INDIVIDUAL AND SOCIETY IN THE NOVELS OF MANJU KAPUR Manju Kapur has joined the growing number of women writers from India, like Shashi Despande, Arundhati Roy, Githa Hariharan, Shobba De On whom the image of the suffering but stoic women eventually breaking traditional boundaries has had, a significant impact. They invigorated the English language to suit representations and narration of what they felt about their women and their lives in post modern India. In a culture where individualism and prated have often remained alien ideas and marital bless and the women’s role at home is a central focus. These modern-day women authors are now expressing themselves freely and boldly and on a variety of themes without adopting feminist postures. Manju Kapur’s novels acquire a significant new meaning when read in the point of view of crisscross dogmas of cultural critical thinking. Manju Kapur’s novels furnish examples of a whole range of attitudes towards the importation of tradition. However, Mrs. Kapur seems aware of the fact that the women of India have indeed achieved their success in sixty years of Independence, but if there is to be a true female independence, too much remains to be done. The conflict for autonomy and separate identity remains and unfinished combat. Women under the patriarchal pressure and control were, subjected too much more burnts and social ostracism. They were discriminated and were biased in lien of their sex. The life women Lived and struggled under the oppressive mechanism of a closed society were reflected in the novels of Manju Kapur. Taking into account the complexity of life, different histories, cultures and different structures of values, the women’s question, despite basic solidarity needs to be tackled in relation to the socis-cultural situation. The impact of patriarchy on the Indian Society varies from the one in the west. Manju Kapur has her own concerns, priorities as well as their own ways of dealing with the predicament of their women protagonists. My purpose is to study individual and society in the novels of Manju Kapur. I have taken three novels of Manju Kapur entitled “Difficult Daughters Married Woman and Home” for this purpose. JUSTIFICATION Manju Kapur’s female protagonists are mostly educated, aspiring individual caged with in the confines of a conservative society. Their education leads them to independent thinking for which their family and society become intolerant of them. They struggle between tradition and modernity. It is their individual struggle with family and society through which they plunged into a dedicated effort to carve an identity for themselves as qualified women with faultless backgrounds. The novelist has portrayed her protagonists as a woman caught in the conflict between the passions of the flesh and a yearning to be a part of the political and intellectual movements of the day. MANJU KAPUR LIFE & WORKS Manju Kapur teaches English literature at Miranda House College, Delhi University. Her first novel ‘Difficult Daughters’ received huge international acclaim. This novel was published in 1998. Her second novel ‘A Married Women’ was published in 2002. Her third novel ‘Home’ was published in 2006. ‘Difficult Daughters’ was awarded the Commonwealth Writers Prize for the best first book (Eurasia) and was a number one best seller in India. She is married to Gun Nidhi Dalmia and lives in New Delhi. The portrayal of woman in Indian English fiction as the silent suffer and up holder of the tradition and traditional values of family and society has undergone a tremendous change and is no longer presented as a passive character. Kamala Markandaya, Nayantara Sehgal, Anita Desai, Shashi Despande and many women as an individual rebelling against the traditional role, breaking the silence of suffering trying to move out of the caged existence and asserting the individual self. This women is trying to be herself and yet does not wish to break up the family ties. Since Gandhiji helped the women to cross the threshold of family life and move out into the outer world of freedom struggle and social reform, the woman is presented with varied opportunities not only today but also yesterday during freedom movement. Yet writing in 1998, Manju Kapur, in her novels presents women who try to establish their own identity. The women of India have indeed achieved their success in half a century of Independence, but if there is to be a true female, independence, much remains to be done. The fight for autonomy remains an unfinished combat. I In her quest of identify, Virmati the central character of the novel, rebels against tradition. She is impelled by the inner need to feel loved as an individual rather than as a responsible daughter. The title of the novel ‘Difficult Daughters’ is an indication to the message that a woman, who tries in search of an identity, is branded as a difficult daughter by the family and the society as well. ‘Difficult Daughters’ is the story of a young woman, named virmati born in Amritsar into an austere and high mined household. The story tells how she is torn between family duty, the desire for education and ellicit love. This is a story of sorrow, love and compromise. The major portion deals with Virmati’s love affairs with professor and rest part describes fighting struggle for freedom. Virmati is the elderest daughter of Kasturi and Suraj Prakash. Kasturi has eleven children. One after another she gives birth to