“He picked it up gingerly, as though it would bite. Touching it brought back memories of his mother: how she would say her rosary every night before a statue of the Virgin of Fatima and then read a passage of the Bible before bed. Or maybe she hadn’t. It was getting difficult to separate the imagined from his real memories” (p.166)
“And you can’t know for sure dat what you think you saw dat time was Joseph raping his daugher. Maybe you were confused” (p.188)
The ambiguity and distortion of memory that we saw in Midnight’s Children is again brought up again in Graceland. In Midnight’s Children, Rushdie wrote: “Reality is a question of perspective; the further you get from the past, the more concrete and plausible it seems – but as you approach the present, it inevitably seems more and more incredible” (p.189). To refresh everyone’s memory, Rushdie compared reality in the present day to sitting so close to a movie screen that we do not see the whole picture. However, when looking back on a situation, we see the “big picture”. Abani, on the other hand, discusses how our memories of the past before more distorted as time goes on.
In Graceland, our memory can be influenced in different ways. In the first passage, Elvis’ recollection of his mother seems to be only of her admirable qualities. Because we only have Elvis’ account of his mother, we are in no position to make assumptions that he is lying. However, we also have to remember how memory can be affected. Elvis acknowledges the fact that his memory of his mother is not completely valid. It may be possible that he blocks out particular stories from his memory because he loved his mother so much that he only wanted to remember the best qualities about her. I do not know if this is a legitimate argument of how memory works, but I have found it to be true for my own memories – I always remember the best times of the past and I block out the negative.
When Sunday argues that Elvis’ memory may be distorted, he is either defending his brother, Joseph, or making a point about how witnesses to crimes often can not remember exactly what they saw. Perhaps Elvis’ vision of Joseph raping Efua is the truth, or perhaps he saw Efua being raped by another man and was later convinced by her that the rapist was in fact Joseph. There are often cases where the witness’ memories are inaccurate because they are influenced by other parties.