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THE AWAKENING by KATE CHOPIN – A Marxist and Feminist Analysis

BLOG ~ GORVIKA MA’AM

Submitted by ~ ABHILASHA (1420); English Hons. Sec B.

Novel ~ THE AWAKENING

Author ~ KATE CHOPIN

First published in 1899, The Awakening, is a novel written by Kate Chopin, which was initially titled A SOLITARY SOUL. This is one of the earliest American novels to talk about women’s issues making it a milestone work on the early feminism. The novel is set in the 19th century New Orleans, Louisiana gulf coast. The plot depicts the protagonist Edna Pontellier struggling between her motherhood responsibilities and her unorthodox views on femininity. The Awakening is a complete mixture of realistic narrative, sharp-witted social elucidation, abstract complexities altogether making it a forefather of American Modernistic Literature.

For my paper, I’ll be using two theories on the novel “The Awakening”.

  • MARXIST THEORY
  • FEMINIST THEORY

MARXIST THEORY AND ITS APPLICABILITY IN “THE AWAKENING”

The cultural theories developed by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels rests upon the principle that the history of humanity and the societal institutions is hell bent on the changes in economic organization. Marxists assert that the economic structures within the society overlook the reasons behind political and social behavior. A concern for social rather than the individual.

In her novel, “The Awakening”, Kate creates different social and economic statuses for each character. To point out, Leonce Pontellier represents the Creoles as he is an established person, rich and successful, and according to Victorian norms, he can marry any woman of his choice and recast her life. On the contrary is his wife ‘Edna Pontellier’, who has been raised in a middle class family and she lived her own small life all within herself. The man that she falls in love with, Robert Lebrun, is a young, twenty-six-years old single man, who has the passion to adapt and fit himself into the higher social class whereas Edna, could not fully adapt herself into becoming rich. The Marxist ideology is firmly fixed with the faith in society’s and individual’s creation of economic motives. These are the motives that create socioeconomic demarcation amongst the group members within a society.

A Marxist analysis of “The Awakening” focuses on the ways that shape the characters’ intellectual issues produced by Capitalism. The construct of capitalist society,  that is, the passion to excel and succeed socially as well as economically, causes Mr. Pontellier to take his wife for granted, and to see her merely as a valuable piece of his personal property. When Edna couldn’t take it anymore her husband’s attitude, she resulted into an absolutely dissatisfied wife, a mother and a woman. When she became aware of the fact that she is being repressed by the Capitalist Ideology and forced into a relationship she can’t bear, she rises above the impact of exploitation and alienation that the capitalist society has gifted her. She recognizes her potential, explores her sexuality, her identity, achieves awareness, control, and turns herself into a woman being. However, the problem arises when the individual takes control of the situation s/he was repressed for so long, and tries to act upon the oppression, it gravitates to further isolate the individual from the society. The same happened with Edna. She describes herself as having declined in the social scale, and correspondingly making her way up in the spiritual one and every step she took forward gave her a sense of relief from the obligations and perhaps added to her strength and augmentation as an individual. Edna’s capability to put at stake her social comfort so as to grow as an individual, and explore herself is worth the praise. Kate Chopin’s underlying intentions, here, serve a two-fold purpose. On the one hand, she is letting her character Edna isolate herself and break the stereotypes from the structure of such a classist society; and on the other hand, she wants Edna to grow as a person, as a woman, as an individual and create her own identity and not depend on any materialistic relationships and society. Thereby, Chopin makes it clear that individual discharge is more significant than societal out-turns, irrespective of Edna’s depression and the end of the novella.

Chopin finely mocks Edna’s powerlessness to come to terms with the irony that she dislikes being ill-treated, without realizing the subjugation she afflicts upon her servants. For instance, she alienates her servants from the outcome of their labour, asking them to live in a room backyard and not the newly built house they spent working on for Edna. Since she felt alienated, and subjugated by the upper societal demarcation, this viewpoint, here, serves as a contrast to the motive Edna wants to move into an entirely new world. These ideological battles present in the novella suggest significantly the Marxist melody throughout the text.

At the time this novella was written, class system existed within the classes; as a result, the protagonist realized not only her class consciousness, also herself as a whole, her identity in the absence of the restrictions of Victorian norms and ideologies that had always kept her in dark. Hence, it can be safely concluded that Marxist concern stays the most prominent throughout the novella “The Awakening”.

FEMINIST THEORY AND ITS APPLICABILITY IN “THE AWAKENING”

Feminism is basically an entire range of movements and struggles, pertaining over years, that secure a woman her equal positioning in the society in every field- be it political, social, economical, or personal.

Years before Kate published her novella “The Awakening”, the society was enrolled in a battle over social ideologies and demand for equal rights for women.

Edna, the protagonist, embodies all the social ideologies for which women of the era were making great efforts. She is a respectable woman who acknowledges not just her sexual desires but also her strength and courage made her to act upon them. Victorian women were expected to behave in a certain manner, perform their domestic duties and take care of everyone in the family and she embodied all that until her saturation point. A woman who never cared about her needs and desires and wants, was now turning into a lady that wants her desires and needs fulfilled. Falling in love with Robert gave her the strength to explore her sexual desires, and grow as person coming out of the expected social roles of a woman of Victorian era. Her slow and subtle transformation into just “EDNA”, from “Mrs. Pontellier”, lightens the fact that a woman is never the property of her husband, who owns it, rather she must fight to attain her forgotten identity and must ensure herself a place in the society.

The kind of freedom Edna desired was lived by her friend Mademoiselle Reisz, who is unmarried. Edna becomes influenced by Adele Ratignolle, married with children, she is a creole woman who motivates Edna to adjust and be conventional.

In the 19th century America, where the life of a woman revolved around being married, child-bearing, and maintaining domestic spheres, a woman that Edna has become, was unacceptable and Chopin’s heroine’s actions were just the same. Kate was putting those dangerous ideas into the heads of women, inculcating in them the conceptions that they are their own heroines, and obviously independent of their husbands; regardless of the nineteenth century expectations from women. Edna Pontellier’s awakening is one of her mental intelligibility and her suicide step is a victorious act. By committing suicide, she finally relieved herself from the social constraints and possessions. An act of Liberation, her suicide is an important step, thus justifying Edna as an ultimate feminist.

CONCLUSION

Marxism and Feminism both aim to help for a better social life in their own ways and own theories. Feminism- being a sociopolitical movement, makes Edna realize the worth of her life and the no-need to stick to societal expectations to make herself adjustable to the society, instead enjoy her freedom. Marxism- being a socioeconomic theory, tends to base the society on the theory that class system, capitalism can only ruin individual’s peace and his relations to other people, thereby,  thoroughly rejects Capitalism.

