Salman Rushdie’s East, West is a collection of stories concerning the phenomenon of intercultural exchange between the Eastern Indian lands and the pioneering Western lands of England. What has been so apparent in our studies up to this point is the relation between the post-colonial homelands and the mother nation of England with her many adopted nations. What began as an occupation of English people in foreign lands has evolved into foreigners from those foreign lands migrating to England. From a sociological standpoint, it is clear to see that peripheral nations become increasingly dependent on core nations as time progresses to the point where citizens of the sub-nation must migrate in order to ensure their quality of life. The first half of Rushdie’s book East is largely focused on the Indian homeland after the age of the British Raj. The second part of the book is West and it concerns the English nation as they interact with waves of migrants from different peripheral nations. The final stories in the book are where East and West meet and this meshing of culture is what allows for the story “The Courter”.
The Courter is a story about an English boy being raised by an Indian woman in London. This dynamic is interesting because it is present in every multi-cultural core nation. When well-to-do couples decide to have children, they must also take into consideration their own personal lives and careers and often times the parents find they cannot relinquish these things so easily and must compromise the upbringing of their child through his or her childhood. Enter the nanny: somewhere in her 40s with a heavy foreign accent but with all the motherly traditions from her homeland. In New York city these nannies are black women but in Rushdie’s England these women hail from the East.
It is the interaction between the English child and the Indian mother that allows for such a dramatic juxtaposition of culture. There are cultural barriers as well as language barriers as she continually mispronounces his name and fails at several junctions to connect with the boy. Yet this is of little importance as the role of mother uses a universal language. While the two may never see eye-to-eye culturally, they share a bond that can only be formed between a caretaker and the taken care of. It is beautiful to witness the love without words and Rushdie portrays it several times in his collection of stories from East to West.