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Rohiston Mistry – “Squatter” Essay

Imagine leaving your homeland and traveling somewhere far and foreign where you are forced to adopt a new culture, traditions, and live up to the diverse social expectations. You would feel lost, isolated and alone. In the short story “Squatter”, Rohiston Mistry presents details on a character’s struggle to find his identity in a westernized Canada, while explaining the dilemmas he encountered during the time of integration and adoption. Mistry also portrays the influences of Westernization, mainly on the narrator, Nariman.

Nariman had returned to Mumbai India but the influence of Western culture was manifested in his behaviours. Indication of the western consumer society is evident when Nariman “parks his 1932 Mercedes-Benz… outside a block” and calls it “the apple of his eye”. Having a car is a very Western and materialistic concept, very unlike the culture of the Parsi community that resides in Firozshaa Baag. He unconsciously whistles “Rose-Marie” and “The Bride on the River Kwai” which are great Western hits from Broadway and the movies. This is all a result of culture clash within an individual.

Nariman tells the story of Sarosh, a struggling immigrant that feels alienated in a white-dominant environment and is overwhelmed with new social values. This character encounters problems and struggles to adapt to the new nation and find his identity as a full, true, Canadian. Sarosh managed to adopt most of Western culture but he could not go to the bathroom without ‘squatting’. “Sarosh did not give up trying. Each morning he seated himself to push and grunt, grunt and push.” This caused him great anxiety and the complete, unaltered Canadian identity that he longed for was elusive. Thus he uses his failed attempts to use the western toilet as a sign of his Inability to integrate.

When rejected immigrants fail to adapt to western cultures they search desperately to find their former identity in their homeland. Unfortunately this attempt backfires because the individual is so influenced by western culture that he is caught in total displacement from both cultures.

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