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Ice – candy man by Bapsi Sidhwa – a feminist analysis

 

Originally published as Ice-Candy Man, Cracking India is a semi-autobiographical text in which Bapsi Sidhwa through the lens of her childhood memories recounts the events surrounding Partition. It represents a series of female characters who have survived in a chaotic time of 1947 in India, the period of worst religious riots in the history of India. This religion based division resulted in mass violence, murder, and rape. The novel Ice-Candy-Man may be read as a postcolonial novel attempting to portray the life and times of the Partition of India giving due importance to the other marginal sections of society based on the distinction of gender, class, caste, or religion. Sidhwa, through Ice-Candy-Man critiques the stereotypical images of women and fights for their empowerment. Ice-Candy-Man is a significant testimony of a gynocentric view of reality in the backdrop of a religious turbulence. This novel highlights feminist concerns about women’s issues, particularly their experience of victimization and suppression within patriarchal societies and how this suppression takes a brutal form in the face of national upheaval.

The narrator is a young Parsee girl named Lenny, who is suffering from polio. Her lameness is suggestive of handicap, a woman writer faces, because writing – an intellectual exercise – is considered a male bastion, outside the domain of women. Lenny as a narrator moves from one phase of her life, i.e., childhood to adolescence. Throughout the course of the novel she observes men’s lascivious and degrading attention towards women, voraciousness of male sexual desires, women’s plight as they are reduced to the status of sexual objects. We can see that right from her childhood the sexual identity thrust upon Lenny – “I can’t remember a time when I ever played with dolls….relatives and acquaintances have persisted in giving them to me.” Lenny as a girl learns that marriage of girls is of utmost importance in the society. The intense concern for her marriage even in her childhood puts Lenny in dismay. She states, “Drinking tea, I am told, makes one darker. I’m dark enough…….It’s a pity Ad’s fair and Lenny so dark. He’s a boy. Anyone will marry him,” implying that a women has to be beautiful to be desirable while a man is exempted from such conditioning. Her schooling is stopped as suggested by her doctor Col. Bharucha, because she was suffering from polio – “She’ll marry—have children—lead a carefree, happy life,” implying that a women has no need for education, for her only duty in this patriarchal society is marry, rear children and be efficient in household duties. Patriarchal society views women as physically weak to venture into the world outside the four walls of their houses, thus, limiting them to the domestic sphere where they have to accept the dominance of her male counterpart.

The formative influence of Lenny is her Ayah Shanta who is a Hindu girl of eighteen. It is Ayah who epitomizes the strength of the femininity and infuses in Lenny the ideas of freedom and will. The Ayah has accumulated a good number of admirers – the Ice-Candy-Man, the Government House gardener, the Masseur, the zoo-attendant, the restaurant owner, and a knife-sharpening Pathan. She is able to influence the men around her, although much of her influence stems from her physical appeal but her natural beauty and sensuality attract men, creating an intriguing source of power. As Lenny observes these men she realizes that the gaze of Ayah’ admirer indicates not just lust, but a powerful desire for ownership, calling to attention the objectification a women’s body.

Communal riots break out in Lahore. The Sikhs and Hindus start migrating to Amritsar and the Muslims are asked to quit Amritsar. While migrating, the people of the warring community attack each other and it is the women and children who suffer the most. The narrative takes a horrifying turn with the arrival of a train from Gurdaspur in which the Ice Candy Man expects his relatives return to Lahore from Amritsar. The train arrives and it is loaded not by passengers but with the dead bodies – “A train from Gurdaspur has just come….. Everyone in it is dead. Butchered………two gunny-bags full of women’s breasts!” The women were not only killed but first tortured, raped and then butchered like animals. Through this event Sidhwa questions the hypocrisy of people who glorified the image of the Indian woman and worship them as goddesses, but at the time of upheaval the same image is soiled for the sake of revenge. The bag of severed breasts is transformed into a public form of communication, a verification of nationalist power. With the arrival of the train, frenzied Dilnawaz becomes blood thirsty of the people of the warring community. This is when Ayah’s suffering begins. Dilnawaz (the Ice Candy Man) leading the Muslim mob raids Godmother’s house in search of the Hindus. Mad with rage, he throws Ayah into the hands of the frenzied mob just for Ayah being a Hindu girl – “They drag Ayah out. They drag her by her arms…..her bare feet – that want to move backwards – are forced forward. Her lips are drawn away from her teeth, and the resisting curve of her throat opens her mouth like the dead child’s scream-less mouth. ” Four men stand pressed against her………their lips stretched in triumphant grimaces…” The image of these men satisfied and triumphant as they carry her away is horrifying for Lenny. Ayah is then raped mercilessly, beaten up and thrown away among the brothels of Hiramandi and is later forced to marry Dilnawaz who renames her as Mumtaz. This event of reaming the Ayah highlight the fact that a woman has no right over her identity, her sense of identity is associated with her husband.

This episode of Ice-Candy-Man and Ayah destroys Lenny’s conceptions about love. She was shocked to see Ice-Candy-Man pushing his wife Ayah into the business of prostitution. The site of women being raped during the riots petrifies her. She watches men turning into beasts; they were declaring superiority over each other by sexually assaulting women. Rape is the greatest violence because it implies that a woman has no rights on her own body and it can be used by anyone to meet their end. Such acts of violence are an intimate destruction of the feminine, and can also be read as an attempt to annihilate male honor. Feminine form was reconceived as canvas for nationalist messages in 1947 Lahore. The metaphor of female body or mother is often used for a nation. Thus the dignity, purity and honor of women have always been taken as sign of the dignity and integrity of a nation. Ranna’s community has a clear plan to safeguard the women from being used in such a way – “Rather than face the brutality of the mob they will pour kerosene around the house and burn themselves……The young men will engage the Sikhs at the mosque, and at other strategic locations, for as long as they can and give the women a chance to start the fire.” Thus the idea of protection shifts from keeping the women alive as long as possible to allow the women enough time to kill themselves. Such a plan reveals the importance of women’s purity to male constructions of community. The entire purpose of this encounter is to safeguard women’s bodies from public shaming. Honor was “located in the body of the woman”. Once raped, violated, and mutilated, they cannot be incorporated back into the spaces of the home or the nation. Sidhwa uses the figures of Lenny’s caretakers, to explore the fates of women who survived these acts of violence. Women, once they fall prey to men’s violence like Lenny’s two Ayah’s, cannot hope for their restitution to their own families. Through Ayah, Sidhwa demonstrates the loss of feminine power, and had the story ended at this point, the novel would be nothing but a traditional Partition novel, with the men as victors and the women as victims.

