Showing posts with label Indian Literature. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Indian Literature. Show all posts

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Anita Desai's 'Where Shall We Go This Summer?' : Summary and Analysis

Anita Desai's Where Shall We Go This Summer? decribes the cruelty and callousness of urban life. It marks a return to the autonomous world of inner reality. When Sita is with child again she panicks at the thought of bringing a new. , She runs away to a small island to avoid the harsh reality. Her sudden capitulation comes as an anti-climax. Sita, a sensitive, emotional and middle-aged woman feels alienated from her husband and children. She undergoes acute mental agonies. She silently- suffers in isolation because of her sharp existentialist sensibility and explosive emotionality. The novel is a pointer to her angst and ennui of her anguished soul. Her character consists in her inwardness, introversion and the resultant psychic odyssey. Sita tries to visualise the world of her dreams. But ultimately she intensifies her desire to recapture the experience and excitement in her. Therefore, she comes to a dilemma to decide as to where she should go that summer.

Sita in Where Shall We Go this Summer ? is over forty. She hangs between married life and her self-fulfilment. While she is awaiting the birth of her fifth qhild, her experiences of a house wife and mother as well accumulate in her deep anguish. She feels no genuine happiness in her marital context. Her hopelessness rises and makes her insensitive, cruel and alien to her husband and children. Her insanity drives her back to preserve the sense of sanity by escaping from her routine life in a Bombay apartment to rush to Manori, an Island in the West-coast. Her immature longing torments her. Her bondage to Raman and children creates conditions those are responsible for the misfortunes. She is termed mad and she is enitrely out of the common cord of life. In plain words she tells her husband: "What I am doing is trying to escape from the madness here, escape to a place where it might be possible to be sane again...,

Sita loses her grip on life and develops in mind uncertain and unrealistic attitude towards life. Though she rebels against the birth of the fifth child, she has certain longing in her heart which she misses entirely. She wants to protect her unborn child against the cruel atmosphere in which she is living. In a freak of madness she aims at abortion and flies to the Island:

In order to achieve the miracle of not giving birth. Wasn't this Manori, the Island of miracles? Her father had made it an Island of magic once, worked miracles of a kind. She has grown tired of the life of dullness and disappointment of her family. She, therefore, wants to seek her childhood as a place of her happiness again. This Island may provide her a refugee camp safe from her family life, away from the humdrum life of Bombay. By going there she tries to connect the changes, distortions and revelations between the present and the past in her middle age. Her longings or lust for the miracles associate her vision and she finds no answers to her deep anguish rather, she finds herself like a jelly fish stranded on the sand-bar slowly suffocating and unable to survive on the sands of life. For a change in her present existence she desires shelter in the Island: She saw that Island illusion us a refuge, a protection. It would hold her baby safely unborn, my magic. Then there would be the seal, it would wash the frenzy out of her, drown it. Perhaps, the tides would lull the children too, into smother, softer beings.

The betrayals, treacheries, confusions and compromises lead her into intense suffering. Though the Island holds no magic now for her, the illusion tramples upon her. The companionship is now a myth of her motherhood. She attempts for a futile search for some purpose in life. Her anxiety, concern and
pessimism produce emotional outbursts and she undergoes a search for an escape to be alive to her sensitivity. Her arrival at Manori has given her a new life, a new awareness, a new consciousness. She now realizes "what a farce marriage was, all human relationship.

Sita visualizes the world of her dreams and once again she intensifies her desire to recapture an experience, an excitement and an innocence. Her instant decision as to where she would go that summer, and her decision to go back to the Island of Manori after twenty years in her journey in quest for her lost innocence. Not only Sita is longing in her heart to go to the Island but the Islanders are also waiting for twenty years looking for something. She is disappointed with them and they feel equally disappointed with her. There are impossible expectations on both sides.

The misunderstanding between Raman and Sita results into marital discord but Sita as an ideal wife tries to idealize the relationship between a husband and wife. She feels that a life of complete inwardness and subjective approach is not the way to make one's life happier. Though she has begun to drift away mentally, she indulges sometimes in introspection and sometimes in retrospection of her unhappy married life. She is, disgusted with her life and her alienation is inherent in her relationship with her father. Naturally she is unable to maintain conformity with the established norms of society. Though she tries to encounter it effectively, but she misses to communicate her reaction^ against every incident. Thus, she is left like a stranger longing for the life of that primitive world.

We see her trying to adjust in the house of her husband's parents after marriage. There she feels like a square peg in a round hole. The sub-human atmosphere in the house makes her inward looking and places her in a suffocating existence. She fails to adopt herself to society. She moves in a small flat and lives alone with her husband and children. Her life there is hardly better, her privacy is disturbed, she finds her existence at stake, she struggles with the monotony of life. The novelist beautifully describes this monotonous moments of Sita as follows : ... and could not begin to comprehend her boredom. She herself looking on it, saw it stretched out so vast, so flat, so deep, that in fright she scrambled about it, searchingJbr av few of these moments that proclaimed her still alive, not quite drowned and dead

The agonies and the chain of unhappy incidents in Sita's life makes her a strong character to refuse the dictates of society. It adds to the dimension of her existential character. She does not work on social principles but she desires to live like a saint, a magician and as the original inhabitants of Manori with Moses and Meriam. When Raman comes to take Menaka for admission to the Medical College, his arrival gives Sita some sort of satisfaction but at the same time she comes to realise once again the cold actualities of life. Though it is not a positive solution of her problem, yet she looks within herself and a sense of cowardish approach and escapism overpowers her. She feels that she had escaped from duties and responsibilities, from order and routine, from life and the city, to the unlivable island, she had refused to give birth to a child in a world not fit to receive the child. She had the imagination to offer it an alternative a life unlived, a life butchered. Sbe had cried out her great "No"" but now the time had come for her epitaph to be written.

