s standardization of identifiying God, the time factors of each book did little to alter the author’s expressions and inclinations about religious beliefs. The Satanic Verses featured the modern day society compressing the main characters with their positronic rules and restrictions.
The Last Temptation of Christ focused on the feudalism exhibited by the oppressors of the world at the current time (Roman militia). Upon the climatic ending of each novel, I would effortlessly integrate the author’s deluge of spiritual dynamism with my own. This produced an ethical conflict in my mind that fought to distinguish what prominence God had maintained in my lifetime. I could scarcely believe that such literature would not have a profound effect on an individual who possessed strong religious background (this assimilates the decision of the exodus Rushdie has maintained contrary to the threats of the Islamic community) Never have I encountered such literature that treads upon on line between celestial religion versus oppresive regime Therefore, in analyzing and interpreting each piece of fiction, I was able to understand what similarities they held and why such novels can procreate an undersirable amount of calamity in the world. The supernatural portrayed a dominant role in both texts. Each author seemed to enjoy casting these uncanny forces against their main characters in order to induce their thoughts across much more clearly.
In the Satanic Verses, I found the physical metamorphosis of Gibreel Farishta and Saladin Chamcha to be terrifiyingly graphic and demeaning. “Looking into the mirror at his altered face, Chamcha attempted to remind himself of himself. I am a real man, he told the mirror, with a real history and a planned-out future. I am a man to whom certain things are of importance: rigour, self-discipline, reason, the pursuit of what is noble without recourse to that old crutch” (Saladin remarking about his physical appearance). Having their physical status altered, they were unable to communicate on a humane level with other people in the world.
It seemed as though their lack of faith and nobility to God had created an ethereal war between them and the supernatural spectrum. The angelic Gibreel was now only capable of exhibiting feelings of order, peace and love; while the demonic Saladin was forced to perform grotesque feats of chaos, hatred and violence. Before their transformations into socially unacceptable deviants, Gibreel fought long and hard in his prophetic movie career and Saladin enagaged in truthful, honest business negotiations. Their emotions and mental status was drastically changed by this supernatural intervention. It was not until Gibreel and Saladin had visited the various parts of the world in order to experience the humanity and benevolence that God had wanted them to witness, that they both eventually looked deep into their hearts to realise that only they controlled their desires and aspirations with their newly granted powers (by this time, Gibreel had conferred with Saladin about being a “Pawn in God’s game of Life).
Both these characters began as non-believers, idle worshippers of their religious affiliation, but towards the end of the book, they had transformed into faithful advocates of God. I can only assume that such decisions were reached due to metamorphosis that they endured and the punishment that they had suffered. It was generally accepted in their society that the messiah will punish all zealots and non-believers to those who follow their designated religion. This is relates to The Last Temptation, as Nikos Kanzantzakis guides the reader through a detailed portrayal of Christ’s journey to Jerusalem in order to establish his belief in God. Like the main recipients in the Satanic Verses, Christ held a firm decision that God could not exist since his people were being tortured and abused by the Romans.
His belief that it was up to him to survive under the oppression of the Romans and eventually to accumulate a substantial amount of financial security in the market sector of Nazareth would trigger another metamorphosis brought on by the divination of God. Once again, we witness the transmutation of a mortal man who is given incredible abilities by a supernatural force. With his newly acquired powers that produce miracles, Christ began his soul-seeking expedition to find out what faith his people possessed in them as well as himself. Ultimately, his crucification was a symbol for his faith in his religious conviction. As Gibreel and Saladin met their fate in The Satanic Verses (they both perished fighting each other), it seemed to be a sacrifice that would change their society forever. The image of the angel (order) versus the devil (chaos) would definately generate a profound effect on society. As a martyr, Christ was able to exhibit his final, and most faithful, act of devotion to God.
His people witnessed his persecution at the hands of both the government and God, and thus were able to believe in a new order and path for the world (Christianity had earned the fellowship of the oppressed citizens). As I quickly approach adulthood with many regrets for the past and plenty of doubts for the future, my ethical fascination with God increases with my every move. I find myself desperately clinging to a tradition that is incompatible with the laws of today’s society. A tradition that is being challenged and exonerated by many of my fellow religious worshippers. It is with this thought that I am able to fully interpret the works of Rushdie and Kazantzakis. Their elaboration and magnification of social oppresion intertwined with spiritual divination only acts as a shining beacon lost at sea for others to seek out.
Are we all pawns of the economic and political surrondings that we dwell in, or are we religious servants living in the plantation that God has created for us? If both authors believe that we must remain faithful to our religion in order to conform to oppression and ultimately enjoy freedom, peace and solace, does this include exposure to the possible risk of sacrifice or consecration? I believe that such tests and trials can only strengthen an individual’s faith about God, and benefit his own life.