Fasting, Feasting

Papa Character Analysis

Papa is a proud, yet insecure middle-class legal magistrate, the husband of Mama and the father of Uma, Aruna and Arun. Papa grew up in great poverty, and delights in reminding his children that he worked very hard in school to climb the social ladder and make a better life for himself and his family. Threatened by modern ideas of women's liberation, Papa is content to allow Mama to wait on him and obey his requests. Yet, he supports Mama's authority before his children, and the two have a complicit, cooperative marriage. Papa ignores people and ideas who challenge his authority, such as Dr. Dutt and, on occasion, Mama. After his retirement, he dedicates his energies to acting as an academic drill sergeant for Arun, forcing him through school and college. He habitually criticizes and neglects Uma, particularly her physical needs.

Papa Quotes in Fasting, Feasting

The Fasting, Feasting quotes below are all either spoken by Papa or refer to Papa. 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 numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Houghton Mifflin edition of Fasting, Feasting published in 2000.
Chapter 1 Quotes

MamaandPapa. MamaPapa. PapaMama. It was hard to believe they had ever been separate existences, that they had been separate entities and not MamaPapa in one breath.

Related Characters: Mama, Papa
Page Number: 5
Explanation and Analysis:

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One could be forgiven for thinking Papa’s chosen role was scowling, Mama’s scolding. Since every adult had to have a role, and these were their parents’, the children did not question their choices. At least, not during their childhoods.

Related Characters: Mama, Papa
Page Number: 9
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 2 Quotes

No doors were ever shut in that household: closed doors meant secrets, nasty secrets, impermissible. It meant authority would come stalking in and make a search to seize upon the nastiness, the unclean blot.

Related Characters: Mama, Papa
Page Number: 15
Explanation and Analysis:

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Mama was frantic to have it terminated. She had never been more ill (…) but Papa set his jaws. They had two daughters, yes, quite grown-up as anyone could see, but there was no son. Would any man give up the chance of a son?

Related Characters: Mama, Papa
Page Number: 16
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 3 Quotes

More than ever now, she was Papa’s helpmeet, his consort. He had not only made her his wife, he had made her the mother of his son (…) Was this love? Uma wondered disgustedly, was this romance? Then she sighed, knowing such concepts had never occurred to Mama: she did not read, she did not go to the cinema.

Related Characters: Uma (speaker), Mama, Papa
Page Number: 31
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 12 Quotes

She sloshes some milk into the coffee. ‘Rosebuds. Wild Waltz. Passionately,’ she screams at them silently. She tosses in the sugar. ‘Madly. Vows. Fulfill,’ her silence roars at them. She clatters a spoon around the cup, spilling some milk into the saucer, and thrusts it at Papa. ‘Here,’ her eyes flash through her spectacles, ‘this, this is what I know. And you, you don’t.’

Related Characters: Uma (speaker), Mama, Papa
Page Number: 137
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 19 Quotes

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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Papa Character Timeline in Fasting, Feasting