Thus, we find that her withdrawal is indicative of a need for love, the free and unquestioning love. This kind of love transcends the self and makes no claims. It is this kind of relationship which she wants from Raman but she does not achieve the goal in her life. When Raman comes she wants to lay down her head and weep "My father's dead look after me". But she is told that he has come not for her but or children. At this stage also she has to accept the fact that she is a woman unloved.

Emotion, instinct, feeling, reason occupy the central theme of all the novels of Anita Desai. The mystery remains unsolved. Sita comes from her maimed or incomplete family. Her mother has run away from her home leaving the children to the care of their father. She confeses her longing in life. She is an orphan either factually or emotionally.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

'The Bus' by Arun Kolatkar: Summary and Analysis

'The Bus' by Arun Kolatkar is the opening poem of the thirty-one section of his collection of poems 'Jejuri.' It describes the bumpy journey from the starting point to its destination which is the temple of Khandoba. It is a State Transfort bus the windows of which are screened by the tarpaulin with which the bus has been covred to keep the possible rainfall , and also to keep off the cold wind which keeps blowing throughout the journey. It is a night journey which the bus has undertaken ; and after several hours of the arduous journey the passengers start waiting eagerly for daybreak. 

The bus is full of the pilgrims who are bound for the temple of Khandoba where they want to offer worship; and the passengers might have included a few tourists who merely want to satisfy their curiosity about what kind of a temple it is and in what surroundings the temple stands. One of the passengers sits opposite an old man wearing glasses; and this passenger , while looking at the old man, sees his reflection in both the glasses of the spectacles which the old man is wearing. This passenger can feel the onward movement of the bus. The old man wears on his forehead a mark indicating his Hindu faith and even the high caste to which he belongs. Among the passengers is the protagonist or the persona who speaks in the poem, describing his experiences and his reactions to what he sees at Jejuri. 

In due course, the sun appears on the horizon , and quietly moves upwards in the sky. The sun's rays, filtering through the gaps in the tarpaulin , fall upon the old man's glasses. Then a ray of the sun falls upon the bus-driver's night cheek. The bus seems to have changed its direction. It has been un uncomfortable journey; but, when the destination is reached , the passengers get down from the bus which had held them tightly in its grip.       


The Bus is a purely descriptive  poem which does not give us much of information about the purpose of the journey, apart from telling us that it is going to Jejuri and that it is a night journey , with a cold wind blowing all the way. There are a few humorous touches in this poem as, for instance, the protagonist finding two reflections of himself in the two glasses of the spectacles which the old man sitting opposite him is wearing. We also learn that it is a bumpy ride at the end of which the passengers get off the bus without anybody stepping inside the old man's head;and this is another touch of humour. 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Anita Desai's Art and Narrative Technique in her Novel 'Clear Light of the Day'

Anita Desai employs a narrative technique in her Clear Light of Day that has a similarity with the narrative techniques employed by R.K. Narayan in The Guide and Amitav Ghosh in The Shadow Line. Like these two great Indian novelists, Anita Desai also makes memory and flashback as the main narrative strategies in her novel  Clear Light of Day. This is a novel about memory: about places and people who go through change and transformation in an attempt to find their true identities. B. R. Rao has said that ‘Each novel of Mrs Desai is a masterpiece of technical skill’. In Clear Light of Day Desai portrays her characters through various uses of symbols and images, and the language is often very poetic. Desai’s protagonists ‘associate their emotions and feelings with the buds, flower [sic.], petals, birds, animals and insects around them.

At the very beginning of Clear Light of Day we see that already on the first two pages we are given the images of singing koels, of ants, of a rose garden, of a snail. All images that bring Tara right back to her childhood and to bitter sweet memories. By making use of flashbacks and stream of consciousness Desai ‘steers her story and unravels the hidden thoughts and feelings and emotions of her characters’.

Desai’s novels are known to be well organized, and Clear Light of Day is no exception. Desai’s novels are usually divided into either three or four parts, and Clear Light of Day is divided into four unnamed parts. The division often conveys symbolism and meaning. Desai takes liberties with chronology and ‘there is a constant intermingling of the past and present with a hint of the foreboding future’ in the novel . The first chapter deals with the present time, and we are introduced to the characters as they are now. The two sisters are re-united after some years apart. Tara, who is married to a diplomat, is back in India to attend their brother’s daughter’s marriage in Hyderabad. Tara’s first stop on her journey however, is in Old Delhi to visit Bim in their childhood home. The second and third chapters deal with the memories of the past, and through Bim and Tara we are taken back to the years around the partition. The relationships among the siblings are described here, as well as their relationship to their parents and their aunt. The political situation in India before, during, and after the partition can be traced through the characters and their different experiences. The third chapter also reveals the ‘predicament of aunt Mira’ through a series of events .

