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Reading the Novel
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Q. 1. Write short notes on any two:
(i) Methods of characterization
Ans. Methods of characterization are how an author develops his or her characters into something memorable
for the reader.
1. Direct Description: when the writer comes right out and tells you information about a character
2. Actions: The actions of the character teaches the readers (and other characters) about the character
3. Speech: What the character says and how they say it gives information to the reader.
4. Thoughts: Whats going on inside the characters head reveals information about the character.
5. Reactions of Others: How other characters respond to the character.
6. Relationships: Who the characters friends are.
(iii) Feminist approach to The Awakening
Ans. Kate Chopins The Awakening, is a story about Edna Pontellier. A nineteenth century women looking for
her self and discovering new and magnificent qualities in herself and the people she meets during her summer
vacation with her husband and children on Grand Isle. This work was considered highly controversial at its time of
publishing in 1899 because of its overtly feminist themes; because this is not a story about her marriage or her
motherhood but instead a story about the woman herself and her thoughts about life. Thoughts which are sometimes
radical, sensual and certainly autonomous and separate from her role as a wife or mother, an idea as yet unexplored
in English literature and quite challenging of the Chopins patriarchal society . This is an excellent piece of literature
to explore through the lens of feminist criticism. Feminist criticism rejects the genderless mind, finding that the
imagination cannot evade the conscious or unconscious structures of gender. {Lee, Elizabeth } At the time this
novel was released in 1899 the idea of feminist theory of literature did not exist and therefore the application of the
theory is recent. The Awakening deals with themes unique to Chopins feminine perspective; amidst a male
dominated literary world she was able to write against the andocentric French influence of the time. Kate Chopin
wrote during the first wave of feminism and her writings greatly influenced the movement and gave an outlet to the
voices of women. A specific theme throughout her book of the sea lends itself perfectly to feminist theory.
In order to understand the feminist themes and influences in The Awakening it is important to have a basic
understanding of feminism and feminist criticism/theory. Feminist criticism/theory focuses on the patriarchal language
and masculine ideology which comprises the majority of early European and American literature.
In a way, The Awakening opened the door for future discussion of sexuality by female writers. However, Chopins
impact may have been much greater if her work was better known soon after it was published. Instead, the novel fell



away and was later rediscovered. Many women writers involved in the literary movement of the late 1800s were not
able to read Chopins work because it was not readily available; it had practically been socially banned (Showalter
82). The Awakening has gone on to be a greater influence in the later part of its existence than it had been when it was
first published.
Q. 2. What is significant about Dickenss representation of women in A Tale of Two Cities.
Ans. Curiously, one of the aspects readers most commonly overlook when studying A Tale of Two Cities is the
centrality of women in the story. The characters around whom the action revolves in both London and Paris are
women: Lucie Manette and Madame Defarge. Additionally, Dickens uses women throughout the book to represent
the moral climate of a group or family. Although Dickens may not develop his female characters as fully as he does
some of the male characters in A Tale of Two Cities, nevertheless, the women provide the men in the novel with an
emotional foundation that causes the men to act for or react against what the women represent.
Lucie and Madame Defarge, for instance, drive the action in their respective spheres of influence. As the golden
threadthat binds the lives of Doctor Alexandre Manette, Mr. Lorry, Darnay, and Carton together, Lucie is a passive
character who influences others through who she is rather than by what she does. The comfortable home she creates
comforts the men in her life and her devout compassion for others inspires them. Her goodness enables them to
become more than they are and to find the strength to escape the prisons of their lives.
On the other hand, Madame Defarge stands at the center of the revolutionary activity in Paris as an active agent
of change, even when she is just sitting in the wine-shop and knitting her death register. Madame Defarge instigates
hatred and violence, exemplified by her leadership in the mob scenes and the way The Vengeance and Jacques Three
feed off of her desire to exterminate the Evrmonde line. Her patient ruthlessness helps to support her husband when
he has doubts about the Revolution. In the end, however, her desire for revenge becomes something Monsieur
Defarge reacts against as he recognizes that the killing must end somewhere.
Dickens also portrays the other women in the novel as either nurturing life or destroying it. Mothers play an
especially important role in this sense, as Dickens differentiates between natural and unnatural mothers. Women
such as Darnays mother, Madame Evrmonde, and Lucies mother, Madame Manette, represented mothers who die
young but leave their children with a sense of conscience and love. Madame Evrmondes exhortations to Darnay to
atone for the familys wrongdoing, for instance, motivate him to risk his life in order to help others. Lucie is also a
natural mother, nurturing her daughter and protecting her from harm.
