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Submission

The  further I read into Amy Waldman’s The Submission, the more fitting I found the title.  Not only do the multiple definitions of the word “submission” explained by Charlotte in her presentation apply to the novel in different ways, in addition to the meaning of the word “Islam,” as mentioned by Maria, but the book itself is comprised of one submission after another.

These various submissions occur on a multitude of levels over time, but there is hardly a cessation of submission to be found in any phase of the plot of The Submission. At the novel’s beginning, as I mentioned in class, the reader witnesses an impending submission on the part of certain jury members.  This first surrendering is necessary for the novel to truly commence, and is seen in the character of Ariana and those who support her and The Void.  In the face of Claire’s then-passion for The Garden, those jury members submit. From, then on, all of the characters experience the act of submitting in one way or another.)

Sean submits to the disappointment of his parents, particularly his mother, as he campaigns against Islam for her approval.

A minor, though marked example of submission occurs on page 69, when Paul inevitably submits to his son’s requests for money.

Claire submits to the distrust that surrounds her, pushing in on her.  “Can you live with never knowing the answers to those questions?” (161).

Asma is perpetually submitting to the American government and society as an illegal immigrant. in the aftermath of Sean’s scarf-grabbing stunt, to the violence that erupts around it.  At the end of the novel, she submits to pressure to move herself and her son back to Bangladesh.

There is a multitude of examples of Khan submitting, in a variety of ways.  Of course, he submits his design to the competition for the memorial. He also submits to the expectations of frightened, reactionary Americans, Muslim and non-Muslim, if in different ways.  In a disheartening spirit reminiscent of my prior blog post, Khan actually remains rather strong-willed throughout the majority of the novel until, for example, the end of the novel when he cuts his hair to go to appear in court (213).  Even more specific is a moment which struck me very strongly as a submission — a nearly pitiful relinquishing of pride — when he is searched by security at his own hearing. “Dizzy, Mo felt the beginnings of shock at this indignity on this day” (214).

Even Alyssa is found constantly submitting to the driving need to coax incendiary information out of people, submitting to deadlines, stereotypes, and her work.

 

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