In the fourth and last chapter the characters find themselves in the present again, but now with a profound realisation which they lacked in the first chapter. Bim, who has struggled with anger and bitterness, now realises that she has to make peace with herself and the ghosts from her past in order to live a full and meaningful life.  
By shifting between present and past time, between what happens between Bim and Tara ‘now’ versus past memories, moments of importance are revealed slowly. From the very beginning we sense that the tone between Bim and Tara is a bit tense. Bim is at times ironic and sarcastic towards her sister, and Tara’s experience is that ‘the elder sister did not take the younger seriously’ . We also hear of Raja, and his closeness to Bim as a child, and that this changed as they grew up. At times it is as if she longs for him: ‘“I and Raja,” Bim mused, continuing to look up at the sky […] “I and Raja” she said, “I and Raja”’ (25). By giving the reader these glimpses of almost forgotten feelings Desai reveals that there is something lurking below the surface. We learn about Bim from Tara, and about Tara from Bim.The sisters themselves must work in order to understand why the other sister acts and feels as she does. Early on for instance, we see how Tara is shocked by Bim’s negative attitude towards Raja:

The feeling of bitterness, anxiety, uncertainty, and chaos can be traced from the very beginning of the novel through the conversatitions between the two sisters, and it creates a gradually increasing tension in the novel. The world is shown as a place that can be confusing, exciting, and dangerous. It is in constant change, both in the neighbourhood of Old Delhi, and in the rest of the country. The children of the Das family grew up in a time of political unrest and uncertainty. Their parents failed to create a safe and stable home for them, and this failure haunts the characters as grown-ups. Tara, for instance, suffers as a child, and feels unsafe and unprotected. As a result she wants a husband who can protect her and take care of her, and give her the stability her parents never gave her. Bim, on the other hand, is left to manage on her own. She lives in clutter and dust, and as a result her life becomes overshadowed by all the things she holds on to. To Tara’s surprise Bim still has everything that their parents owned: ‘Had she developed no taste of her own, no likings that made herwish to sweep the old house of all its rubbish and place in it things of her own choice?’.

Desai has said that her novels are a ‘private effort to seize upon the raw material of life its shapelessness, meaninglessness, the lack of design that drives one to despair’ . Life can be complicated and lack structure, and this is shown through the characters in Clear Light of Day. Both for herself, for the readers, and for her characters, structure is needed in order to create balance between the organized and unorganized. It is easier to see the meaning of life, and to see things in a clear perspective, through the structure.

Desai uses imagery and symbolism as a way of creating order in her novels. She often links her characters to something in nature or in history to give an indication to where the novel is heading. She is also careful to choose names that can give the readers a clue as to what will happen. This can be seen for instance in Fire on the Mountain (1977). The greatgranddaughter of Nanda Kaul is named Raka, which means the moon . More specifically, the name means moon at full glory. The full moon often symbolizes that something dangerous or frightening will happen. In one episode the moon looks like it is on fire so much so that Raka thinks she is seeing a real fire, no coincidence since the novel ends with a huge fire in the mountains, started by Raka. This way of using names in order to structure and order her novels can also be seen in Clear Light of Day. The meaning of some of the characters’ names immediately gives a clue to what will happen in the novel, and helps link their lives together. The name of the Muslim neighbour of the Das family, Hyder Ali, is also the name of a Muslim ruler and commander who lived in the 18th century. Hyder Ali lived from 1722-1782, and was the ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore in southern India. The use of his name brings memories of a time when the Moghul Empire ruled India, and when Islamic culture flourished. The fictional character of Hyder Ali is presented as a great man on a white horse, who is culturally superior to his Hindu neighbours. Before he flees Delhi for Hyderabad he symbolises the days when India still managed to preserve some of the magic from the Islamic cultural heritage.

Raja is Bim and Tara’s brother. Within Islam Raja means king. Raja has always admired Hyder Ali, and the two manage to become friends despite all their differences. It is no surprise to the reader that Raja married Hyder Ali’s daughter. In a way it had to happen; the leader needed an heir, and the future king needed an ‘empire’: ‘there was something gently loving in his gesture of placing his arm across the boy’s shoulders as he came up, somehow making Raja think that Hyder Ali had no son, only a daughter – a curious thought, never spoken of, yet clearly felt’ . His name is also representative of how Raja wants to be perceived by those around him. Raja says that when he grows up he wants to be a hero. One way of achieving this is by destroying his parents’ bridge cards; ‘Raja used to swear that one day he would leap up onto the table in a lion-mask, brandishing a torch, and set fire to this paper world of theirs’. It is interesting that he wants to wear a lion’s mask since the lion is often considered to be the ‘king of the jungle’. This might be an indication of how Raja wants his sisters to see him. As he later on takes on a new role in the family as a landlord he has in one way become their king. He has the power in his hands to control the destiny of Bim and Baba as they are materially dependent on him to be able to keep their house.