children and thus the whole burden of household work increases over Virmati, being the elderest daughter. Due to her busy routine she does not do well in her studies and fails. She falls in love with a professor, a man who is already married. He sublets a portion of Virmati’s house. Thus professor develops on intimate relationship with Virmati and decides an appropriate place for regular meeting. Here Virmati’s parents decides to marray her to an engineer Inderjeet but due to the death in his family marriage is postponed for two years. During this period Virmati passes her FA exam and denies for marriage. Professor insists Virmati on being firm. Now Virmati becomes mentally disturb and goes to Tarashika and drowns herself. She is escaped by the servants of her grand father Lala Divan Chand and returns to her house at Lepel Griffin Road. Everybody inquires the reason and finally she declares that the does not like the boy and wants to study further. So marriage is settled with Indumati, the second daughter. Now Kasturi has to go with Virmati to Lahore for getting her admit in RBSL college and principal assures Kasturi that there will be no problem and she has her eye fixed firmly on each one. Sakuntala who has been a source of inspiration for Virmati, visites her regularly. Professor’s course of meeting to Viru has yet not stopped and during this period she becomes pregnant. She becomes restless and with the help of her room mate Swarnlata she gets abortion. After completing her B.T. she returns to Amritsar and is offered the principal ship of a college, she joins it but in Sultanpur too Harish visits her and there meetings are observed by Lalaji. She is dismissed so she decides to go to Nariniketan but on the way she meets Harish’s close friend Poet who is already aware of their intimate relationship. So he does not let her go and calls Harish. He performs all the rituals of marriage. Professor with Virmati returns home. During her conjugal life Virmati feels that it would have been better if she had not been married with Harish. After sometime she gives birth to a daughter Ida. And at the beginning of the novel this girl Ida ponders over her mother’s life. Virmati has to fight against the power of the mother as well as the oppressive forces of patriarchy symbolized by the mother figure. The rebel in Virmati might have actually exchange one kind of slavery for another. But towards the end she becomes free, free even from the oppressive love of her husband. Once she succeed in doing that, she gets her husband all by herself, her child the reconciliation with her family. In the patriarchal Indian Society marriage is a means of deliverance from being socially condemned and it relieves a woman from the sense of insecurity and uncertainty. To the older generation marriage is no reason to rebel, it was accepted as a part of life’s pleasere and was a phase of initiating certain Dharmas associated with social and religious institutions. Off course love was not the prerequisite or a desired basis for marriage. If Virmati’s mother, Kasturi and Ganga (Prof. Harish Chandra’s first wife) seeks pleasure in domestic up doings. Virmate struggles between the physical and moral, the head and the heart. Finally she gives way to her heart and body. II In her novel ‘A Married Woman’ Manju Kapur has taken writing as a protest, a way of mapping from the point of a woman’s experience. Kanpur negotiates different issues emerging out of a socio – political upheaval in her country. In a realistic way, she has described the Indian male perception of women as a holy cow even though women are not very interested in history and those in power trying to twist and turn historical facts to serve their own purposes. Ms. Manju Kapur’s second novel ‘A Married Woman’ is the story of Astha an educated, upper middle class, working Delhi woman. As a girl, she was brought up with large supplements of fear. She was her parents only child. Her education, her character, her health, her marriage these were her parent’s burdens. But like a common school going girl she often imagines of romantic and handsome Young man holding her in his strong manly embrace. In her adolescence she falls in love with a boy of her age. Day and night the though of him kept her insides churning. She was unable to eat, sleep or study. In the main time she is emotionally engage with Rhan and they enjoy physical relationship. This relationship is finished within a few days as Rohan moves to Oxford for further studies and her marriage is settled with Hemant who belongs to a bureaucrat family. They live in Vasant Vihar, a posh colony in New Delhi. They start their married life and soon Astha is fed up with it. Astha starts teaching in a public school after much resistance from her husband and her parents. During her staying in this school she participates in a workshop on communalism which is being led by an intellectual artiste Aijaz Akhtar Kha, the founder of ‘The Street Theater Group’. Aijaz teaches history and during the holidays he performs plays in school, slums, factories, streets small town and villages to create empathy and to generate social awareness. Although Astha and been a mother of a son and a daughter by this time. She is festinated by the multifaceted personality of Aijaz. But ferocious soon this relationship is over as the workshop finishes. After a few days Astha reads the news of Aijaz’s murder. Babri Masjid is demolished in Ayodhya