Fasting, Feasting


Anita Desai

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Fasting, Feasting: Chapter 19 Summary & Analysis

Mrs. Patton excitedly takes Arun to the grocery store to shop for vegetables. Arun marvels at the huge parking lot full of big cars and the pristine rows of brightly packaged foods, and at Mrs. Patton’s expert knowledge of reading packages. At home, Mrs. Patton puts all the food away, and to Arun’s surprise expects him to know what to do with it. He eats the packaged foods she gets unhappily, worrying that he will never break away from the cycle of women trying to mother him in unwanted ways. He feels that the American life is a “plastic representation of what he had known at home.’ When Mrs. Patton finally tells her husband that she is trying vegetarianism, Mr. Patton ignores her, continuing to buy meat and pretend like everyone else will eat it. Arun sees that Mr. Patton, like Arun’s own father, ignores anything that “challenges his authority.”
America seems to Arun like the land of plenty—everywhere he goes, people have more and bigger material possession’s than he’s ever seen. The process of acquiring goods appears to be a big past time; Mrs. Patton is an expert at buying things, but once she brings it all home, she doesn’t turn her purchases into food. America has all the same basic staples as India– food, family, home—but in America, it’s all packaging with nothing nourishing. Mr. Patton’s reaction to Mrs. Patton shows his inability to accept his wife’s right to make her own choices. Even in America, men can still assert their will over women.
Gender and Social Roles Theme Icon
Family Life and Individual Freedom Theme Icon
Plenty/"Feasting" vs. Want/"Fasting" Theme Icon
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