150Re: Satanic Verses
- May 11, 2003<<<<However, it is still this 'good and evil' thing that I am not so
clear about. From what I understand, Gibreel was supposed to
be the evil part of the book and Saladin was the good. Could
someone here explain (with examples from the book) perhaps
how this idea presents itself in the book. What's this 'battle
between good and evil' that everybody is on about.>>>>
Well, it's for good reason that you're not so clear about the
battle of 'good vs. evil' in the Satanic Verses, for Rushdie
mocks that very battle throughout the novel. The lines between
good and evil, sacred and profane, holy and defiled, (lines that
are essential to our big 3 religions) are consciously blurred by
Mr. Rushdie in the Satanic Verses.
In your question, you stated that you understood Gibreel to be the
symbol for evil, and Saladin to be the symbol for good. But
remember the beginning of the book! It is Saladin who, after
falling from the wreckage of flight AI-420, transforms into a devil
and Gibreel who transforms into an angel! Saladin and Gibreel
transform into specific religious images, angel and devil,
images which Rushdie proceeds to throw in our faces. So, like
you said, by the end of the novel the reader finds the devil image
to be `good' and the angel image to be `evil.'
Saladin's satanic transformation was, in large part, an allegory
of "foreignness" both culturally and spiritually, for Saladin
was a man who was not yet "whole." In the end, Saladin's
EVIL image didn't follow the traditional satanic route, for he
transforms Spiritually, Socially, and Culturally, by reconnecting
with his Father, his Country, and his Essence. The angelic
Gibreel on the other hand, our symbol of the sacred and pure
(especially in the public eye), becomes more fragmented,
unwise, and lost.
So at the end of the novel, it is our devil who is the hero while our
angel falls apart. Another reason why this novel is not popular
among the religious community. For Rushdie the battle between
good and evil is EVERY PERSONS' BATTLE, and traditional
good/evil imagery need not apply. Good/Evil is not easily defined.
Human action and motivation is not always easily
compartmentalized into concise judgments of "good" and "evil."
Traditionally "Sacred" or "Holy" or "Good"
things often get edited, misread, misused, and distorted into the
It is my opinion that part of Rushdie's message was Seek not
the definition of good and evil; look instead toward the power of
TRANSFORMATION. It is also my opinion that The Satanic
Verses is 1.) what some spiritual philosophies call `DHARMA'
and 2.) one of the most spiritually significant novels of our time.
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