Uma's seizures represent all of the nonconformist characteristics that make Uma
different from the rest of her family and society. From an early age, Uma fails to meet her family and society's standards of self-restraint, passivity, beauty, and femininity. When trying to escape back to her convent school, Uma has her first seizure just after Mother Agnes
tells Uma that she can do nothing to fight MamaPapa
on the matter of her education. Mama
blames the convent school for causing Uma's epilepsy, and then uses the incident as further justification for keeping Uma at home and out of school. Uma is as helpless to her seizures as she is to her family's decision to deny her education. She is equally helpless to the trouble her parents have in finding her a husband who wants her. When her younger sister Aruna
marries, Uma has a seizure at the cocktail party the night before. Aruna blames Uma for ruining the party, as if Uma had done it on purpose. Aruna's anger at Uma's seizure mimics the cruelty of Uma's family blaming her for not managing to catch a husband. When Uma runs off with Mira-masi to the ashram
, she has another seizure—yet this time, Mira-masi
and the other pilgrims respond very differently. Rather than shaming Uma, they revere her as someone sacred, chosen by the Lord Shiva. Their response to her seizure reflects their acceptance of her generally—she is allowed to be herself at the ashram, to wander freely and without judgment. Mainstream society, as represented by her family, has no place for her. Yet religious devotees and others who form the outcasts of society are able to see what is special and unique about Uma's way of thinking and existing.