International Journal For Multidisciplinary Research
A Widely Indexed Open Access Peer Reviewed Multidisciplinary Bi-monthly Scholarly International Journal
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Volume 6 Issue 1
Anita Desai’s Fasting, Feasting: Gender and Social Roles
Anita Desai’s tenth novel, Fasting, Feasting deals with themes of deprivation, abundance and being trapped in society's claims. It also deals with male and female roles in two completely different cultures, Indian and American cultures. The contrast in the novel can be understood from the novel’s title. The pressures and expectations placed on the different characters in the novel show the contrast in the social roles men and women are expected to fulfill, both in India and in the United States. While men are expected to be hard working, academic, and successful, the social value of women is dependent on their submissiveness, domestic abilities, beauty and child bearing. Aruna and Uma are raised, educated, and groomed only with marriage in mind. When the multiple attempts of MamaPapa to arrange a marriage for Uma fail, it becomes Uma’s job to take care of her baby brother, Arun, and later her aging parents. Mama’s identity is tied in with her role as the wife of an important man, and she seldom disagrees with him. Anamika meets the social expectations of female submission—yet, abused to death, Anamika experiences the ultimate loss of freedom that threatens all women who are forced to fulfill the feminine ideal. Dr. Dutt and Mira-masi both represent women who, independent of family and men, defy female social roles. Men also lose their free will and individual expression to the social roles they must fill. American society as portrayed in the novel also places gendered expectations onto its members, particularly in regards to male and female beauty. Mrs. Patton, like her daughter Melanie, is burdened by American ideals of female perfection and beauty, which are obsessed with dangerous degrees of thinness and over-tanning. Mr. Patton and Rod similarly fulfill the traditional Macho American stereotype of athleticism and hard work. Like Papa, Mr. Patton assumes passive control over the members of his household. Mrs. Patton, like Mama, appears to have no other identity beyond wife and mother.
|Key Words: Gender expectations, social identity, female submission, social roles etc.
|Sociology > Linguistic / Literature
|Volume 6, Issue 1, January-February 2024
|Anita Desai’s Fasting, Feasting: Gender and Social Roles - CHILKA. ANITA - IJFMR Volume 6, Issue 1, January-February 2024. DOI 10.36948/ijfmr.2024.v06i01.11871
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