However, Sidhwa belonging to that group of women writers who affirms that women should utilize their potentials beyond the domestic life and assert their individuality, does not end the novel with the pitiable situation of the Ayah. Sidhwa’s two strongest examples of feminine power are yet to come. Prior to Partition, Lenny’s mother played the role of a dutiful wife, catering to her husband’s every need and managing the household. During the events of Partition, however, Lenny’s mother begins to subvert the patriarchal social order by rescuing and housing women. Lenny’s mother and aunts construct a refuge for these “fallen women” who raped or forced into prostitution attempting to reunite the women with their families or to find housing and work for those who, seen as permanently shamed and defiled, and cannot return home. They also smuggle gasoline to help their Hindu and Sikh friends cross the border safely to India. In rescuing these women, Lenny’s mother has clearly moved beyond the traditional role of housewife to become a social activist. It is the two women who undertake the risky job of saving lives in danger. She portrays women not only as victims but also as saviors. They are shown performing heroic duties to bring order to this chaotic world. Through Lenny’s mother the narrator suggests that women should have a purpose in life besides domesticity. Another character who epitomizes feminine power is Lenny’s Godmother (one of her aunts) whose name is Rodabai. Her authoritativeness, self-confidence, capacity to handle extreme situations deftly is evident by her dealing with the Ice-Candy-Man and the rescue of the Ayah from him.  She scolds the Ice-Candy-Man for disgracing the Ayah, “What kind of man would allow his wife to dance like a performing monkey before other men? You’re not a man; you’re a low-born, two-bit evil little mouse!” When she realizes that Ayah does not want to live with him, she decisively sets about to rescue her and manages to send her back to her people.

Although Sidhwa indicts patriarchal culture and norms for perpetuating violence against women, she does not hold masculinity in dark light. In the case of Ice-Candy-Man, his behavior may be described in relation to the larger forces of collective psychosis. Sidhwa not only throws light on the suffering of women caused by men but she also explores the fact that women can also be instrumental and cause of the suffering and exploitation of other female subjects. In the novel Ice-Candy-Man we see that slave-sister is harassed by her own sister Godmother and lives in perpetual obedience to her. She is leading the life of a bonded slave, forced to suppress herself in every interaction with the old lady; she is not allowed to exercise her will in any situation. Sidhwa wants to convey that the exploitation, manipulation and suppression of one individual by another are not confined to the male-female relationship. The feminists, it seems, are being made alive to the dangers of replicating the patriarchal principle and thus perpetuating the class of the exploiters and the exploited amongst themselves. Another instance where a female is perpetuating violence against another female character is in the relationship of Pappo and her mother Muccho. Muccho takes Papoo as her rival and saddles her with all the household chores, beating and abusing her on the slightest of pretexts. But despite this, Papoo cannot be browbeaten into submission; she is strong and high-spirited. To break her spirit Muccho arranges her marriage with a middle aged dwarf. Papoo is drugged with opium at the time of the ceremony to suppress her revolt. Lenny curiously studies Muccho’s face during the wedding ceremony and sees a contented smile on her lips. The sketch of Muccho suggests that women themselves are unconsciously bound by their conditioning and encumber their daughters with a repetitive fate, treating marriage as a cure of all ills.

Sidhwa talks of emancipation of women and ends the novel on a positive note with Ayah being sent back to her home. Throughout the novel, Lenny emerges as a courageous and bold girl, she is inquisitive, demanding and daring who moves forward in life despite various hindrances. She understands the limitations associated with women’s lives in patriarchal society. The suffering of Ayah is not the suffering of a single woman but it represents the pain of the thousands of women who were kidnapped, beaten, raped, and butchered like animals. Lenny, her Ayah, her mother and Godmother exhibit capability of assuming new roles and responsibilities. Despite her conviction that she is now an impure person, the ayah retains her will to go back to her family and face life anew. Lenny’s relationship with her cousin upholds the principle of equality, for she does not allow him to manipulate her sexually. In no way does Lenny’s lameness constrict her psyche. Rather than being dominated by the male, she chooses not to conform, telling Cousin that she is not interested, making her own preferences known. Her cousin, consequently, is placed in a subservient role and laments his lack of power over.

Sidhwa in the backdrop of the communal violence reconstructs the postcolonial history from the perspective of the marginalized sections of society. Through narratives like Cracking India, women are able to reclaim their autonomy and express their account of Partition history. Throughout the novel Sidhwa has critiqued the stereotypical images of women as dark, mysterious, exotic and homely. The patriarchal society should perceive women beyond the roles of wives, daughters and mothers. A big transformation is required at the social level, which will acknowledge women as human beings with desires, feelings, ambitions, and potentials.

Bibliography

Ayah in Bapsi Sidhwa’s Cracking India.” Modern Fiction Studies

Sidhwa, Bapsi, Ice-Candy-Man. New Delhi: Penguin Books India; 1989.

Sidhwa’s Ice-Candy- Man.” South Asian Review 25.2 (2004): 43-50.

 

 

 

 

Submitted by: Surbhi Meena

                                                                                                                  Roll no. : 1167

 

DECODING SEXISM IN ‘OF MICE AND MEN’

 

John Steinbeck’s ‘Of Mice and Men’ (1937) is considered to be an emotional novella narrating beautifully the chronicle of selfless friendship between two men. The selfless love which Lennie and George possess for each other is truly remarkable. While they lead a harsh life by laboring manually on ranches, the burden of their miserable lives is eased a little by affectionate companionship. The narrator paints a vivid picture of miscellaneous subjects but most prominently a picture of loyal companionship which is so rare, so special and so unusually perfect.  Lennie’s innocence is admirable while George’s selfless love for the puerile lad puts him on a pedestal. This fraternal bonding not only among George and Lennie but also amongst other ranch workers Slim, Candy, Crooks and Carlson is emphasized. This apparently simple highly emotional bonding however is also somehow fueled by a sense of combined hatred towards a girl. The ranch workers labor hard to attain some form of substantial stability and eventually own a piece of land which evidently remains an unattainable dream for them.

