A Feminist Critique in Amitav Ghosh's The Shadow Lines and

A Feminist Critique in Amitav Ghosh's The Shadow Lines and

The Global Journal of Literary Studies I Volume II, Issue I I February 2016 ISSN : 2395 4817 The Global Journal of Literary Studies I February...

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The Global Journal of Literary Studies

I

Volume II, Issue I

I February 2016

ISSN : 2395 4817

The Global Journal of Literary Studies

I

February 2016

I

Vol. II, Issue I

I

ISSN : 2395 4817

A Feminist Critique in Amitav Ghosh's The Shadow Lines and Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things

Chetan Prajapati

M.Phil. Scholar, Department of English, Hemchandracharya North Gujarat University Patan, Gujarat, INDIA.

Abstract “One is not born woman but she becomes one” -Simone de Beauvoir. Feminism is a constant effort by both women and men to stand against oppression and exploitation at family, society and work places. In this movement, feminists have raised their voice to change the same stereotype thinking which was prevalent in the society. Broadly speaking, today feminism is a struggle for getting equality, dignity and liberty within and outside the home. In short, feminists have fought for equal position in the society or in the institution in which women belong to. Thus with the same purpose, I present my research paper on a study of a Feminist Critique in Amitav Ghosh's The Shadow Lines and Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things. Both Roy and Ghosh are Indian English writers, extensively acclaimed worldwide. They have depicted a typical Indian society in their writings. I want to explore how the female characters of these novels are depicted sociologically, economically, politically and most importantly psychologically. I, in my research also want to see how these characters are inherently unequal in abilities with male. My study on this will surely help me see all those circumstances of the women which make them socially and personally alienated from the society which on a long run surely ruins their psyche. How women are created, considered and treated to be the puppet in the hands of men in these novels will be one of the key parts of my research paper. So, the very thought of analyzing the characters of Roy and Ghosh with one another has attracted me to do this research. This research, I think will also give me an opportunity to see how female are treated from a female point of view and how they are treated from a male point of view. By this way, I will be able to see both the writers’ perceptions towards female characters in our society. Keywords: Feminism, Oppression, Socio-economic, Psychoanalysis The Global Journal of Literary Studies

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Volume II, Issue I

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ISSN : 2395 4817

‘THE SHADOW LINES’ – AMITAV GHOSH The concrete and foremost high light of Amitav Ghosh’s The Shadow Lines is ‘post colonialism’ and in real sense the short-lived status of boundaries and frontiers, a key concept amidst the novel is how gender depicted in Indian society of his novel; matters on this topic. It is chiefly fascinating to know the two characters, the narrator's grandmother Tha'mma’s, and his cousin Ila’s, impact on the novel The Shadow Lines. Their view regarding nationalism is also one of the chief subject matters of this novel.

Tha'mma is continuously concerned with Nationalist movement and India's nationalist identity. She is passionately and blindly in love for India, she was born in Dhaka, Pakistan though; and therefore not strictly Indian. This is a main notion in post colonialism, how the "Imagined Communities" of nations are formed and how belonging is defined. While filling in an official form, Tha'mma writes her nationality without question as Indian; but then has to state her place of birth Dhaka, which is in East Pakistan. This makes her question her national identity and how it is formed. Here she is a bit confused between the lines she was born and she was brought up.

When Tha'mma returns to Dhaka, her birth town raises interesting themes extremely related to post colonialism, and that is the belongingness towards one’s home which changes through an act of leaving one’s home. Tha'mma finds her birth place Dhaka totally different from the ancient Dhaka what it used to be and she finds herself no one but an alien who changed place.

She is told, "But you are a foreigner now". How one’s migration changes one’s home and belonging forever is visibly carved in the plight of Tha’mma.

Her vacillation between her birth place and the place where she is brought up is ridiculed and questioned by other characters. The narrator's father mocks her saying -

"Did she really think the border was a long black line with green on one side and scarlet on the other, like it was in a school Atlas?"

She is not capable of finding out the realistic truth of borders. Her love for India is also depicted when she donates her precious necklace to Indian troops so that it can support them in war. The Global Journal of Literary Studies

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Volume II, Issue I

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ISSN : 2395 4817

Ila is also a female character who is very much impressed by the western culture and always praises Nick from the price family more than the narrator who loves her truly. After blindly following her passion towards someone eye-catching than he is in real sense, she later on repents on her action which she deliberately took in the form of marrying Nick. This incident also shows the mental condition of an Indian female, continuously craving for unreal passion and then repenting on her action; knowing the reality afterwards.

May on the other hand truly accepts Tridib in whatever condition he is. She is an emotional human being who deeply feels for all beings in the world. Her emotion towards living beings is reflected when she forces Tridib to stop the car and saves the road side dying dog. Once in Dhaka among furious rioters, she once again cries in horror that they are acting thoughtlessly, saving themselves while endangering Jethamoshai. Tridib gets down to save Jethamoshai and he is cut ear to ear by Muslim rioters. His end is brutal.

