Fasting, Feasting


Anita Desai

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Fasting, Feasting: Chapter 20 Summary & Analysis

After dinner the same night, Arun is on his way to his room, when he looks into the den to find Melanie sitting on the sofa, watching TV—commercials, dramatically and enthusiastically advertising everything from car insurance to dental wear. She is eating another bag of salted peanuts. When she sees Arun watching her, she stares him down, with an irritated and threatening look, until he goes away. Later that night, Arun hears noise and looks out his window to see the Patton’s son Rod, eating leftover meat off the grill in the yard. A little while later, he looks out his window to see a raccoon foraging in the garbage. He leaves his bedroom to go outside, and on his way, finds Melanie on the bathroom floor, head over the toilet, throwing up. Her eyes are red and her makeup runs, and she tells him to go away.
After all the effort Mr. Patton put into grilling the steak, the way that everyone in his house gets their dinner that night reflects the inability of the parents to meet the needs of each other and their children. Mrs. Patton nibbled at the steak reluctantly, Arun refused it, Rod came late at night and ate the remnants of the grill, and Melanie ate nothing but junk food, which she forced herself to throw up later. The foraging raccoon that Arun sees eating leftovers in the garbage is a metaphor for the members of the house—they are all foraging, trying to find nourishment through scraps.
Plenty/"Feasting" vs. Want/"Fasting" Theme Icon
Tradition/India vs. Modernity/West Theme Icon
Loneliness and Togetherness Theme Icon