The women of Monseigneurs court, however, represent unnatural mothers, who care so little for their children
that they push them off on wet nurses and nannies and pretend that the children dont even exist. Similarly, Dickens
portrays even the mothers of Saint Antoine who do nurture their children as unnatural in the fact that they can spend
the day as part of a vicious mob killing and beheading people and then return home smeared with blood to play with
their children. The behaviors of both the aristocratic and the peasant women are destructive in that they either create
an environment that lacks love and guidance or they guide the next generation into further anger and violence.
Q. 3. Trace the development of the African novel in English.
Ans. Keith Bookers The African Novel in English provides an excellent introduction to the discussion of
selected African novels as well as to the critical and theoretical debates that have accompanied African literatures
rise to prominence.
The African Novel consists of three basic parts: The first section introduces the reader to three main issues
(history, language, genre) necessary to understanding African cultural practices in their own historical and aesthetic
contexts. The second part provides a literary history of the African novel written in English. It also, however, includes
a brief overview of lusophone and francophone African fiction whose discussion Booker otherwise deliberately
excludes as part of a general emphasis on accessibility to American and British undergraduate readers (p. ix). The
third and longest part of this textbook includes extended discussions of eight novels written in English,[1] their
historical background, and their authors biography. The eight books discussed are: Chinua Achebes Things Fall
Apart and Buchi Emechetas Joys of Motherhood (Nigeria), Ayi Kwei Armahs The Beautiful Ones Are Not Yet
Born and Ama Ata Aidoos Our Sister Killjoy (Ghana), Nadine Gordimers Burgers Daughter and Alex La Gumas
In the Fog of the Seasons End (South Africa), Nguigi wa Thiongos Devil on the Cross (Kenya) and Tsitsi



Dangerembgas Nervous Conditions (Zimbabwe). Booker explains his omission of difficult writers like Nigerias
Wole Soyinka and South Africas Bessie Head in terms of the emphasis on accessibility mentioned above.
No understanding of African fiction would be complete without a knowledge of the theoretical paradigms and
critical dilemmas, which Booker discusses in the first section of his book and invokes again throughout his analyses
of individual texts. Following Jamesons influential and controversial essay[2], Booker warns, for instance, against
the temptation to judge African culture by European aesthetic and formalist standards which claim to be universal
but fail to respect the role of African oral traditions in the development of modern African literature. Inversely, he is
also conscious of the difficulty of accounting for the otherness of African aesthetics without reverting to an orientalist
tendency that sees African culture as an alien and exotic curiosity (p. 8). This double bind (universalism versus
orientalism) is further complicated, Booker explains, by the fact that critics who seek to acknowledge the dialogue
between African and European literatures still risk perpetuating Europes colonial and cultural domination of Africa
if they lean too far in one direction or another in appreciating this hybridity (p. 7). After discussing the difficulties
critics face in approaching African culture, Booker highlights the dilemmas with which African writers themselves
have to contend when producing their fictional works. In succint but cogent sub-sections, the author investigates the
three basic issues of history, language and literary genre--fraught notions for postcolonial writers invested in developing
their own national cultures. The concepts were all originated and/or have developed in a Eurocentric discursive and
capitalist framework and make, for instance, the choice of English (the language of the colonizer) or of the novel (the
quintessential European bourgeois genre) a highly political and debated act for African writers.
Even as Booker emphasizes the need to appreciate the hybridity of the African novel (p. 7), his position remains
firmly grounded in a Jamesonian paradigm. His textual analyses which are significantly followed by historical,
political and economic details about each authors country of origin confirm Jamesons much-debated claim that
Third World literatures function as national allegories. Like Jameson, Booker argues that in Third World fiction,
the protagonists development parallels that of the nation and that separating the characters private and public lives
would only further the fragmentation of social life triggered by capitalism. This reification ultimately draws any
energies away from the public world of politics and thus weakens any attempt to oppose the current structure of
power (p. 136). The influence of Marxist thinkers like Jameson and Lukacs on Bookers approach is also evident
when he tackles the issue of the relevance of African literature to a Western audience. Drawing on Jamesons
discussion of the global dominance of late capitalism and of its resulting homogenization of cultural life across the
world, Booker emphasizes the importance of African literature for Western readers on two counts: first, he argues
that in todays interconnected global cultural system, African and Western culture no longer exist as separate, pure
phenomena (p. 3), and that Western students need to know about African culture; secondly, African cultural
productions provide new and important perspectives on Western literature insofar as they resist the homogenizing
tendencies of third stage capitalism and represent instead an empowering collective experience. In other words,
African novels are both like and unlike Western cultural productions. We can not only relate to them and understand
them but also use them to better understand ourselves.