The issue of masculinity in the text is appealing. Lennie appears masculine by virtue of his physical attributes namely ‘huge shapeless face, large pale eyes and broad strong shoulders’ embodies supposedly feminine behavioral attributes while George, a man with ‘small strong hands, slender arms, and thin body’ adheres to role of a patriarch in the relationship. Their muscle brain combination seems unequal but George needs Lennie more than he can apprehend and this companionship seems to be filling the void within them making them complete. Lennies’s constant desire to pet soft creatures and his fetish towards their delicate bodies him could be seen as an attempt to find the feminine within him and nurturing his own remnant femininity. The only Curley being highly insecure of his small stature is filled with contempt for other supposedly masculine men like Lennie. This eruption of jealousy in Curley however is also blamed on the supposedly ungrateful woman in his life who refuses to restrict herself in a ‘two by four house’ and does not abide by the laws meant for a dutiful self sacrificing wife. The problems with an otherwise marvelously realistic book start here.

The loose lousy woman without any name or sense of identity is Curley’s wife. She is the only women on the ranch and is dubbed by men as an abomination. She is shunned by the men of the ranch and her husband Curley is clearly a mentally disturbed and physically insecure tyrant who does not attempt comfort her in any way rather the text suggests he could be physically abusive.

‘She gives Slim the eye’ ‘maybe that’s why Curley’s pants is full of ants’

The text or at least the attitude of characters is highly contemptuous and misogynistic and even Curley’s crookedness is blamed on her.  George after his very first meeting with her calls her ‘a tramp’ a rattrap and a ‘piece of prison’ while Lennie finds her ‘pruty’.

No alternative of any other major woman character is available to analyze and verify the nascent misogyny of the text. Only other mention is that of Aunt Clara who the epitome of femininity. A stereotypical feminine figure that is overtly benevolent and caring. Other alternative is the whore Suzy who always cracks jokes but there is no in between. The society is setting up binaries and Curley’s wife was neither of the two. Her character is nonconformist and does not abide by character binaries and the dominating patriarchal society has zero tolerance for such tramps.

Even her dead body is blames for being a nuisance and breaking down hell on every ones beloved innocent.  After she lays dead on the floor in spite of showing any grief or sorrow at her  demise Candy spits at her and says, ‘You goddamned tramp, you done it didn’t you? Everybody said you’d mess things up, you just wasn’t no good.’ Even accidental fatality of mice and puppies and rabbits are lamented more that the murder of a woman. This intense dehumanization is very problematic. As modern readers the lack of sympathy from other characters is  highly condemnable. Even her husband’s anger seems more like a personal vendetta. Death however purges the girl of her meanness and the author suggests that the girls behavior could be a consequence of the situation. Thus, she herself was the victim of circumstances. The narratorial voice gets overly sympathetic yet no mark of sorrow is evident for her death rather all of it is preserved for Lennie.

Interestingly in Steinbeck’s narration the two men often get in trouble because of a woman. In weed Lennie wanted to touch the dress of another girl and she had alleged a rape case against him. The truth remains ambiguous as the only version available is that of George. The girl understandably gets ‘scared’ and even merely touching a dress in no way not a form of molestation. George somehow by the virtue of Lennie’s innocent portrayal with which readers tend to highly sympathize, cunningly antagonizes the girl and Steinbeck’s novel neither gives an insight to the truth nor does it give the girl a benefit of the doubt.

Curley’s wife merely gets a paragraph to narrate her agony. She was refrained from working and was domesticated for the sake of marriage. Her ambitions came in the way of her happiness. Undoubtedly she threatens Crooks, another marginalized character but these empty threats seems more like an act of self preservation. The subjugation of women and black are clear however a woman’s loneliness is not justified by the narrator. Just like Crooks Curley’s wife is also lonely and in every term an untouchable but unlike the black man she neither gets any sympathies nor any regards. The black man’s isolation is referred to as tragic however the girl’s loneliness is made to seem natural.

She is portrayed as a sexual predator and a seductress who was asking for it. Her makeup her painted face, dress and manners all serve as markers of her vulgarity. She lured Lennie, opened her silky hair to provoke him and Lennie is portrayed as the poor victim of unrestricted female sexuality. The author fulfills every stereotype and ruins for us a beautiful written realist novel.  Author’s portrayal of masculinity and femininity is ambiguous, his portrayal of women however remains problematic.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Steinbeck, John. “Of Mice and Men”. Vintage classic. New York 2005

 

SUBMITTED BY-

NEHA SINGH

66

The Quest for Satiation- A reading of Mohan Rakesh’s Halfway House

Halfway house is a play written by Mohan Rakesh, published in the year 1969. The play seems to give a scathing critique of the unsatisfactory and incomplete nature of bourgeois existence. The play also shows the influence of modern theatrical and philosophical traditions especially of Theatre of Absurd (Brecht, Ionesco, Beckett etc.) and Theatre of Ideas (Sartre, Camus and Shaw etc.). During this period, in India all were touched by this wave. Plays were making serious enquiries about oneself and existentialism.

All the characters in this play are shown to be incomplete and in fragments of their own predicaments but women are more incomplete than men. The play foregrounds the corrosiveness of a disintegrated family through their characters.

 “The real commitment of a writer is not to any particular philosophy but to himself, his times and the life of his times.”    (Bakalam-khud, p. 112)

Rakesh was a firm believer of the above line and all his works were rooted in his immediate surroundings. The truth that Rakesh tried to convey was that of the new consciousness and conflict seen in the modern relationships between a man and a woman. Rakesh has chosen a modern setting to deal with modern issues of ego clash and conflicts between a man and a woman in a dysfunctional family with no way to escape. They are doomed to be incomplete.

The prologue uses Brecht’s principle of alienation to make the audience feel detach from the play so that they can view the play from a critical perspective and alertness.  The man in the black suit can be seen as the ‘Sutradhar’ who hints at the possibilities of the play. The prologue gives a glimpse of absurdist and existentialism but once it paves way for the main play, the realist development of the play takes place.

The opening scene resembles Camus’ discursive writings or Beckett’s theatre.  The play begins with a sense of suspense that not everything is revealed in front of audience, the characters know more and gradually these details may be revealed. An aura of complexity is developed throughout the play, the “air” is wrong in the house. Binny links the problems of her marital life in some mysterious way with the house, its inhabitants and the “air”. This is an absurdist pattern, the impossibility of understanding and explaining things, as mostly found in plays of Beckett and Ionesco.

Michel Foucault in his essay “The Subject and Power” explains that Power comes when two indispensable elements are involved and one’s actions affects other’s actions and reactions similarly, the fact that we are in the midst of a matriarchal household provides the women the source of her power. The man of the house seems unconcerned with most of the family issues because Rakesh has given the economic arrangement in the hands of the women.

