Question 1: Discuss the woman’s point of view by referring to texts written by women. What are their themes and concerns?
Ans: The origin of Indian writing in English by women can be traced back to the last quarter of the 19th Century. This emergence is an important milestone for feminism in India. Access to English education was one of the main reasons of modernisation of the thinking of Indian women. The broad scope for higher education inspired women to pursue English education, which made a visible impact on the status of women. Indian women came in contact with the Western culture, ideas, philosophy, literature and movements that were appealing and thought-provoking. They got an opportunity to express their Indianness in the newly acquired English language.
Indian writing in English is now gaining ground rapidly. In the realm of fiction, it has heralded a new era and has earned many laurels both at home and abroad. Indian women writers have started questioning the prominent old patriarchal domination. They are no longer puppets in the hands of man. They have shown their worth in the field of literature both qualitatively and quantitatively and are showing it even today without any hurdle.
There were not as many women writers during the initial stage. Their writings help the reader to have an insight into the female psyche and understand the feelings and aspirations of women in the changing society.
Mahashweta Devi’s writings: Referring to Mahashweta Devi’s story ‘Salt’ the point of view and concerns of women writers change along with the contemporary situtaion. In her story ‘Salt’ Devi represents the plight of the tribals who were deprived of the arable forest land by the Hindu traders who came there after the Kole Revolt of 1831. Exploitation ¡s the major theme of this story, highlighting the predicament of the innocent tribals who are taken advantage by everyonewho are in a position of power. One of Mahasweta’s major concerns,in her fiction as well as in her activist writings, is the denial of land rights to tribals. In her essay “The Slaves of Palamau” (1983), she describes the disastrous effects of “development” ¡n the Palamau area: “At one time the district boasted of great jungles. Today, the jungles are largely destroyed and the district can be described as dry upland” (11). She recounts the growth of the bonded labour system in the region, after the downtrodden people’s revolt . . . .against the British and the jagirdars was crushed in 1857.
Anita Desai’s Writings: Anita Desai, the other great novelist of the Indian English fiction. She holds a unique place among the contemporary women novelists of India. Desai’s women characters in her novels rebel against patriarchal community in order to explore their own potential or to live on their own terms, regardless of the consequences that such a rebellion may have on their lives. They take the position of outsiders to fight and criticize those cultural ideologies that come in their way of becoming free individuals, self – chosen withdrawal, for these women, takes on the form a weapon for survival in a patriarchal community. Desai’s women, thus, want freedom within the community of men and women , as it is the only way that will succeed in fulfilling them In fact, Desai’s model of an emancipated woman , Bimala in the novel Clear Light Of Day, is an unmarried
woman. Her married women characters like Maya in Cry, a Peacock, Monisha in ,The City, Nanda in Fire in the Mountain, and Sita in Where Shall We Go This Summer? Become depressed, violent or self-destructive. They either lose their sanity or kill others, or they kill or destroy themselves. The nemesis of these women is not a private one but an outgrowth of the complex social context, immediate family environments and the relationships with their men. Many of
Desai’s protagonists are portrayed as single women. Desai does not neglect the institution of marriage or support alienation from society. Some of her women characters, like Tara in ‘Clear Light of Day’, do achieve fulfilment in their marriages Instead, through Bimala, Desai points to a kind of feminist emancipation that lies in not limiting women to their traditional roles but in expanding and awakening them to several other possibilities. Their kind of life, apart from being invigorating, also frees them from dependence on men.
Arundhati Roy’s Writings: The other famous and renowned novelist under the study is Arundhati Roy, born in 1961 in Bengal. Arundhati grew up in Kerala. She believes that, “A feminist is a woman who negotiates herself into a position where she has choices.’’ The International community knows Arundhati Roy as an artist with her debut novel The God of Small Things.’ Roy’s major essays ‘The End of Imagination’ and ‘The Greater common good’ . Arundhati has never admitted that she is a feminist but ‘The God of Small Things’, reveals at many places her feminist stance and her protagonist represent feminine sensibility. Roy seems to be iconoclast in,’ The God of Small Things’. The stylistic innovations make the novel unique and bring vitality and exuberance to the novel. The novel is unique in every aspect and it is a linguistic experiment with the English language. The stylistic writings include the use of words, phrases and even sentences from vernacular language, use of italics, subject less sentences, faulty spellings ,topicalisation, deviation from normal word order, single word ’sentences,’ change of word classes, clustering of word classes and a variety of other techniques. She has given prominence to ecology and subalternity as the major themes in the novel. Roy’s close observations and the minute aspects in the creation of her literary skills are observed in her other works. Her two important articles on the internet are’ The end of Imagination’ and ‘The Greater Common Good.’ In the End of Imagination, Roy criticises nuclear policies of the Government of India. Arundhati Roy foretells the harmful consequences of nuclear weapons on human beings and ecology in the End of Imagination.
This shows that women writers have gone up from difficult to tribal and rural areas too, but all of them have expressed their concern for women and their problems. The variety of subjects, they have touched upon is a great contribution in creating awareness for the modern women all over the globe. The variety of subjects handled by them considering Indian environment needs an appreciation. Some of the writers have not claimed that they belong to feminist’s movement yet their writings suggest that their inner spirit and feelings are for the welfare of the women only.