FASTING FEASTING: LIFE IN THE INDIAN AND AMERICAN CULTURE (CONDITION OF MIDDLE CLASS WOMEN) Anita Desai
This book is about gender inequality in two cultures: in India and the USA. In both of them males are portrayed as dominant with Arun as a son who has the highest education (better school, private tutor, preparation of exams, and go abroad for higher education) while Uma is taken out of school. However, both of them have a greyness and sadness in their lives without evidence of colour. We are here
Sari’s the traditional dress in the Indian culture. One of the main themes of the book is gender discrimination in traditional Indian families. The son goes abroad to study and the daughters should get married . But if a girl is not very attractive it might be difficult for her to get married. And this happens to the eldest girl of this family, Uma
This novel explores tensions between family members and the alienation of middle-class women. Uma and Anamika are characters which symbolize the role of women in Indian middle class families: the pressure to marry is huge and whether they are virtuous and independent or fragile, they are destined to suffer physical and psychological humiliations. There might be very few possibilities for women to be free and creative.... and this book has done full justice to such sad lives. Moreover, while Indian family life can be suffocating the American family can be a lonely place to live. So women such as Mrs Pattons and Melani, suffer from lack of communication and eating disorders. American family Indian family
The goal of women’s life in India is marriage and giving birth to children (male ). Women are created only to enable man to continue his species through sons and gods. This is deeply rooted in the family and has a direct impact on the perception of their future lives, on their thoughts and feelings. The family mainly fixes the marriages , they choose the fiancé and women’s opinions are not considered. After marrying women always have to comply the wishes of their husbands and they are considered to have the upper hand. If a girl brings a large dowry she is given respect and is treated well in her new home On the other hand, an unmarried woman and subsequently, childless, has even a lower status than a widow.
Uma’s traditional Indian parents, desperately trying to arrange a good marriage for her with disastrous consequences, suffer from the same lack of communication with their children as the Pattons, the American suburban family where Uma’s brother Arun is staying while on holidays from his American University. Whether Desai’s characters live on the banks of the Ganges or with the excesses of Massachusetts, they cannot find meaningful personal relationships.
The family life in two different cultures plays a “ traditional role” <ul><li>We remember the Father´s attitude to working women (“his frown for women who dared to step into the world he occupied”) while Mr. Patton rules the house and Mrs Patton frequently goes shopping to the supermarket (see Chap. 19) </li></ul>Indian society is portrayed as patriarchal while in America it is the same.
My opinion <ul><ul><li>This novel shows how different cultures can influence the future of young people in the sense of the possibility of their making their own decision about the way to live their lives. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>'Fasting, Feasting' deals with oppression and the objectification of women in an extremely delicate and thoughtful way. Virtually every woman in the book is oppressed in some way - Uma, her sister, her cousins, her mother, even her neighbour. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>IT IS A BRILLIANT BOOK , full of pressures for women to marry and to serve (in India) and to consume (in America). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>So, while Indian family life can be suffocating, the American life can be a lonely place. The families have the same negative effects, regarding the circumstances that surround them. </li></ul></ul>
STYLE OF THE NOVEL The novel is written in the third person . This means that the author tells the chain of events in the story from an objective position. This point of view is especially important for the content of the novel, which focuses around the issue of repression, especially for the female characters , who are not allowed to have authentic voices in their homes or their societies. At the end of the book you have the sad perception that “the more things change, the more they stay the same”. People, and especially women, are unhappy and oppressed in all patriarchal societies around the world
In my opinion Desai´s intensity of the language expresses human experience and feelings. This book is not for those who enjoy plot driven novels full of action or even conclusions. It is a beautifully written study of characters, a skilful set of observations, but it offers no answers, only presentations of comparisons. There are many beautiful and colourful descriptions in both parts of the novel and I was attached to Uma, hoping she would find a way out and knowing she probably would not find it.