The name of Bim can also be said to give us an idea of what will happen. Bimla means ‘untouched’, and is a good description of how Bim ends up living her life. She will let no man decide how she is to lead her life, and ends up not marrying at all. Baba is the youngest son in the Das family, and the meaning of his name is ‘father’ or ‘elder’, and can be a fairly neutral term. But just like the father of the children was never there mentally, only physically, Baba, because of his mental handicap, is always there physically but not mentally. Though his name ironically means father Baba will always be the baby of the family, and he will always need mothering from Bim. Tara means ‘star’. As the wife of a diplomat she struggles to always shine in front of him, and to be a good wife and mother. She struggles to be perfect, like a shining star.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Main Themes of Anita Desai's 'Where shall we Go This Summer?'

Anita Desai's 'Where shall we Go This Summer?' portrays the emotional and temperamental chasm between the pairs of lovers in the novel- Sita and Raman. The natural flow of affection between the lovers, is very often intact but more frequently it is blocked due to misunderstanding, lack of adequate forbearance and patience. The central theme in the novel is Sita's repugnance and disgust at the thought of the birth of her fifth child. She is an experienced keen eyed mature mother. She knows the joy of motherhood and is comparatively contented. But she is emotionally hurt in the recent years; her shock comes from modern town culture. The strain involved in the earlier childbirths was not felt but being hurt in several ways this time she is not prepared for the delivery of the child. She is afraid that different nurses and doctors will offer indignity to her person. The process of hospitalization and the details of the procreative procedure are repugnant even in their mental picturing to Sita. Therefore she seeks to escape from this predicament. The theme of this novel is a very complex one but very delicately handled by the novelist.

Sita is of course affectionate to her husband, she has a deep concern for his problems, but she has an unquiet mind. Unable to compromise with her husband. She leaves for the Island Manor!. Once she leaves her husband she feels very sorry for having abandoned him. She thinks he will suffer without being able to look after their children properly. To quote her agonised speech:"His boys at home must have worried him, while he was at work in the factory which was not without its problems either. He looked worn much older than his years. Nor could he stay here resting as she was doing. But Sita is often despondent and unhappy and fails to satisfy her husband by a show of natural affections, and emotional and affectionate reassurances, so frequently needed to make life pleasant, she regards the assurance as false. "It simply did not exist for her and should not make it exist. So she did not speak any words of love or reassurance to him.

Free flow of love and sympathy may make marital life heavenly but Anita Desai's ladies being born with higher sensibility fail to provide them. This is the kind of emotional inadequacy existing between pairs of lovers in her books. There is no deliberate attempted element in their discord. The discords are the results of temperamental differences and there is an unconscious quality about them. Thematically Anita Desai makes a minute study of the undercurrent feelings between the husband and wife. Thus the husband is irritated by Sita's exaggerated concern about the welfare of the helpless eagle being attacked by crows. He rejoices in Sita's discomfiture at the outcome of the incident. "They've made a good job of your eagle", (said her husband comjng out with her morning cup of tea. "Look at the feathers sticking out of that crow's beak, He laughted".

Because of this standing difference between the two Sita does not open her heart to her husband and maintains a certain reserve, which is the inherent seed of permanent discord of a subtle and minor type between the two.In circumstances, she desirous of complete surrender to her husband, on his visit to Manori keeps back her feelings. "She felt so weak, she wanted to lay down her head and weep, "My father's dead-look after me". She cleared her throat. 

"All right, she said hoarsely...". I "he natural flow of affections and necessity of affections is thus retarded. The deep psychological insight of human nature that Anita Desai possesses reminds one of the tradition of George Eliot. The novelist brings out this point all through the book and frequently refers to Sita's "Wanting and not being given. What she wanted" and refers to her face. "It was the face of a woman unloved a woman rejected”. The theme of needs, of love rejected or not understood characterises most of her novels.

An Analysis of the Character of Sita in Anita Desai’s 'Where shall We Go This Summer?'

Sita is the female protagonist of Desai’s Where shall We Go This Summer? The story is essentially a study of the marital discord resulting from the conflict between two irreconcilable temperaments and two diametrically different view points represented by Sita and her husband Raman. Sita is a sensitive, emotional middle aged woman saddled with four children. She feels alienated from her husband and children and undergoes acute mental agonies silently in isolation solely because of her sharp existentialist sensibility and explosive emotionality. Though she is placed in comfortable circumstances. She feels utterly lonely at heart where ever she was, with her husband and his family or away from him. The very interrogative title of this novel Where shall We Co This Summer? is a pointer to the very angst and ennui of her anguished soul. Sita, is a highly introverted character and the very appeal of her character consists in her inwardness, introversion and the resultant psychic odyssey.

Disgusted with the sweaty hustle and bustle of humdrum life and tortured by the 'Paranoic' fear of her fifth undesired pregnancy and imminent parturition, Sita along with her tw children Menaka and Karan, leaves behind her husband in despair, runs away from Bombay and comes to Manori to achieve the miracle of not giving birth to her child. This is actually ascribable to her deep seated reverence for libe, and to her unwillingness to accept violence. Moses the caretaker of the house takes them across the sea to the island house built by Sita's father. She discovers the house deserted for over twenty years. She feels highly disappointed to find her father's house in a sorry state.