May on her part, is on an apology ever since Tridib's death and blames herself for his death. She sleeps on floor. She fasts. She works for earthquake relief and does the works of charity. She collects money from streets with all her banners, and posters for social welfare. May, like a true disciple of Christ, suffers his death like hell. She is literally on a self-torturing situation. It is only at the very end of the novel she realizes the meaning of sacrifice. Feeling free of her guilt, she says, 'But I know now I didn't kill him; I couldn't have, if I'd wanted. He gave himself up; it was a sacrifice. I know I can't understand it, I know I mustn't try, for any real sacrifice is a mystery'

If May is acutely conscious of her duties and faults, Ila is just the contrary character, self-centered, oblivious of others' needs and irresistibly charming. Ila's portrait is a typical drawing of a modern, beautiful, attractive, foolish girl. She is stubborn. She lives in her own world. She has no sense of commitment as such. Due to lack of depth, she lacks identity. Ila is flux, flowing and taking different shapes. ‘THE GOD OF SMALL THINGS’ – ARUNDHATI ROY

The female characters of The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy experience different ups and downs which to an extent are typical to the Indian society. Her female characters are nothing but a

The Global Journal of Literary Studies

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Volume II, Issue I

I February 2016

ISSN : 2395 4817

pragmatic depiction of her imagination which might seem to the readers near to reality. We are also given in The God of Small Things, a picture in which women are craving for their place in the society amid their socio-economical, socio-political and psychological condition. The quest of her women is the quest of freedom that they wrestle with. The oppression and opposition of patriarchal culture is at the root level of the novel.

The chief women characters of the novel Mammachi, Baby Kochamma, Margaret, Ammu and Rahel are repeatedly shaken and upset either by circumstances or by themselves. They call for the reader's sympathy and understanding which are reserved from the men in the novel. Women’s lives are highly affected by Pappachi and Chacko. Ammu, one of the principal characters and mother of Rahel and Estha is an epitome of female; suffering since her inception. The adjectives like a loving, caring and feeling daughter, mother, wife, lover and woman are exactly apt for Ammu. Her being beaten cruelly by Pappachi as a child is a clear cut example of patriarchal Indian society. She married Baba to escape Ayemenem, but as he was an obnoxious alcoholic, Ammu left him after the twins were born.

Ammu also faces a problematic psychologically disturbed condition when her husband Baba in order to save his job, forces Ammu to sleep with his boss. Here we can find her being forced to be under controlled by male character. But being an independent woman, she runs away with her two children and does not succumb to the situation. This shows her never losing bold character. Ammu is then disgraced because of her divorce, and she causes a huge scandal by having an affair with the untouchable Velutha.

Ammu is only voicing the feminine consciousness of victimization. Influence of Patriarchy in the politics of power, patriarchy becomes a potent tool to affect control and conformity in the family. Pappachi’s double-dealing crushes the lives of the members of his family. There is no escape from his clutches and utter dependence on him makes Mammachi and her daughter Ammu tolerate the force of his calculating meanness which settles like a moth on the family. When he realizes with a shock that he is seventeen years older than his wife Mammachi, and his wife is still in her prime young age, every night he beats her with a brass flower vase, only the frequency changes. One night he breaks the bow of Mammachi's violin and throws it in the river when her violin master accolades her on her exceptional talent. When Mammachi cries at Pappachi's funeral, Ammu tells her twins that it is 'more because she was used to him than because she loved him'. She 'was used to' being beaten from time to time.

The Global Journal of Literary Studies

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Volume II, Issue I

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ISSN : 2395 4817

It is Chacko, the only son of Pappachi who inherits his father's kingdom, the property and proprietorship of Ayemenem house and the factory. Though Ammu does as much work in the factory as Chacko, he always refers to it as 'my factory, my pineapple, my pickles'. Legally, Ammu as a daughter has no claim to the property. Chacko says, "What's yours is mine and what's mine is also mine". He misses no opportunity to insult Ammu in her own home and is heedless of the scars that are created on her selfesteem. When viewed from a perspective encircling the fate of women in the various institutional domains of society, the many small insults women suffer in face-to-face interaction do perhaps seem trivial. These daily gestures are constant reminders which help constitute women's subordinate status in an Indian society.

Conclusion: Sahitya Akademi Award winning novel ‘The Shadow Lines’ by one of the most prominent Indian English novelists Amitav Ghosh and the Booker Prize Winner debut novel ‘The God of Small Things’ by India’s prominent female activist Arundhati Roy have a deep carvings of women which we actually find in a typically Indian society. Both Ghosh and Roy have tried their level best to depict psychological, sociological and economical condition of women in Indian patriarchal society in their novels. Both of them have described a typical twentieth century Indian society in their fictions so minutely that to an extent; readers find themselves woven in the story. Independent, suffering, poor, pathetic, brave, foolish, innocent are the different attributes which I think are highly applicable to women of both Ghosh and Roy.

References Ghosh, Amiav. The Shadow Lines. Gurgaon: Penguine Books India Pvt. Ltd. , 2009. Roy, Arundhati. The God of Small Things. London: Fourth Estate, 2009. Nicholls, David G. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. Seventh. Delhi: East West Press Pvt. Ltd., 2009.

Webliography: www.boloji.com www.enotes.com thelndiangazette.wordpress.com ardhendude.blogspot.in The Global Journal of Literary Studies

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Volume II, Issue I

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www.amitavghosh.com thelndiangazette.wordpress.com www.literary-articles.com www.litcharts.com www.shmoop.com

The Global Journal of Literary Studies

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Volume II, Issue I

I February 2016

ISSN : 2395 4817