“‘your immediate enemy is Abu Ali; and he rode off to Samarkand as soon as you split the beans’” (Langley, 41).
So, third chapter sent off alarms when it introduces the second prince, Rubdub Ben Thud. He was immediately more uncomfortable for me than Tintac Ping Foo.
First, his servant, Small Slave bothered me because, how is that a name? And the fact that he’s so laudatory to an obviously dislikable Prince reminds me too much of the Happy Slave or Sambo trope. Not that that’s what it is, but Small Slave’s sincere belief that Rubdub’s a musical wonder when he’s not, just seems too much like mindless devotion. So, yeah, it makes me uncomfortable.
Second, Rubdub Ben Thud’s name made me cringe. He’s from Arabia and the first image I had when I read his name was a bathtub. Oh, and this nursery rhyme. Which together made me think of men deemed more infantile than other men. Which made me uncomfortable with regard to him being from Arabia. Although, I wonder if the nursery rhyme will actually be important?
Third, the constant references to Rubdub’s fatness, as a means to make him less likable, bothered me. The trouble was that he didn’t have anything else to distinguish him except his body. Which really made him feel like a fatphobic insult. He can’t use cooking oil to boil Abu Ali because they need it for breakfast; when he falls down he’s taller on his back than standing up; and Ping Foo insults him throughout with “Fatty!”(34) and “Football! Football! Football!” (60).
So Rubdub’s weight is a joke and supposed to be a sign of his wickedness. Yeah. That’s not good. Having it be a sign of excess I guess can be okay for a villain, but so far he doesn’t have much else going for him. Maybe his characterization will improve?
On top of the fatphobic language, the repetitive references to Tintac being a fop was questionable, since I thought it was or can be a slur against gays.
So yeah, lots of language and implications I didn’t like.
On a better note, Abu Ali’s name is a fun combination for me. It’s Disney Aladdin’s prince name plus his best friend (or monkey friend)’s name. That’s amusing!
Speaking of Disney, the story’s tone reminds me of the Aladdin TV Series. Names in the story are silly enough for me to feel like there’s some pun or play on words going on. And the Aladdin TV Series is full of unnecessary name puns and play on words, such as,
- Quirkistan, a land that’s prosperity is tied to the ruler’s mood; in particular a very bratty kid
- Getzistan, a Los Vegas type city
- Abis Mal, a bumbling but troublesome villain
- Sootinai, a creature created out of burned powder
- Ayam Aghoul, an undead villain (literally pronounced “I-AM A-GHOUL)
- Pasta al-Dente, sultan of Getzistan
There’s more, trust me. But I think I’ve made my point. That said, it makes me extra curious to see how the story unfolds.
And finally, I’m also curious to see what Abu Ali does. And what Silver Bud’s like, if he’s going to see her.
I’ve edited some for better definitions | source
- fatuous: adj. 1. foolish or inane, especially in an unconscious, complacent manner; silly. 2. unreal; illusory.
- contralto: n.
- pique: v. 1. to affect with sharp irritation and resentment, especially by some wound to pride. 2. to wound (the pride, vanity, etc.). 3. to excite (interest, curiosity, etc.). 4. to arouse an emotion or provoke to action
Langley, Noel. The Land of Green Ginger. Jeffrey, NH: David R. Godine Publisher, 1975. Print.