Sita's alienation from her husband is inherent in her relationship with her mysterious father. Temperamentally they are poles apart. This temperamental schism between them is in fact nowhere more effectively communicated han in the little scene where they talk about the stranger they encountered on their way back from Ajanta and Ellora. "He seemed so brave", she blurted when Raman asked her why she had once more brought up the subject of the high-hiking foreigner, months later. "Brave? Him?, Raman was honest amused. He was a fool - he didn't even know which side of the road to wait on. "Perhaps that was only innocence". Sita faltered, "and it made him seem more brave not knowing anything but going on nevertheless".

Sita's unconscious recognition of the irrationality of the stranger is illustrative of her own longing for a life of primitive reality as well as her alienation from her husband. After her marriage, Sita begins to live in the house of her husband's parents, she feels like a square peg in a round hole. She finds everyone disgusting and family life insufferable. They are incapable of introspection and have no inwardness and capacity for self examination which are the signs of an authentic existence. To challenge them, to shatter their complacency, and to shock them into a recognition of the reality, Sita behaves provocatively -she starts smoking and begins "to speak in sudden rushes of emotion, as though flinging darts at their smooth, unscarred faces". Sita also alienates herself from society. The ayahs, cooks the nameless and forceless multitudes appear to her to be animals. She finds the majority of people living like animals. She says “They are nothing - nothing but appetitite and sex. Only food, sex and money matter, Animals. My pet animals - or wild animals in the forest, yes. But these are neither - they are like pariahs you see in the streets, hanging about drains and dustbins, waiting to pounce and kill and eat”.

Later on, Sita moves to a small flat where she lives alone with her husband and children. But even then she thinks the same way for the practical and matter-of-fact, people continue to intrude upon her privacy. She finds them absolutely unacceptable, and 'their vegetarian complacency and 'stolidity 'not only infuriate but also humiliate her'. "She took their insularity and complacence as well as the aggression and violence of others as affronts upon her own living nerves". The greatest threat to Sita's existence is boredom. Her husband engrossed in his business and the children were growing independent, she finds herself struggling in the grip of the monstor boredom. But tragically enough, her husband fails to comprehend how or why or with what she gets bored. Desai beautifully brings out Sita's boredom, "She herself looking on it saw it stretched out so vast, so flat, so deep, that in fright she scrambled about it, searching for a few of these moments that proclaimed" her still alive, not quite drowned and dead.

Sita's life tormented by loneliness and boredom represents modern married woman's existentialist predicament to which others offer no solutions but Anita Desai offers a positive one in this novel. The agony and unhappiness in sita's soul spring from her inability to flow with the general current of society. She uncompromisingly makes a strong stand and refuses to accept the cruel dictates of society to which the average people submit so uncomplainingly. Her anguished soul cries out. "He who refuses does not repeat should he be asked again. He would say No a gain .and yet that NO - the right No. crushes him for the rest of his life".

The conflict between Sita and her uninvolved children is brought to focus in the concluding part of the novel. Menaka and Karan both fail to adjust to the primitive life on Manori. They long to return to the highly sophisticated urban life in Bombay to which they are used. The sharp conflict between Sita and Menaka is depicted in the scene in which the former discusses with the latter about the poverty of science and opulence of art. Sita says, "Science can't be as satisfactory. It is all - all figures statistics, logic. Science is beliving that two and two make four-pooh" And a little later continuing her argument, she says, "It leads you to a dead one. There are no dead ends, now in Art. That is something spontaneous, Menaka, and alive and creative..." But Menaka dismisses the argument saying, that is all nonsense" This temperamental conflict between mother and daughter also remains unresolved in the novel.

On Menaka's invitation, Raman comes to Manor! to take Menaka and Karan back to Bombay. Menaka wants to apply for admission to the medical college. The children are excited to see their father. So Sita feels 'That they were being disloyal to her, disloyal to the island and its wild nature". After his arrival and through her reluctant conversation with him she cannot escape from the cold actualities of life. She feels she was a coward, an escapist. She had escaped from duties and responsibilities from order and routine, from life and the city to as unlivable island. She has refused to give birth to a child in a world not fit to receive the child. She had the imagination to offer it an alternative - a life unlived, a life bewitched, She had cried out her great "No, But now the time had come from her epitaph to be written". Sita intensely realizes that life must flow on, and she must have courage as Raman has, to flow on with life. She admits to herself what Raman has felt:

“Life must be continued, and all its business - Menaka's admission to medical college gained, wife led to hospital, new child safely brought forth, the children reared, the factory seen to, a salary earned, a salary spent... alienation is due to the humedrum life. She is forced to live with Sita’s husband and children in the busy city like Bombay. The ending of the novel is positive. It is highly encouraging and life enchancing. Sita neither kills anyone nor commits suicide nor dies nor goes mad. She compromises with sita and becomes courageous enough to face life boldly with its ups and downs to take the rough with the smooth by connecting the inward with the outward, the prose with the passion, the individual with society.