The play oscillates between the naturalist and absurdist discourse. There are also incidents in the play where the family members try to communicate but are unable to interact with each-other, the influence of post-naturalist drama is evident here. They are all incomplete beings of a disintegrated family living in their halfway house. The banalities of house are presented in a manner from where nothing connects with what succeeds or follows from what proceeds (like plays of Ionesco) The conversations also moves from nowhere to nowhere. There is no meaning to any purpose or action. The tin cutter is also used as a symbol in the play where Ashok wants to cut the dismal environment surrounding the house but fails too.

Living a contemporary life in that period of time was like being dependent on a cleft stick. You think it is not possible to survive without holding on to one. People like Mahendranath are ready to suffer a lifetime of pain and agony than to leave the cleft stick and like Savitri keep changing cleft sticks. The main tragedy does not lie in the fact that the stick is cleft but somewhere it is joined.

A similarity can be seen between ‘Waiting for Godot’ and ‘Halfway House’.  Savitri and Mahendranath are like either of the two couple from Beckett’s ‘Waiting for Godot’ whose destiny is sealed together. They are tied to live together and no one can survive without another. They closely resemble ‘Pozzo’ and ‘Lucky’ as the audience can never make out whose troubling whom in their case and who should free the other one.The following lines of halfway house, resonates with Act-I where the characters cannot do anything.

“I’ve encountered you before… haven’t I?

-***

– Did you come for an interview?

-***

– It seems as if I have.. might have been another girl!”

The play also resonates with Act II of ‘Waiting for Godot’, the one with two or three green leaves, where a false expectation is created that the situation is going to change but nothing happens. Even when Savitri takes out her festive saree to wear we feel now things will change but ultimately nothing happens implying the futility of human existence.

With the desire to look for “completeness” in “the other’ places Savitri is at the centre of this absurdist drama.

Rakesh has also pointed out the insecurities and anxiety of children as a part of a dysfunctional modern family. Binny and Kinny appears to be the extension of Savitri’s self. Binny’s failing marriage and mental turmoil as well as Kinny’s aggression and unstable mind are part of Savitri’s self. On the other hand Ashok’s disgust towards her mother, not interested in job attitude and indifference towards Savitri’s friends are all a parcel of Mahendranath’s characteristics.

One after another event unfolds in a manner that we sympathize with Savitri and her struggle to make the family function effectively but as the play approach its climax and her true character is revealed even the sacrifices she makes for the family is belittled for their absurdities. The whole play works in a way of undercutting her efforts and reach to a point where inaction is preferred over action.

“It was obvious even then that you didn’t confide Mahendra to be the man with whom you could spend your life with…..Not because you thought I was better than Mahendra but only because.. I was not Mahendra.”

The ‘working woman’ was a new phenomenon of that period (1960s). When assertion of personal rights and individual freedom became important in the unit of family it became difficult to adjust and created a situation of crisis because no one is ready to surrender. The institution of marriage has always worked entirely to the advantage of man. Woman was just a commodity in a man’s world without sense of consciousness of her individuality. As she became a career oriented woman, she’s no longer confined to four walls and she became aware of her identity and therefore in a position to assert her now she’s able move in the same man’s world and meets other men freely. Working women were seen as a threat to the male dominated world and an agent who could destabilize the patriarchal system.

Through the character of Savitri, Rakesh is trying to depict the predicament of a rising new woman. Savitri had dreams and aspirations that no men could possibly fulfill. It was not about Mahendranath not standing up to her expectations but any man at his place could not have satisfied her. A sense of loneliness would have invaded her; this becomes a precursor to the failure of modern day marriages which are meant to fall apart sooner or later. She now has different parameter to judge her husband, instead of seeing who he is she is focusing on who he is not. Savitri turns out to be a very career oriented ambitious woman who wants too much –

“Because the meaning of life for you is how many different things you can have and enjoy at the same time.”

The name Savitri of the protagonist also holds a lot of significance. It’s ironical how a Savitri of tradition had fought the God of death to win back the life of her beloved husband whereas the modern day Savitri is desperate to do anything to remove her husband from her life. Aadhe-Adhure is the tragic concept of living with the no longer valid and exhausted traditional concepts in a modern world.

Savitri’s long dialogues towards the end describe how Mahendranath was reduced to just an object of his friend’s hands and had no individual personality. But at home he was a totally different person. “That same Mahendra who smiles meekly among his friends, becomes a fiend when he comes home.” Binny’s dialogues also throw light on her parent’s abusive relationship. “You don’t know what’s been happening here, you can’t even imagine what it was life…”

The cruel images are used for the Mahendranath and not Savitri. It is about “Daddy’s rages” “when he gagged her and beat her up” “dragging her by the hair to the WC.”  The play does not deal with these cruel images of domestic violence but subsumes it in a hegemonic male-friendly discourse. The onus of tragedy always lies with women.

The play gives a gender-biased representation. While the man’s cruelty is a matter of past, the wife’s sins haunt the family and will keep on haunting forever. Though the women occupy the center stage, it is the man who gets the final verdict.

The words of Savitri shake up the whole edifice of patriarchal system where she not only questions the manliness of her husband, his dependency on his friends but also places her actions as consequences of his (domestic violence).

In the final section Juneja tears Savitri into pieces. He makes some insightful comments on her marriage life. Is Juneja a spokesperson of Rakesh’s own analysis of the couple and we feel so compelled to accept his view as the truth? Juneja’s basis of accusations on Savitri is a disadvantageous position in which Savitri is caught just because of her some weak moments of intimacy with him long ago.

The entire force of Savitri’s decision relies upon Jagmohan who is coming to “fetch” her. The word “fetch” itself speaks about the attitude of the play towards women. The very entry of Jagmohan reflects the futility of Savitri’s efforts. Jagmohan puts out the flame and she is back in her “hell”.

The nature of Savitri’s relations with other men is also not clear. Savitri’s character is left with a lot of uncertainties and ambiguities till the very end. In the end her entire struggle seems to be merely a web of words and her whole life lost in sterile reactions.

Rakesh himself once said “Every one of us is living a life, a life in fragments.”

The return of Mahendranath at the end makes us go around the circle and reach from where we have started, all incomplete beings are back in the halfway house, both of them are back in the “hell’. The hell stands eternal, inviolate. We are till the very end unsure of who is responsible for the ‘hell’ Savitri or Mahendranath. Either can be shown to be ‘more sinned against than sinning’.

