Fasting, Feasting

Arun Character Analysis

Arun is the quiet, introverted baby brother of Uma, and the youngest child of Mama and Papa. From Arun's birth, Mama and Papa proudly invest all of their hopes and dreams into Arun, smothering him with attention and forcing him to study until he has no energy left. To the disappointment of his parents, who value meat-eating and physical strength in males as signs of wealth and progress, Arun is a vegetarian who shows no athletic prowess. Prodded along by his father, Arun lethargically flies off to the University in Massachusetts. At college in America, Arun tries to free himself of his family and any other associations that threaten to entangle him. Arun fears being drawn into the judgment and expectations of others, and seeks personal freedom by withdrawing from social interactions and both Indian and American society.

Arun Quotes in Fasting, Feasting

The Fasting, Feasting quotes below are all either spoken by Arun or refer to Arun. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Gender and Social Roles Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Houghton Mifflin edition of Fasting, Feasting published in 2000.
Chapter 16 Quotes

He had at last experienced the total freedom of anonymity, the total absence of relations, of demands, needs, requests, ties, responsibilities, commitments. He was Arun. He had no past, no family, and no country.

Related Characters: Arun
Page Number: 172
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 19 Quotes

No, he had not escaped. He had travelled and he had stumbled into what was like a plastic representation of what he had known at home; not the real thing—which was plain, unbeautiful, misshapen, fraught and compromised—but the unreal thing—clean, bright, gleaming, without taste, savour or nourishment.

Related Characters: Arun
Page Number: 185
Explanation and Analysis:

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When she finally brought herself to tell him that Arun was a vegetarian and she herself had decided to give it a try (…) he reacted by not reacting, as if he had simply not heard, or understood. That, too was something Arun knew and had experience of (…)—his father’s very expression, walking off, denying any opposition, any challenge to his authority…

Related Characters: Arun, Papa, Mrs. Patton, Mr. Patton
Page Number: 186
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 22 Quotes

We don’t sit down to meals like we used to. Everyone eats at different times and wants different meals. We just don’t get to eating together much now that they’re grown. So I just fill the freezer and let them take down what they like, when they like. Keeping the freezer full—that’s my job, Ahroon.

Related Characters: Mrs. Patton (speaker), Arun, Mr. Patton, Melanie, Rod
Page Number: 197
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 23 Quotes

Arun gets out of the way, quickly: one can’t tell what is more dangerous in this country, the pursuit of health or of sickness.

Related Characters: Arun
Page Number: 205
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 25 Quotes

Then Arun does see a resemblance to something he knows: a resemblance to the contorted face of an enraged sister who, failing to express her outrage against neglect, against misunderstanding, against inattention to her unique and singular being and its hungers, merely spits and froths in ineffectual protests.

Related Characters: Uma, Arun
Page Number: 214
Explanation and Analysis:

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But what is plenty? What is not? Can one tell the difference?

Related Characters: Arun (speaker)
Page Number: 214
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 26 Quotes

Now that he is contributing to the din, he begins to feel pleased. Surprisingly, it is due to the water, an element that removes him from his normal self, and opens up another world of possibilities.

Related Characters: Arun
Related Symbols: Water / River
Page Number: 222
Explanation and Analysis:

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They are not the stuff of dreams or even cinema: he is not the hero, nor she the heroine, and what she is crying for, he cannot tell (…) this is a real pain and a real hunger. But what hunger does a person so sated feel?

Related Characters: Arun, Melanie
Page Number: 224
Explanation and Analysis:

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Arun Character Timeline in Fasting, Feasting