Thus we see how the stress and strains of a family life affects Desai's protagonist sita who initially feels a sense of alienation, but finally resigns herself to accepting reality.

An Evaluation of Anita Desai as a Novelist

Among the Indian writers who try their pen in English, Anita Desai stands apart.Anita Desai was born in Mussorie on 24th June 1937, to a Bengali father and German mother.

Anita Desai began writing fiction at the age of seven and published small pieces in children's magazines. She was eduated at Queen Mary's school first and at Miranda house, later at Delhi university, where she took her B.A. Degree in English literature in 1957.

Anita Desai got married to Ashwin Desai, she has four children. She has been living in various cities, Calcutta, Bombay, Chandigarh, Delhi and Poona. The life of people in these cities finds expression in her novels. Anita Desai wrote her first novel Cry The Peacock in (1963) which was considered by the literary world to be a poetic piece of great lyric quality. Her other novels Voices in the City (1965) Bye Bye Blackbird (1971) Where Shall we go this summer?

Anita Desai is one of the few gifted Indian fiction writers in English today. She finds place in book-review, journals, interviews and seminars. In critical literature on Indian writing in English Anita Desai is seldom obliterated. It is a humble venture to analyse flashback, diary-entries, self-analysis, reminations, rumbling of dialogues and descriptions of -places and people, etc. Looking inward in her characters, Anita Desai also explores the intricate facts of human experience bearing upon the central experience of psychic tensions of characters. The further chapters aim to study, analyse and focus attention on her quest for self, delineation of inner crisis and encounter with nothingness.

Anita Desai is a minstrel of the human heart, an artist shaping the contours of his inner world. She is concerned exclusively with the personal tragedy of individuals. Hardly interested in social conditions, political events and the mundane habital of the characters; she explores the interior layers of her character's mind and brings to the surface, by the suppression of nonessentials, various shades of human psyche. She brushes aside unimportant things on the part of the individual and gives us fleeting thoughts with razorlike sharp awareness of the futility of individual's existence. Thus, most of her characters are overcast by shadows and half-shadows, half-revealed and halfconcealed.

Anita's chief concern is human relationship. Her central theme is the existential predicament of an individual which she projects through incompatible couples, very sensitive wives and ill-matched husbands. Anita Desai is a mute observer perceiving everything minutely and delicately. Whenever she creates a typical situation she gives it a perfect poetic treatment to every details. Though her characters are self-conscious of the realitve around them, they carry with them a sense of loneliness, alienation and pessimism. She deals with the dislocation of normal life, recklessness of behaviour and morbidity of temperament, maladjustments in family life of contradictions.

Anita Desai dives deeply, darkly and silently; she tries to work out the inconsistencies and dichotomies of the virgin territories of modern life-style. She adds a new dimension turning inward into the realities of life and plunges into the deep-depths of the human psyche to score out its mysteries, turmoil and chaos inside the mind of her characters. It is imperative on our part to discuss her techniques of articulating such experiences of inner and outer realities. It seems that the, imagination of the novelist is horrified by emptiness of modern life, a sense of insecurity surrounds the milieu of her fiction as is the case with Saul Bellow's or Margaret Atwood's. Since she spotlights the complexities of human nature, distortion of personality and an infinite variety of individuals, we have to search out reality of life in such individuals.

As she stands influenced by Virginia Woolf, D.H. Lawrence fend Faulkner, we have to discover the theories of art propounded by these writers and also by Anita Desai in the light of her characters in her novels Cry, The Peacock and Where Shall We Go This Summer We also find in her writing an effort to discover, underline and convey the significance of things through imagery and symbols. Sometimes, she completes and sometimes she incompletes which she perceives. For truth and reality, the inner life and the outer life of the individual is anticipated in this chapter. Reference to this aspect of the novelist will be made in the light of the works of Dostoevsky, Hendry James and Proust. It is because of the fact that artist like Anita Desai knows to select from the vast amount of material and presents it significantly as if she has the psycho-analytical approach to the problems of modern life. With the help of flashback technique and interior monologues Anita Desai captures the inner qualities of life in her fiction. Thus, a more interesting technique covering a large area is a subject matter of discussion.

Being a woman novelist she sides more intensely with the heroines of her novels, yet very honestly she studies the heroes too. She does not associate with any feminist movement as she makes it clear that her concern as an artist is with individual men and women. But she is chiefly interested in exploration of psychic depths of her characters.

Most of whom react against the absurdity of life or the existentialist problems. She concentrates on characters rather than social milieu. She never creates common characters but the gives extremity of despair to her characters who are basically existentialists. Symbolism is a device to give meaning and relevance to a work of art. It is associated with certain objects to symbolize incidents, characters, words and expression. Anita Desai is very much liberal in the use of symbols. She does so either consciously or unconsciously. In this way her use of symbols beautifies the narration of stories and provides life to the situation of character. And in few cases it compensates for other deficiencies in conversations.

