Religion and morality, considered as two inseparable entities, are central preoccupations in literature. The two are viable tools in exploring the concerns of many writers including John Updike and Salman Rushdie. The research examines religion and morality in two short stories – John Updike’s ‘A&P’ and Salman Rushdie’s ‘The Prophet’s Hair’. The study adopts formalism, a theory that examines ‘form’ as related to the autonomy and aesthetics of an art work. The analysis of the two short stories revealed that the stories are preoccupied with morality and religion. Updike’s concern is with Christianity while Rushdie focuses on Islam. Updike explores the idea that what is morally justifiable to one person may be morally unjustifiable to another while Rushdie treats the question of morality in the theme of retributive justice. John Updike and Salman Rushdie are radical writers who deploy religion to examine hypocrisy and retribution respectively.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1.1 Statement of Research Problem2
1.2 Purpose of the Study3
1.3 Scope and Limitation4
1.6 Authors’ Background5
1.7 Literature Review18
2.0 John Updike’s ‘A&P’27
2.1 The Plot of ‘A&P’28
2.2 Thematic Preoccupation in ‘A&P’29
2.3 The Setting of ‘A&P’33
2.4 Characterization in ‘A&P”34
2.5 Language and Style of ‘A&P’39
3.0 Salman Rushdie’s ‘The Prophet’s Hair’ – Plot 42
3.1 Thematic Preoccupation in ‘The Prophet’s Hair’43
3.2 The Setting of ‘The Prophet’s Hair’48
3.3 Characterization in ‘The Prophet’s Hair’49
3.4 Language and Style of ‘The Prophet’s Hair’ 53
4.0 A Comparative Study of John Updike’s ‘A&P’ and Salman Rushdie’s ‘The Prophet’s Hair’.58
4.1 Findings 65
4.3 Conclusion 66
5.0 Recommendations 67
5.1 Bibliography 68
Religion has always been concerned with morality. Indeed, the Ten Commandments are moral commandments. Much of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ are concerned with the standards of conduct by which men ought to live. At the very core of religion is the message that man must live according to the moral standards of God in order to achieve ultimate salvation.
Early philosophers, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, among them, were concerned with religion and morality. The earliest dramas of medieval Europe and England were miracle and morality plays.
Khalid Latif (2008) believes that Islam is a comprehensive way of life, and morality is one of the cornerstones of Islam. Morality is one of the fundamental sources of a nation’s strength, just as immorality is one of the main causes of a nation’s decline. Islam has established some universal fundamental rights for humanity as a whole, which are to be observed in all circumstances. To uphold these rights, Islam has provided not only legal safeguards, but also a very effective moral system. Thus, in Islam, whatever leads to the welfare of the individual or the society and does not oppose any maxims of the religion is morally good, and whatever is harmful is morally bad.
John Updike and Salman Rushdie, whose short stories have been selected for this study, are concerned with morality. The society in John Updike’s ‘A&P’ is presented as a religious one that believes in morality and associates certain values with some moral standards. However, the writer uses the major character in the story, Sammy, a teenage boy, to protest against the belief held by the entire A&P society represented by Lengel, the manager of the supermarket and his ‘sheep’.
In the same vein, Salman Rushdie’s ‘The Prophet’s’ Hair examines the question of religion and morality and the writer uses the characters in the story to establish the theme of retributive justice for good or evil.
Religion and morality will be examined in the two short stories and the formalist theory will be adopted in the study.
Subscribe to access this work and thousands more