Mohan Maharishi’s point in his paper “Experimentation and Innovation: Possible Directions” talks about how Rakesh’s Halfway house is able to touch the very nerve of anxiety and insecurity felt by the middle class during the period of change and coping with the modern life.

The significance of the title of the play is present in Savitri’s utterances. Initially she feels her husband is an incomplete being and this suffocates her but slowly she realizes that all men in her life are alike. They are all fragmented selves.

WORKS CITED

  1. Rastogi, Girish. Mohan Rakesh and his plays. Allahabd: Lokbharti Prakashan. 1989
  2. Kumar, Sanjay. Halfway House: A Critical Commentary. Worldview Publications. 2001
  3. Maharishi, Mohan. Experimentation and Innovation in Indian Theatre. Sahitya Akademi. 1991
  4. Agrawal, Pratibha. Mohan Rakesh. Sahitya Akademi, 1987.
  5. Basu, Kumar Dilip. Halfway House: Some Stray Comments Only. Worldview Publications, 2001
  6. Nigam, R.L. Aadhe Adhure: A Comment. Independence Issue. 1969.

By- Prerna Deep (1496)

The Queer and Gender in Adiga’s ‘The White tiger’

“I swear by God, sir- all thirty six million and four of them- The moment I saw his face, I knew: This is the master for me.”
-Balram Halwai

Arvind Adiga’s ‘The White Tiger’ published in 2008, by Harper Collins, was his debut novel. The Man Booker Prize winner, is a post colonial novel about Balram Halwai, who rises from the “darkness” and establishes his identity through transgressions. The anti protagonist narrates the contradictions between light and dark India, through the story of his rise to entrepreneurship, via his letters to Chinese premier Mr. Jiabao. The novel is set in the patriarchal post colonial capitalist India.

About the patriarchal capitalist society, Luce Irigaray writes,
“The trade that organizes patriarchal societies takes place exclusively among men. Women, signs, goods, currency, all pass from one man to another or suffer the penalty of relapsing into the incestuous and  exclusively endogamous ties that would paralyze all commerce”
The nature of relationship amongst men in the economic sphere is thus described as homosexual and all heterosexual relationships in the male economy are called pretentious. It is because if homosexuality was to be acknowledged in the sexual realm that would mean complete exclusion of women. And if women were to be excluded there will be nobody to exercise dominance on, leading to the rupture of the patriarchal society. Irigaray terms this the”Sovereign authority of pretense”. Adiga’s ‘White Tiger’ is an embodiment of Irigaray’s theory where the female characters only seem to be placed in the text to keep the men from transgressing the boundaries of heteronormativity. The master -servant relationship between Ashok and Balram places them in homosocial context that ask them to explore same sex desire, not necessarily sexual, but are kept from transgressing by the dramatic difference in their socioeconomic status and heteronormative placement throughout the text.

‘Queer’ categorises all behaviour that transgresses the norms of the patriarchal society as we know it. Dean and Lane write,
“Rather than offering a politics based on individual identity, this school of thought advocates a politics based on resistance to all norms—a politics that connects gender and sexual oppression to racial discrimination, class inequities, ethnic hierarchies, and national chauvinism. Espousing a far-reaching politics suspicious of all norms,this strand of queer theory divorces sexuality from identity”
Throughout the epistolary novel, Balram depicts his attempts to win Ashok’s approval and affection. Balram is drawn to Ashok the first time itself when he sees him on the balcony and he immediately knows “this will be my master”. The desire for companionship displayed by Balram is unmatched by the desire for companionship of any male character for a female. The male desire for intimacy with a female is “less authentic” (Fernando Sanchez) than Balram’s desire for an intimate relationship with a male character. When Pinky Madam leaves Ashok, his older brother, Mukesh, decisively informs him about the need for him to remarry soon. The remarriage is necessitated because otherwise Ashok and the family will loose agency in the society. It is because as Pinky left, she exercised her agency and if Ashok stays unmarried it will be a display of the power the woman holds over him. The remarriage is not out of a desire for spiritual or sexual companionship and hence only instrumental and not authentic. Irigaray points out how the patriarchal society would never want to go back to “red blood relationships” because as soon as women enter the realm they will loose power.

En route from Dhanbad to Delhi when Ashok wishes to drive, he exchanges seats with Balram and there is a moment of  shared physical intimacy where ashok’s stuble rubs on Balram’s cheek. Balram takes in the scent of Ashok’s aftershave and describes the scent as “fruitlike” and “deliscious”. He never refers to the perfume of Pinky or Uma the same way. He in fact detests Uma’s perfume perhaps because Ashok knowingly transgresses the normative marriage and also seeks companionship in her instead of him. It is almost as if Balram feels it to be his duty to keep Ashok from straying.
“On the way back, the two of them were talking at the top of their voices; and then the petting and kissing began. My God, and he a man who was still lawfully married to another woman! I was so furious that I drove right through four red lights, and almost smashed into an oxcart that was going down the road with a load of kerosene cans, but they never noticed”
The Mongoose’s command, “Don’t do this, Ashok,” as he notices Ashok putting himself in his driver’s place is as much a condemnation of the master crossing over to the role of servant as it is of Ashok developing a boundary- less relationship with Balram—one where the two men can empathize with each other through smell, taste, touch, and sight. Balram’s description of the Mongoose as an “old-school master” who “knew right from wrong” confirms the immorality of same-sex intimacy’s permeable borders because not only will it destroy the master-servant hierarchy but also threaten patriarchy. The condemnation of this companionship is firstly, because internalisation of power by the subject is important to maintain hierarchy. A companionship between them will threaten the socio-economic hierarchy. Secondly, if traces of queer desire are not immediately contained then it will threaten the patriarchal structure of the society. If homosexuality is practiced in society then the penis becomes a point of pleasure and the phallus comes under the danger of loosing power. Irigaray points out how it is necessary for sustaining the patriarchal capitalist structure that men be excluded from the realms of pleasure and only concentrate on trade while pleasure should be left to women because they are assumed unfit for seriousness.

