At the heart of many of the character’s stories lies a common search for freedom to be oneself and to carve out one’s own life path. The needs and desires of the individual are in constant tension with the demands of the family, which is the central social institution throughout the novel.
Uma’s desire for freedom is the central example: Constrained by her family’s needs and expectations, Uma yearns to be free, pushing against…(read full theme analysis)
Throughout the novel, we see conflict between old ways, or ‘tradition’ running against new ways, or ‘modernity’. Most frequently, tradition is associated with India/Rural/Home/Extended Family/ Poverty/Fasting and modernity is associated with Western/Urban/Individuality/Commercialism/Feasting.
MamaPapa, from rural, humble roots, hold fast to traditional values, placing less value on daughters’ educations and more value on daughters’ obedience and preparation for marriage. The nuns at the convent and the Christian missionaries represent a western perspective in India that…(read full theme analysis)
The difference between loneliness and being alone is a tension that affects many characters throughout the novel. Loneliness affects many characters—yet, togetherness, especially within families, doesn’t always solve the loneliness of the individual. Balancing the needs for both community and solitude is a constant struggle, especially for Uma and Arun.
Within Indian society, individuals experience mental isolation within tight-knit families. The obligation to maintain a pretense of family harmony is isolating because individuals have…(read full theme analysis)