The timeline below shows where the character Arun appears in Fasting, Feasting. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Gender and Social Roles Theme Icon
Family Life and Individual Freedom Theme Icon
Plenty/"Feasting" vs. Want/"Fasting" Theme Icon
...how best to instruct Uma to prepare a box of care goods to send to Arun, who is attending University in America. They worry that he has a warm enough sweater,... (full context)
Chapter 2
Gender and Social Roles Theme Icon
Family Life and Individual Freedom Theme Icon
Tradition/India vs. Modernity/West Theme Icon
Loneliness and Togetherness Theme Icon
...flashes back to the past, to Uma's childhood. Uma remembers when Mama became pregnant with Arun, and she recalls this as the only time she noticed a significant discord between her... (full context)
Gender and Social Roles Theme Icon
Family Life and Individual Freedom Theme Icon
Plenty/"Feasting" vs. Want/"Fasting" Theme Icon
Tradition/India vs. Modernity/West Theme Icon
...seems neither aware nor bothered by this. Her grades are failing worse than ever when Arun is born, and when the nuns start sending notes home describing her bad scores, Mama... (full context)
Chapter 3
Gender and Social Roles Theme Icon
Family Life and Individual Freedom Theme Icon
Loneliness and Togetherness Theme Icon
The novel flashes back to Uma’s teenage years, after her baby brother Arun is born. While everyone else is napping during a hot afternoon, Uma runs away from... (full context)
Gender and Social Roles Theme Icon
Family Life and Individual Freedom Theme Icon
Plenty/"Feasting" vs. Want/"Fasting" Theme Icon
Tradition/India vs. Modernity/West Theme Icon
Uma settles into taking care of baby Arun. Mama and Papa attend nervously to Arun’s care, worrying over his diet, his every step,... (full context)
Gender and Social Roles Theme Icon
Plenty/"Feasting" vs. Want/"Fasting" Theme Icon
The story flashes forward briefly a few years, to Arun as a little boy playing in the bushes outside with Uma. She is sneaking unripened... (full context)
Chapter 4
Family Life and Individual Freedom Theme Icon
Plenty/"Feasting" vs. Want/"Fasting" Theme Icon
Tradition/India vs. Modernity/West Theme Icon
Loneliness and Togetherness Theme Icon
...poles, watching Mira-Masi at the temple. One evening, MamaPapa reluctantly allow Mira-Masi to take Uma, Aruna, and Arun with her down to the river for her religious bathing. While MamaPapa have... (full context)
Chapter 5
Gender and Social Roles Theme Icon
Family Life and Individual Freedom Theme Icon
...a month at the ashram, two unexpected visitors turn out to be cousin Ramu and Arun, a young boy at the time. Ramu tells Uma that he has come on Papa... (full context)
Chapter 10
Gender and Social Roles Theme Icon
Family Life and Individual Freedom Theme Icon
Plenty/"Feasting" vs. Want/"Fasting" Theme Icon
Loneliness and Togetherness Theme Icon
The novel flashes to an overview of Arun’s childhood, which centers entirely on school. Papa allows him no rest: All year round, Arun... (full context)
Chapter 11
Gender and Social Roles Theme Icon
Family Life and Individual Freedom Theme Icon
Plenty/"Feasting" vs. Want/"Fasting" Theme Icon
Uma is writing to Arun on behalf of MamaPapa, and Papa criticizes Uma for her slow writing and her inability... (full context)
Chapter 14
Plenty/"Feasting" vs. Want/"Fasting" Theme Icon
Tradition/India vs. Modernity/West Theme Icon
Loneliness and Togetherness Theme Icon
It is summer in the United States now, and Arun is walking alone along a wooded lane in western Massachusetts. He is noticing the houses,... (full context)
Chapter 15
Gender and Social Roles Theme Icon
Family Life and Individual Freedom Theme Icon
Plenty/"Feasting" vs. Want/"Fasting" Theme Icon
Tradition/India vs. Modernity/West Theme Icon
...Patton is outside grilling steaks on a barbecue. He calls the family to eat, and Arun goes looking for Melanie, the Patton’s teenaged daughter, who sits sulkily at the bottom of... (full context)
Chapter 16
Family Life and Individual Freedom Theme Icon
Tradition/India vs. Modernity/West Theme Icon
Loneliness and Togetherness Theme Icon