Anita Desai is more interested in the interior landscape of the mind than in social and political realities. In her fiction there is an effort to discover and then to underline and finally to convey the significant ones. Her protagonists are persons for whom aloneness alone is the treasure. Most of them are woman characters. They are all fragile introverts. As Meenakshi points out, Anita Desai is a rare example of an Indo-Anglian writer who achieves that difficult task of bending the English language to her purpose without either a self conscious attempt of sounding Indian or seeking the anonymous elegance of public school English, . She deals with humanistic themes. The theme that is dealt with by Anita Desai is search for values. Anita Desai's treatment of the emotional life of the characters ranks her among the foremost humanistic writers of the modern age.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

'The Freaks' by Kamala Das: Summary and Analysis

The Freaks by Kamala Das

He talks, turning a sun-stained
Cheek to me, his mouth, a dark
Cavern, where stalactites of
Uneven teeth gleam, his right
Hand on my knee, while our minds
Are willed to race towards love;
But they only wander, tripping
Idly over puddles of
Desire……. Can this man with
Nimble finger-tips unleash
Nothing more alive than the
Skin’s lazy hungers? Who can
Help us who has live so long
And have failed in love? The heart,
An empty cistern, waiting
Through long hours, fills itself
With coiling snakes of silence……..
I am freak.  It’s only
To save my face, I flaunt, at
Times, a grand, flamboyant lust.


'The Freaks', a short lyric written in the confessional manner, is written in the first person point of view. The poem gives expression to a the speaker's (the poetess) feelings as she lies in bed with her husband, when both of them are waiting for the commencement of their physical intimacy. Though they are waiting for their physcial union, the female partner is a bit disgusted and scared. She finds her husband to be rather slow in moving his fingers over her body in order to enjoy the sensation of his contact with her. 

The poetess thinks that her partner is not passionate enough or not skilful enough to be able to arouse in her a really intense desire for sexual union. She then realizes that her marriage with this man had failed and that , even though they have lived together for a long time , they vane not really been able to achieve any conjugal happiness. She thinks herself unhappy and feels the 'coiling snakes of silence' or emptiness in her heart. At the end, she calls herself a freak or abnormal person who makes a show of being lustful in order that she may be regarded as a normal person.   

Kamala looks very determined to revolt against the conventional society’s definition of womanhood. Even she challenges the traditional sex roles. In many of her poems, she brings out the emotional emptiness and sterility of married life and the intensity of misery of the wife who surrenders to her husband who is repulsive, and with whom she has no emotional contact at all. 

The poem 'The Freaks' begins with a slow movement,representing her indifference to sex and ends on a n impulsive note, in keeping with the compromise. She must not only surrender herself to his love making however she hates it, she must also pretend to like it. Her self-respect insists it; the social customs require it. This is a male dominated world.

A married woman cannot articulate her voice to the filth of her experience. She must follow the social rules which man has made in a world. She is his subordinate, his property, an object; she has no right to raise her voice. Kamala Das`s poetry proves that Indian woman has irritated the typical male sense of courtesy and modesty. Kamala Das initiates a new age for woman poets by accepting new idiom, a new standard and new way of expression which reflects a entire denial of the conventional form of poetic expression of the male dominant culture.

Kamala Das is honest and at times full of anger when she projects andattacks on male domination. She is a poet of the modern Indian woman, giving expression to it more openly than any other Indian woman poet.

The motivating force of her notion is love that is frustrating experience. All her efforts to establish meaningful relations with other show to be fruitless. In Freaks, poet depicts the disappointment, senselessness and the torment of a woman who longs for true love but it is denied by her husband who is insensible to her psychological desires. She is revolted by cruelty of her companion. She feels trapped by her male ego. Therefore she refused to play the traditional role as a wife. It is natural that her poems represent a rebellion against male dominated social system .It shows that in a male dominated world she has courage to emphasis her feminine sensibility and to revolt against the system. She is proud of her femininity and does not fail to claim it.

She is conscious of a primary need for true love, psychological need and a desire for liberty within the family system. In this sense, she is truly liberated woman and a representative of modern woman who identify her right to sexual fulfillment and psychological security.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Nissim Ezekiel as a Poet

Ezekiel is a dedicated person to the rhyme, the extremes and pitfalls. No other Indian-English poet has today shown the ability to organise his experience into words as competently as Ezekiel. The remarkable aspect of his poetry is his sincerity and individuality. His poems generalise his own felt experience. It is neither repetitive nor shocking, but 'simple, introspective and analytical. He treats poetry as a first-hand record of the growth of his mind. He loves simplicity. His love of the genuine is explicit in the following: Life in the city, sexuality, the problems of marriage, the need to overcome alienation and to create integration among the various aspects of his character are Ezekiel's early and continuing themes There is a distinct personality expressed in the voice, themes and style. Life is seen as a quest for 4wholeness, for intellectual and spiritual satisfaction, for maturity.

Ezekiel showed that it was possible to write about oneself without-being self-consciously Indian and that an Indian poetry could express the experiences of the educated and urbanized and need not be obsessed with mythology, peasants and nationalist slogans with him a post-colonial poetry started which reflects the lives and identities that an increasing number of educated Indians knew or would seek.

