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      Butler has an uncanny ability to make the reader believe in miracles. He mixes just the right amount of fantasy with a sobering dose of reality to create stories that are powerful and engaging. His characters speak with such authority and certainty that even the most outlandish of Butler’s stories, ” A Ghost Story,” left me questioning reality. In “Relic,” the narrator explains how “a man from Vietnam [came to] own one of John Lennon’s shoes” (137).  We come to understand that though narrator is blessed with the ability to acquire wealth easily, both in Vietnam and in America, he has no sense of purpose.  He left his family in Saigon because he could afford to do so, even though they were afraid of coming to America and remained in Vietnam. He fixates on material objects, attaching meaning to them instead of his familial relationships. He says that his only regret regarding leaving his wife, was not taking something of hers with him; as if one of her scarves could replace her entirely. The narrator expresses that religion is very important to him, though Butler does not show him directly engaging in any Vietnamese religious practices, nor does the he have the narrator describe them.

John Lennon’s shoe becomes the narrator’s religious relic, his most sacred possession. Many of the narrators in Butler’s stories equate power or happiness with wealth and beauty, which is a universal human tendency. The narrator in”Relic” has been wealthy twice, in two different countries, and it seems that he has still not realized that wealth and material objects will not bring him happiness. He believes that when he buys one of Lennon’s left shoes, he will finally find peace, a sense of purpose; that the pair will lead him to the place where he belongs. Butler reveals the narrator’s desperation and loneliness through his obsession with finding another of Lennon’s shoes. He acknowledges, ironically, that even if he finds a left shoe, it won’t be the match to the shoe that he already has. The narrator puts the shoe on and says ” the shoe is large for me, but that’s as it should be,” he is confronting his inability to fit into American culture. It begs the question, who is this man, that he would try to fill even one of John Lennon’s shoes? The narrator has only been successful at being wealthy, but all the money in the world can’t make him a better man.  He still thinks that if he can only find his other ruby slipper, he can click his heels together and go home.

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