and there is a lot of turmoil throughout the country. To establish religious harmony and social integration processions are organized by ‘The Street Theatre Group’. In one of such processions Astha meets Pipeelika and she comes to know that she is the widow of Aijaz. She feels great empathy to Pipeelika and a powerful physical relationship is establish between them. This relationship is a challenge for her husband and family. They both live together and deep emotional attachment develops between them. Astha is on the verge of loosing her conventional marriage. Pipeelika leaves India to study abroad and Astha returns back to her family. ‘A Married Woman’ is beautifully, honest and seductive story of love and deep attachment, set at a time of political and religious turmoil. III ‘Home’ is the third novel, by Manju Kapok. This is fast moving story which makes an ordinary middle class family’s life in Delhi. The main character or the patriarch of a cloth business, Banwarilal lives in New Delhi neighborhood of Karol Bagh. Banwarilal believes in the old ways and is the firm believer of that men work out of the home, woman within. Men carry forward the family line, women enable their mission. His two sons unquestioningly follow their father but their wives do not. Both brothers carry their lives as well as business according to the wishes of their father. As the time passes Banwarilal dies and the whole burden of the family comes to Yashpal, being the elder one. He has one sister who becomes widow in her early life. She has a child named Vicky. They also join them in their house in Karol Bagh. At the beginning of the story Sona and Rupa both sisters are childless. They could not conceive for a long time. Sona keeps but it is of no use. Sona belongs to a rich family in comparison of her sister Rupa. Rupa’s husband is an educated man. They passes their lives happily. After a long time Sona gives birth to Nisha and then to Virat. Nisha is physically tortured by Vicky, her cousin. She feels mentally disturb so she is sent the Rupa’s home for a change. Here she gets education well. After some time she returns to her home where no one pays much attention towards her studies and she gets compartment in two subjects. She is guided by Premnath. She passes in it and enters in college for getting higher education. She meets a boy and decides to marry him ignoring his caste and creed. Thus the novel depicts how family norms are is ignored by the new generation. Manju Kapur’s novels present the changing image of women moving away from traditional portrayals of enduring, self sacrificing women towards self assured assertive and ambitious women making society aware of their demands and in this way providing a medium for self expression in the works of Manju Kapur. It will be interesting to note man woman relationship in the three novels of Manju Kapur. As an element of feminism especially in the realm of biological, sexual, cultural and racial aspects will also be probed in the three novels. ?
CHAPTER DIVISION CHAPTER 1 :Individual and Political Arena CHAPTER 2 :Individual and Social Space CHAPTER 3 :Individual Dynamic of Family CHAPTER 4 :Use of Language CHAPTER 5 :Conclusion ?
BIBLOGRAPHY (A) PRIMARY SOURCES : 1.Kapur Manju :’Difficult Daughters’ New Delhi : Penguin, 1998. 2.Kapur Manju :’A Married Women’ New Delhi : India Ink, 2002. 3.Kapur Manju :’Home’ New Delhi : Random House, 2006. (B) SECONDAY SOURCES : 1.Beauvaur, Simonde, “The Second Sex” Tran H.M. Parshley Harmondsworth 1971-London Pan Books 1988.Carbyn Heiburn : Marriage and Contemporary Fiction, Critical Inquiry, 5 No. 2 (Winter 1978). 2.Grimke, Sarah Letters on the Equality of the sexes and the condition of women New York, Burt Franklin 1970. 3.Gur Pyari Jandian : Manju Kapur’s Difficult Daughters : A Study is Transition from chaos to integration : The Common Wealth Review Vol. 12 No. 1, 2000-2001. 4.Hasin, Attia. Sunlight on A Broken Column, New Delhi : Arnold Heinemann, 1987. 5.Jaidev “Problematizing Feminism Gender and Literature, ed. Iqbal Kapur, Delhi, B.R. Publishing Corporation, 1992. 6.Jandial Gur Pyari “The Novels of Shashi Deshpande and Manju Kapur. Atlantic Literary Review. 7.Kakar, Sudhir “Feminine Identity in India” Women in Indian Society A Reader, Ed. Rehana Ghadially, New Delhi : Sage Publications, 1988. p.44-68. 8.Millett, Kate, ‘Sexual Politics’ (Garden City, New York, Double Day, 1970). 9.Mukul Kesavan : 50 Years of Indian Writing Edited by R.K. Dhawan, New Delhi : Indian Association for English Studies 2000. 10.Nahal, Chaman, “Feminism “Feminism in English Fiction : Forms and variations” Feminism and Recent Fiction in English ed, Sushila Singh, New Delhi Prestige, Books, 1991. 11.Palkar, Sarla. “Beyond Purdah : Sunlight On A Broken Column, Margins of Erasure Ed. Jasbir Jain and Amina Amin, New Delhi : Stcrling Pub Pvt. Ltd. 1995. 12.Seema Malik “Crossing Patriarchal Threshold : Glimpses of the Incipient New Woman In Manju Kapur’s Difficult Daughters” Indian Writing in English ed. Rajul Bhargava (Jaipur, Rawat, 2002). 13.Suman Bala and Subhash Chandra, “Manju Kapur’s Difficult Daughters : A Absorbing Tale of Fact and Fiction : In 50 years of Indian writing edited by R.K. Dhawan, IAES, New Delhi, 1999. 14.Sumita Pal “The Mother : Daughters Conflict in Manju Kapur’s Difficult Daughter’s in Indian Writing in the new Millenium (Edited by R.K. Dhawan) IAES, New Delhi 2000.
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