The novel rewinds to the months preceding the summer, to Arun’s first days at college. He remembers his college dorm for its striking foreignness—the loud music,... (full context)
Chapter 17
Family Life and Individual Freedom Theme Icon
Loneliness and Togetherness Theme Icon
In the months just before Arun’s first summer in America, he realizes he needs to search for summer housing. Having turned... (full context)
Chapter 18
Family Life and Individual Freedom Theme Icon
Tradition/India vs. Modernity/West Theme Icon
Loneliness and Togetherness Theme Icon
Soon after Arun arrives to the Patton house, Mrs. Patton tells Arun that she hears from her sister... (full context)
Chapter 19
Gender and Social Roles Theme Icon
Family Life and Individual Freedom Theme Icon
Plenty/"Feasting" vs. Want/"Fasting" Theme Icon
Mrs. Patton excitedly takes Arun to the grocery store to shop for vegetables. Arun marvels at the huge parking lot... (full context)
Chapter 20
Plenty/"Feasting" vs. Want/"Fasting" Theme Icon
Tradition/India vs. Modernity/West Theme Icon
Loneliness and Togetherness Theme Icon
After dinner the same night, Arun is on his way to his room, when he looks into the den to find... (full context)
Chapter 21
Gender and Social Roles Theme Icon
Family Life and Individual Freedom Theme Icon
Plenty/"Feasting" vs. Want/"Fasting" Theme Icon
Returning from work at the university library, Arun passes Rod, who handsomely jogs by, inviting Arun to join him. Arun turns him down,... (full context)
Chapter 22
Family Life and Individual Freedom Theme Icon
Plenty/"Feasting" vs. Want/"Fasting" Theme Icon
Loneliness and Togetherness Theme Icon
Arun is at the grocery store once again with Mrs. Patton. She is telling him that... (full context)
Chapter 23
Gender and Social Roles Theme Icon
Family Life and Individual Freedom Theme Icon
Plenty/"Feasting" vs. Want/"Fasting" Theme Icon
Tradition/India vs. Modernity/West Theme Icon
Arun is jogging for the first time, so exhausted that he feels sick, through the suburbs... (full context)
Gender and Social Roles Theme Icon
Plenty/"Feasting" vs. Want/"Fasting" Theme Icon
Tradition/India vs. Modernity/West Theme Icon
That night, Melanie is in the bathtub, water running, with her cassette player. Arun is waiting outside because he needs to take a shower. When she finally comes out,... (full context)
Chapter 24
Family Life and Individual Freedom Theme Icon
Plenty/"Feasting" vs. Want/"Fasting" Theme Icon
Loneliness and Togetherness Theme Icon
It is August. Arun comes into the kitchen in the morning, to find Melanie sitting sullenly at the kitchen... (full context)
Gender and Social Roles Theme Icon
Family Life and Individual Freedom Theme Icon
Plenty/"Feasting" vs. Want/"Fasting" Theme Icon
Mrs. Patton announces to Arun that it is time to go shopping again. Arun remarks that maybe they should finish... (full context)
Chapter 25
Family Life and Individual Freedom Theme Icon
Plenty/"Feasting" vs. Want/"Fasting" Theme Icon
Loneliness and Togetherness Theme Icon
Arun comes home the next morning from a trip to the library, to find Mrs. Patton... (full context)
Family Life and Individual Freedom Theme Icon
Plenty/"Feasting" vs. Want/"Fasting" Theme Icon
Loneliness and Togetherness Theme Icon
...and the television. The kitchen gets emptied, and messy, as everyone forages for what’s left. Arun starts staying longer in town, eating sandwiches on park benches, and even seeing movies by... (full context)
Chapter 26
Gender and Social Roles Theme Icon
Family Life and Individual Freedom Theme Icon
Loneliness and Togetherness Theme Icon
On an uncomfortably hot Saturday, Mrs. Patton persuades Arun into coming with her and Melanie to cool off at the swimming pond in the... (full context)
Gender and Social Roles Theme Icon
Plenty/"Feasting" vs. Want/"Fasting" Theme Icon
Loneliness and Togetherness Theme Icon
When Arun emerges from the water, he finds that Melanie is nowhere to be seen, a pile... (full context)
Chapter 27
Gender and Social Roles Theme Icon
Family Life and Individual Freedom Theme Icon
Loneliness and Togetherness Theme Icon
It is autumn, and Arun is packing his bags to return to college. The return of students brings life back... (full context)