The Satanic Verses | Study Guide

Salman Rushdie

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The Satanic Verses | Part 7, Chapter 2 : The Angel Azraeel | Summary

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Summary

Billy Battuta and Mimi Mamoulian, recently returned to London after their arrest in New York, have a party. Both Saladin and Gibreel are guests, and Saladin experiences a sudden surge of anger upon seeing Gibreel. Gibreel, still mentally addled and medicated, asks how Pamela is doing. Saladin tells Gibreel about her relationship with Joshi and the resulting pregnancy. Reacting to this news in his confused state of mind, Gibreel gets the idea that Allie may also be unfaithful with Joshi, and knocks Joshi out.

Gibreel and Allie invite Saladin on a visit to the country. Saladin accepts the invitation, but continues to harbor a murderous intention toward Gibreel. A few weeks later, Gibreel and Saladin meet again, and Gibreel—prone to oversharing due to his condition—talks about the intimate details of his sexual relationship with Allie. Saladin uses these details to take his revenge. He makes several calls to Allie's home, using a different voice each time, and makes obscene remarks about Allie. Three weeks after implementing this plan, Saladin—who has been strategically moving closer to Allie the whole time—gets the result he wants. Allie and Gibreel break up; Gibreel leaves. With an increasingly unstable mind, Gibreel wanders London, at one point buying a trumpet that he names Azraeel.

Analysis

Here, Gibreel and Saladin finally meet after separating at Rosa Diamond's house. The meeting sparks renewed rage in Saladin, who continues to harbor a grudge against Gibreel for failing to help him avoid being taken into custody by law enforcement. This grudge helps to develop the theme of forgiveness: Saladin has not forgiven Gibreel, and he continues to withhold forgiveness even though Gibreel is obviously at the mercy of a terrible illness.

The setting of this meeting is a party given at a London soundstage where a film version of the Dickens novel Our Mutual Friend was just filmed. The various plots of this novel are linked together by a "mutual friend"—John Harmon—who takes on a different identity for much of the book. The allusion to Our Mutual Friend seems to be a self-aware reference to the way both Dickens's novel and Rushdie's novel have interweaving plots tied together by a single person (Harmon and Gibreel). The reference also emphasizes the theme of metamorphosis and rebirth because it is an important theme in both novels.

Azraeel, the name of Gibreel's trumpet, is the name of the angel of death in Islam (usually spelled 'Izrā'īl). Along with the archangel Gibreel (Jibrīl), Azraeel is one of four archangels. Named such and coupled with Gibreel's belief that he is an angel, this purchase heightens the suspense of the story, which is quickly nearing a climax.

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