The timeline below shows where the character Papa 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
...and still unmarried, at home in India in the summer, taking orders from Mama and Papa, (or MamaPapa, as she thinks of them). At first, they are instructing her with great... (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 struggles to remember a time when MamaPapa had 'separate existences'. She recalls that Mama and Papa have offered few memories of their... (full context)
Gender and Social Roles Theme Icon
Family Life and Individual Freedom Theme Icon
Loneliness and Togetherness Theme Icon
Uma remembers the only example of Mama having a separate life from Papa as being when Uma was young and Papa was still working as an attorney, and... (full context)
Gender and Social Roles Theme Icon
Plenty/"Feasting" vs. Want/"Fasting" Theme Icon
Tradition/India vs. Modernity/West Theme Icon
Uma recalls that in Papa's younger days when he played tennis, he made a very serious ceremony about having the... (full context)
Chapter 2
Gender and Social Roles Theme Icon
Plenty/"Feasting" vs. Want/"Fasting" Theme Icon
Tradition/India vs. Modernity/West Theme Icon
Still in the modern-day, and Papa has had his car driven up to the front of the house. He declares that... (full context)
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
...pregnancy is painful, and she wishes she could terminate it. But with just two daughters, Papa wants a son. So Mama feels she has no choice but to go through with... (full context)
Chapter 3
Gender and Social Roles Theme Icon
Tradition/India vs. Modernity/West Theme Icon
...in India. Uma’s mother tells her to pass the fruit bowel to her father, but Papa remains still and silent and does not take it. Mama interprets this silence as his... (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, his progress, and... (full context)
Chapter 4
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
Loneliness and Togetherness Theme Icon
In the modern day, Mama and Papa have left home to attend a wedding. With few chances to be home alone, the... (full context)
Gender and Social Roles Theme Icon
Family Life and Individual Freedom Theme Icon
Tradition/India vs. Modernity/West Theme Icon
...the country, visiting different relatives and different Hindu temples. Uma loves Mira-Masi’s visits, even though MamaPapa disapprove of Mira-Masi’s traveling lifestyle, her vegetarianism, and her “old-fashioned” religious devotion. Uma recalls curling... (full context)
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
Mira-Masi carefully cooks her food separately in her own stone oven outside, and while MamaPapa frown, Uma feels honored if Mira-Masi lets her help in her food preparation. Every evening,... (full context)
Chapter 5
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
...rebellious cousin Ramu surprises the family with a visit after adventuring at sea. Mama and Papa are unhappy to see Ramu, for this son of Lila Aunty and Bakul Uncle is... (full context)
Gender and Social Roles Theme Icon
Family Life and Individual Freedom Theme Icon
...Arun, a young boy at the time. Ramu tells Uma that he has come on Papa and Mama’s instructions to reclaim her, for she has stayed much longer than they expected,... (full context)
Chapter 6
Gender and Social Roles Theme Icon
Family Life and Individual Freedom Theme Icon
In the modern day, the local jeweler has come to MamaPapa’s house to show his spread before Mama and Uma, as he does every year. He... (full context)
Chapter 7
Gender and Social Roles Theme Icon
Family Life and Individual Freedom Theme Icon
Tradition/India vs. Modernity/West Theme Icon
MamaPapa respond to an ad in the newspaper for a family looking for a bride for... (full context)
Chapter 8
Gender and Social Roles Theme Icon
Family Life and Individual Freedom Theme Icon
Loneliness and Togetherness Theme Icon
...danger. Back in time, marriage proposals flood in for Aruna, but Uma’s unmarried state keeps MamaPapa from pursuing them. Aware of her own appeal, Aruna begins to act with greater confidence... (full context)
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
MamaPapa make a last effort at marrying Uma off. The old man from the newspaper ad... (full context)
Chapter 9
Family Life and Individual Freedom Theme Icon
Plenty/"Feasting" vs. Want/"Fasting" Theme Icon
Loneliness and Togetherness Theme Icon
Uma is at home alone in the modern day, while MamaPapa are out at a bridge game. Rarely by herself, Uma enjoys the opportunity to go... (full context)
Gender and Social Roles Theme Icon
Plenty/"Feasting" vs. Want/"Fasting" Theme Icon
Loneliness and Togetherness Theme Icon
...optometrist, who says she has a bad condition and must see a specialist in Bombay. Papa gets angry and says that the doctor in their town should be good enough. Later,... (full context)
Chapter 10
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
Loneliness and Togetherness Theme Icon
...to a coffee party thrown by Mrs. O’Henry, the Baptist missionary she admires. Mama and Papa say there is no good reason for Uma to go. Uma argues that Mama and... (full context)
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 has a series of tutors hired to... (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 to keep up with... (full context)
Family Life and Individual Freedom Theme Icon
Plenty/"Feasting" vs. Want/"Fasting" Theme Icon
Loneliness and Togetherness Theme Icon
...the Christmas bazaar to help Mrs. Henry run her Christmas booth. Against the complaints of MamaPapa, Uma goes, and she describes the entire event as heaven. The paper crafts, the treats,... (full context)
Chapter 12
Family Life and Individual Freedom Theme Icon
Plenty/"Feasting" vs. Want/"Fasting" Theme Icon
After MamaPapa have Uma write the letter to Arun, they begin ordering Uma to do many chores... (full context)
Gender and Social Roles Theme Icon
Family Life and Individual Freedom Theme Icon
Tradition/India vs. Modernity/West Theme Icon
Dr. Dutt comes to visit Uma’s house. Papa disapproves of Dr. Dutt as an unmarried woman with her own career, but because of... (full context)
Chapter 13
Family Life and Individual Freedom Theme Icon
Plenty/"Feasting" vs. Want/"Fasting" Theme Icon
Loneliness and Togetherness Theme Icon
...and Bakul Uncle do not speak, or eat; they only look down, while Mama and Papa try to cheer them up and to arrange everything. Uma cannot stop thinking about how... (full context)
Chapter 17
Family Life and Individual Freedom Theme Icon
Loneliness and Togetherness Theme Icon
...room to rent for the summer. Just as he begins to get desperate, he receives Papa’s letter in Uma’s handwriting, informing him that Mrs. Patton has offered her home to him... (full context)