Balram’s selfhood is constantly negated when Pinky and Ashok make jokes at his expense for their amusement. Or the time when he was eager to comfort his master when Pinky left and he saw Ashok lift his hand and prepared for its touch but he wrapped his hand around the Mongoose instead and to add to the negation says “I had nothing but this driver in front of me for five nights. Now at last I have someone real by my side: you”. Balram’s sense of betrayal is increased manifold when he sees that Ashok does not interrupt once when Pinky almost ran him over. He  forgives him on account of his drunkenness and later he is more amused by the shared understanding between himself and Ashok when the accident occurs rather than taken aback by the accident itself. The subaltern understands the one in power in a stark contrast. Though when Ashok does not consider informing Balram that the later in fact will not be going to jail for taking the blame of the accident, Balram’s sense of negation is increased manifold. It is this constant negation of his identity that causes him to want to shout “Balram is here too!” when he is walking around the President’s house listening to important men make important decisions.In the end, Balram is willing to suffer through the painful consequences of his admission of guilt for a single moment of intimate contact free of verbal or physical violence—a moment, which, were it to exist, would threaten to dissolve long-established dichotomies. Fernando Sanchez writes,
“The relationship that the two men [Balram and Ashok] have with each other can not be seen  as “loving” by any means. My point is to show that historically, it has been difficult to describe or to explore a power relation between two men as in any way queer.”

Sanchez says the using of  women as a conduit to encourage male heterosexuality is not new. He brings to notice,Supurna Bhaskaran’s  details in ‘Made in India: Decolonizations, Queer Sexualities,Trans/National Projects’- there was a constant fear by the British in India during colonization that the men stationed there would succumb to homosexuality without the presence of their wives or any other avenues for sexual release. She writes, “A popular cure for men (both Indian and British, civilians and soldiers) who might deviate from normative sexuality or ‘pukka-ness,’ was sending them to female prostitutes”. Adiga similarly pays little or no attention to the role of women in neoliberal Indian society. The female exists only to elide same sex relationships and making heterosexuality normal. The prostitutes become a means through which the men can channel their sexuality foregrounding the prevention of same sex exploration. There is a hint of homosexuality when Vitiligo Lips suggests the alternative of male prostitutes for Ashok but it is is no way materialised or approved and is only seen as carnal.

Queer still remains a term of abuse and not all those whose orientations we may regard as queer will identity with the word. Sarah Ahmed articulates what Adiga displays in the text-
“The word (or at least one interpretation of it) speaks to both the desire for same-sexintimacy embedded in these non-sexual moments, as well as the oppressive nature of the social frame in which they occur. In this way, same-sex desire for intimacy can coexist with sexual attraction to other opposite-sex characters”
The same sex desire for intimacy or sexual attraction is however condemned by the text  to exist on its own because it will rupture the patriarchal capitalist society. This becomes evident in the negation of the agency of the women  who only function under surveillance and exist only to further the heterosexual relationship through which the men uphold their dominance in the society.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:
-Irigray, Luce. When the Goods Get Together. Literary Theory: An Analogy. 1988. Print
-Sanchez, Fernado. Queer transgressions: Same-sex Desire and Trans gendered representations in Arvind Adiga’s The White Tiger. Transcripts 2, 2012. Web.

Submitted by:
Sreoshi Bagchi
677
English Hons.., Third year.

 

 

One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967) by Gabriel Garcia Marquez was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1982 “….in which the fantastic and the realistic are combined in a richly composed world of imagination, reflecting a continent’s life and conflicts”.

Marquez portrays the afflictions and woes of women where he exposes the patriarchal and stereotypical representation of women and on the other hand, gives us a ”heightened understanding of their inherent worth and roles in society”. Through a women-centered understanding of the book, I will commend on the roles of women in my essay.

We understand that, feminism is a political movement demanding for the “status, rights and desires of women to be taken into consideration”. Peter Barry points out that the Anglo-Americans treat literature as representation of women’s lives and experiences. This kind of debates and criticisms put into use social history to highlight the cause as provided by Marquez in representing Macondo village with close resemblances to his native place, Columbia and where he draws the chronicle of the Buendia family.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez tries to reflect the reality of the role of women in Latin America and portrays women characters with strong qualities who performs important roles in family affairs. As a critic points out, each woman has her own past, her own quirks and her own version of normality, but they all have one common characteristic: an absolute force, a superior personal strength. When the novel starts off, the “youthful patriarch” Jose Arcadio Buendia is shown as a strong character but eventually transforms into a nothingness and a lazy person. When Jose went “crazy”, Ursula Iguaran, his wife, who’s “capacity for work was the same as that of her husband” would not lose sense of the reality and becomes a responsible person for the family. When the family is affected by insomnia, she acts as the “nurturer” “…who had learned from her mother the medicinal value of plants, prepared and made them all drink a brew of monkshood..”. In an interview Gabriel Garcia Marquez once said, “…in most cases, women are the practical sex. It’s men who are the romantics and who go off and do all kinds of crazy things; women know that life is hard. Ursula is a prototype of that kind of practical, life-sustaining woman.”

By deconstructing the role of gender, men who claims to be superior and represent the stereotypical machismo of Latin America and seems unaffected by societal norms, tend to be, on a deeper understanding, just like women affected by normative gender roles. While some critics perceives the male characters in the novel as the dominant ones. These views echo the traditional and stereotypical roles performed by the division in labor where the male characters take part in wars, scholarly activities and are allowed to travel around the world while the female characters remain within the domestic sphere and looks after the family and home as a responsible wife and mother. Gender theory has tried to decipher these conventions mainly in second- and third-wave feminism’s critique based on the performance of the gender roles.

Referring to an instance in the novel, right after Ursula’s son, Jose Arcadio, runs away with the gypsies, Ursula is the one who chases after him, leaving behind her newborn baby Amaranta at home. Her husband, Jose Arcadio Buendia, diapers the baby, takes her to the village women to be nursed four times a day, and sings her to sleep. After five months Ursula returns home after discovering the route in the jungle which her husband was unable to. She arrived “rejuvenated” and with “new clothes”. With this reversal of roles, Marquez is able to break free the shackles of the stereotypes of the Latin American culture and the societal constructions around it.

Just like Pilar Ternera and Ursula, Fernanda del Carpio, who is the wife of Aureliano Segundo fits into the “gender paradigm”. Upon her arrival in the Buendia household, she takes charge of the daily household routine and begins to change the atmosphere of the house. Fernanda’s “discarding of tradition” marks her as a rebellious figure. Amaranta, Ursula’s daughter has the most distinct character. She is able to predict her own death and has premonitions of the future, just like her mother and Pilar Ternira and dies a virgin. Remedies the Beauty is the paragon of virtue with a sense of innocence and is the most desirable to the men in their village.

The breakdown of women’s character like Rebeca, who is the adopted daughter of Ursula, has a habit of putting “handful of earth in her pockets and ate them in small bits, without being seen” calls for a psychological problem to be dealt within the realm of her psyche and her inability to handle herself. This also describes the mental conditions of women maneuvered by dominations and looking for respite at oddity.

