With a First-hand Knowledge of the Country: Meatless Days

Margaret Hander'00 English 27, 1997

Suleri treats America uniquely because she lives there part-time. Though she resides there as she finishes her book, she does not feel she belongs to it, or it to her. "Rain in America has never felt to me like a condition of glad necessity, and Tom and I will never know the conversations we might have had on something like the twelfth of August in Lahore," she explains wistfully (38). It keeps her stagnant, cut off from her real life. While her mother died, she was "sitting in the American Midwest" (43). She refers to her move to America as "my American retreat" (103), refers to herself as "away in America" (125). After her sister's death, "I returned to America conscious of my vanity, the gay pretense with which I had believed that I could take a respite from my life" (127).

By choosing to permanently relocate to America, she has betrayed her father, she feels, "our adulthood would often seem to him betrayal's synonym" (141). She often feels that in America she has lost her "sense of place." "For a while it felt quite true, so that during my sojourn in the American Midwest the vast strangeness of the place to me was humanized by such a presence as Dale's face, just as in my first horror at the unmitigated prettiness of Williamstown I could turn to the grayness of Anita's eyes" (181). Her book ends with her despondency in exile. She hopes some definition will rise from the tangle of her life which she compares to a body with broken bones. Her final sentence reveals a weary desire to let go of her weakened self, "I join its buoyancy and hide my head as though it were an infant's cranium still unknit, complicit in an Adam's way of claiming, in me, disembodiment" (186).

Pakistan OV Sara Suleri Meatless Days

Last Modified: 18 March, 2002