Ezekiel is a poet of many a theme and one finds wider range of subjects and variety in his poetry. His poetry is not born out of dogma and he does not confine himself to a particular type, theme or technique in his poetry. He has an open mind and therefore he changes the subject matter of his poetry from time to time. He makes this clear in his poem ‘Theological’:  Ezekiel's poetry is marked by both a natural sense of Indianness. and an even.level of language and craft the real source of creative tension in his poetry is between his pervasive philosophic preoccupation and an insistent awareness of the ties stemming from the surrounding milieu. Ezekiel never postulates a truth but works out, in terms of irony, an answer which is purely tentative. In effect, even in regard to ostensibly philosophic issues, the residue of significance lies not in the validity of the speculation but in the ironic stance of the contemplation.

The new poetry (i.e., Indian English poetry after Independence) demanded a new use of language and called for the use of everyday speech rhythm in poetry. Thus there is a demand as it were, for the creation of an Indian English idiom, to give an identity to modern Indian English Poetry independent of and different from the world literatures written in English including Anglo-American literatures. Ezekiel has succeeded in creating a new Indian English idiom to a great extent.

Nizzim Ezekiel accepts the established linguistic framework but his art lies in so changing a unit of expression as to make it expressive of a state of mind. He is capable of turning words into a metaphor, image or symbols as the situation demands. It is only rarely that we come across poetic counters of expression but there is a strong undercurrent of poetry in the seemingly prosiac words. This is his characteristic mode which demonstrates his command over language and saves his poetry from degenerating into bare statement. Ezekiel is fond of using’ paradoxical language in his poetry for greater poetic effect. Ezekiel is a conscious poet ‘looking before and after’. To him poetry is not a gift to be adorned but a craft to be studied seriously. He believes in the revision of a poem and works hard on it, till it achieves a kind of perfection. A poet like a woman ‘must labour to be beautiful’. Ezekiel’s clarity of thought, clinical precision of words and phrases and employment of imagery make his poetry distinctly Indian.

The poet in Nissim Ezekiel is too self-conscious of artistic excellence while the man in him strives to explore the real meaning of existence through art. The poet, as a result, does not cither get prolix or make poetry the text of his aesthetic vision.  Metaphorically speaking, every doctrine, dream or ideal, whether realised or not, is analogous to the invention of a right poem or the writing of a real poem amounts to the discovery of a metaphysical truth. Poetry does not merely extenuate the pains of living in the poet but much more than that, his search for the real idiom as expressed therein. Ezekiel brought a sense of discipline, selfcriticism and mastery to Indian English poetry. He was the first Indian poet to have such a professional attitude.

Ezekiel's poetry is centred on a study of his conscious craftsmanship, his mastery of rhythm and diction and his treatment of modern urban life and the existential questions it generates .

These I have dwelt upon, listening to rain,
And turning in, resoled
That I must wait and train myself
To recognise the real thing,
And in the verse or friends I make
To have no trunk with what is fake.

Ezekiel's greatness lies in his effort to avoid the mistakes, which his fellow poets committed. He is a serious poet. His originality lies in his typical  poems, which are firmly rooted in Indian soil. Ezekiel's impersonalize i s
another landmark. Indeed David McCutchion's observation is a tribute to this great Indian poet: "Ezekiel belongs with Thom Gunn, R.S. Thomas, Elizabeth Jennings, Anthony Thwaite, and others like them. He has their cautious, discriminating style, precise and analytical, with its conscious rejection of the heroic and passionate as also of the sentimental and cosy. The technique is immaculate: rhymes, and carefully varied yet regular rhythms, lines that run over with a poised deliberateness. But behind the casual assurance one senses
the clenched first, the wounded tenderness."

Ezekiel's concept is that writing poetry is not just a matter of inspiration but studying the skill of writing carefully. This study demands a lot of patience from the poet. Only when unskilled poets try their hands in poetry, poetry turns out to be self-advertisement. Many of Ezekiel's poems express his view that poetry can be built in resolving the tension between two opposite forces and trying to maintain an equipoise. About this aspect Linda Hess remarks, Every mature poet finds his art demanding again and again that he synthesises certain powerful and apparently opposite forces within himself.

C.D.Narasimhaiah compliments him in the following words “But to the extent he has availed himself of the composite culture of India to which he belongs he must be said to be an important poet not merely in the Indian context, but in a consideration of those that are writing poertry anywhere in English”. What makes a poet belong to a particular country necessarily involves nationality, and his identity is to be found in being rooted in the soil. Ezekiel is deeply rooted in the Indian soil In him one discerns a certainty of touch that seems to reflect a confidence in the direction and purpose of his writing as well as an integrity of image of India, style and subject-matter.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Theme of nationalsim in The Shadow Lines

An important theme of the novel The Shadow Lines is the concept of nationalism that is gaining ground in today’s world. The author has held the extreme form of nationalism responsible for many a problem these days. The separatist and secessionist tendencies are the outcome of it. Love of the country, passion inspired nationalism and intoxication of patriotism cannot but lead to jingoism. Thus nationalism which had and which has great uses can become the greatest obstacle to world unity and world peace. This tribal instinct has been magnified beyond all measures resulting in political and economic megalomania. And the novel in its enthusiasm to prove the point has gone a little too far to proclaim that nationalism is a defunct force and in this background Tha’mma is ridiculed as ‘a still surviving specimen of fossilized nationalism.