Several of the Buendia men are sexually voracious and have a habit of going to the local brothels every now and then. The novel explores female sexuality who “have unconventional relationships with men and who deviate from society’s standards of sexual behavior”. Petra Cortes and Pilar Ternera is an example of a sexually liberated woman. They comparatively are happier than the women who doesn’t indulge in sexual activities in the novel.

Thus, the woman in the early 20th century were placed in a patriarchal society where men were always superior to women. But with variations ”the dominant hegemonies as structures can be re-written and deprived of their power”. Hence, in the Macondo village, as a critic Irvine D.S. Winsboro said ”for their part, the Buendia woman are continually concerned with keeping the family together in a dynastic sense. They are stern, naive, and sometimes sexually wanton but generally they are the mothers and custodians of the Buendia male line”.

Nokdyamen (947)

BIBLIOGRAPHY

  1. Barry, Peter, Beginning theory: An Introduction To Literary And Cultural Theory 3rd edition, Manchester University Press, 2009.
  2. García Márquez, Gabriel. One Hundred Years of Solitude, London Penguin, 1996.
  3. academia.edu/ influence and power of women in One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
  4. Garcia Marquez, Gabriel. ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’. Ed. by Harold bloom. Chelsea House Publishers, 2003.
  5. http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/1982.
  6. Arejola- Billanes, Lorna. ‘Images of women in the selected novels of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’

Not Without My Daughter

‘Not Without My Daughter’
– Betty Mahmoody

The text is based on the real life story of its writer Betty Mahmoody, born in 1945 in Alma, Michigan,  who is an American and gets married to an American-Iranian doctor and after seven years of their married life her husband asks her to go for a two week vacation to his native place, Tehran along with their four year old daughter, Mahtob after facing racial criticism at his work. However, once the two weeks were over, he refused to allow them to leave. Betty and her daughter had become virtual prisoners of a man who had rededicated himself to the Shiite Islamic faith.

The story revolves around Betty’s struggle to get her and her daughter smuggled out of Iran where her husband and her child’s father had become their ‘master’ involving  an 18-month tour of terror in which she lived.
Betty, although reluctant at first, is persuaded to undertake the trip to Iran and there she is told that they will never return to the states. She immediately leaves for the U.S. Embassy for help and finds that although she has the legal right to leave the country, she cannot take her daughter and returns to the home that she must now share with the relatives. Trapped and unhappy she is treated badly by both her husband and his family. She is beaten and locked inside her room for days. She is made to watch how her daughter is scolded and punished at the school that she is required to attend. Betty and Mahtob must learn to survive in a country where she knows nothing of the language, customs or laws. A country where women are treated merely as non-living objects and are deprived of any kind of rights, including their own child’s custody.

The text gives rise to the relationship between women and Islam in Islamic countries which has become even more acute after more than twenty years of Islamic revolution in Iran. Reflecting on the subordination of women in the Islamic countries, some feminist researchers hold that Islam could be defined as one of the worst sorts of patriarchal religion, oppressing women and legitimizing gender inequality. The idea of patriarchy is much more greater in Islam than any other country, for instance, Betty cannot go out of the country without her husband’s written permission. Also, the custody of the child lies with the father after the parents get divorced. This upper hand of men in the society could also be seen in the instance when Betty reveals to Moody’s relatives about how Moody swore on the Quran and promised her that they won’t stay there for more than two weeks, the family starts cursing her instead. She is beaten in front of her ward and the school employees for being late to school.

Liljestrom, a Swedish sociologist, explains that there is a fundamental difference between Islam and Christianity in their attitudes to sexuality, which influences the view on women (1984, p. 10). She points out that the Christian Church attacks sexuality in itself. Sexuality is reduced to something “profane and sinful”, sexuality signifies the division of human beings into body and soul. Civilization represents the soul’s victory over the body, spirit over the flesh, and diligence over lust.  Islam takes a different approach. It never repudiates sexuality as such. In fact sex is a taste of paradise.  But Islam attacks women instead. As the living carrier of the danger of sexuality and its infinite social destructive forces, women have to be controlled. Sexuality itself is not dangerous since it is the foretaste of paradise that leads men to Allah (Sabbah, 1984).

The different views on the nature of sexuality have resulted in separate strategies of control within Christianity and Islam.

Since Islam regards women as an active sexual power, it is important to restrict women’s sexual power over men. The result is isolating women and men in different worlds. A woman’s sexuality has to be concealed. Her looks and behavior must not reveal her sexual force since it will remind the man of his weakness. Fatima Mernessi, a famous Arab feminist, explained a long time ago that the Christian portrayal of the individual as tragically torn between two poles (good and evil, flesh and spirit, instinct and reason) is very different from that of Islam, which has a more sophisticated theory of the instincts, more akin to the Freudian concept of the libido.

She writes:
“In western culture, sexual inequality is based on the belief in the biological inferiority of woman. In Islam, it is the contrary: the whole system is based on the assumption that woman is a powerful and dangerous being. All sexual institutions (polygamy, repudiation, sexual segregation, etc.) can be perceived as a strategy for constraining her power.”

‘Not Without my Daughter’ reflects more a Western view of Muslim women than the realities of women’s lives in Islamic societies. It is this discourse which Edward Said calls “Orientalism.” In Orientalism, the Orient is created. The Orient is thus a linguistic, discursive creation, rather than a place to which one can travel or in which one can live. The Orient of Orientalism serves a dual function. It affirms the concept of the superiority of the West, and defines West’s normality by regulating the abnormal, forbidden, and dangerous to the Orient.

In Iran after the revolution, the family protection law as reprieved and declared incompatible with the canon of Islamic laws. Consequently, the right to polygamous marriage was once again restored. The minimum age for women marriage fell from 18 to 13. The legal rights of women in application for divorce and custody of children were severely curtailed. The civil law makes it clear that the marriage of a girl is dependent upon the consent of her father or grandfather. Articles 1117 and 54 declare that married women can only accept jobs that are not incompatible with her responsibilities as a wife. Otherwise, she needs permission from her husband. Article 1133, states that a man can divorce at any time he wishes, while a woman can request divorce only for “exceptional reasons.”

Betty’s non-fiction revolves around how she fought her own husband for her own freedom, for some basic rights that every individual deserves but is deprived of in some parts of the world. She finally manages to escape with her daughter and starts her journey to the states indicating that women are not the weaker sex and can do all they need to when it comes to their own identity.

-Pooja Madan
795
Sec-B