Q. 4. Sunlight on a Broken Column traces, not only the entry into adulthood of Laila, but also marks the
change from tradition to modernity. Comment.
Ans. In this respect, Attia Hosains Sunlight on a Broken Column (hereafter Sunlight) is an important book for
coming to terms with the continuing effects of nationalism in postcolonial India. The novel spans a thirty-year period
between 1932 and 1952, covering Indias transition from a colonial to postcolonial state. It is narrated from the point
of view of Laila, a Muslirn girl who has been orphaned at a young age and is now living with her extended family of
ta1uqdars (landlords) in Lucknow. The novel portrays Lailas growth from girlhood to womanhood and her experience
moving from her grandfathers more traditional, orthodox household to her uncle s more modern, reform
household. Although historically, tradition and modernity have been figured as opposites in the dominant discourse
of the Muslim community in colonial north India, Hosains novel suggests this is a false dichotomy used to manage
elite, patriarchal and ethnic interests competing for ascendancy during the nationalist movement and after. Despite
their emancipatory claims, arguments or both traditional/orthodox and modern/refom attitudes toward womens
education and marriage enroll wornens subjectivities as an object of concern used to justify various patriarchal,



racial and class hierarchies as the common sense order of society.

Written from the perspective of an upper middle-class Muslim woman, Hosains novel provides a relatively
unexamined view of the reconfiguration of Muslim identity in India leading up to independence and partition. Not
much has been written about Hosains thirty-five year old novel. Anuradha Dingwaney Needham draws attention to
this fact in her essay, Multiple Forms of Belonging: Attia Hosains Sunlight on a Broken Column, contrasting the
reception of Salman Rushdies Midnights Children with the relative silence surrounding the nationalist and feminist
implications of Sunlight. The significance of this silence, Needham argues, is the hegemonic perception of national
identity as seamless and homogeneous and the privileging of narratives of nation/nationalisrn that are organized
around the exclusion of certain ideas, certain experiences, certain identities, even certain people.
For this reason, Needham calls Hosains novel one instance of (an) other narrative of nation. Another reason
that Hosains novel has not received as much critical attention may be its focus on the domestic sphere and, in
particular, Laila and Ameers romantic relationship. In fact, much of the novel revolves around Lailas preoccupation
with marriage, and romantic relationships in their various forms--from Zahras flirtations with her cousin Asad, to
her familys servant Salimans unplanned pregnancy and abandonment by Ghulam Ali, her Uncle Hamids butler.
Indeed, once Laila declares her love for Ameer--a junior lecturer in History at the local university with not significant
inheritance--she becomes absorbed with the question of how she will deal with her familys objection to a love
marriage below her station.
Q. 5. Write an essay on the Indian diasporic novel in Canada.
Ans. Anita Rau Badami lamented the unwillingness in current Canadian public culture to remember the 1985
Air India tragedy. This novel, her third and most recent, addresses this silence. The novel details the context of the
tragedy and spells out the extent of the loss so that Canadian readers can grapple with this moment and appreciate
that the tragedy, like the people involved in it, was Canadian. It is well-researched and well-crafted, tells a compelling
story with rich and poignant ironies, and gives us heartbreaking, mind-numbing portrayals of the human cost of
politically motivated disasters. The novel is structured as three womens stories; the woman-centric focus on the
domestic quotidian life of common people offers a gendered critique of how a public catastrophe affects the everyday.
Its background consists of traumatic milestones of Sikh history which include the 1947 Partition and the anti-Sikh
riots of 1984 in India. The novel connects these events from a Canadian/diasporic perspective, bracketing them
within two historical phenomena connected to Sikhs in Canada: the memory of Komagata Maru and the 1985 Air
India bombing. It tells Canadian readers a story they need to hear and situates Badami as a Canadian writer in her
choice and presentation of material.
Because the novel largely narrates the story of the global Sikh community, the standard critique of the
diasporization of the history of the global South needs to be nuanced. As the novel suggests, the Sikhs in India and
in Canada have a strong sense of shared history and sometimes a common imaginary of movement through the
Partition, the anti-Sikh riots in 1984, and the diasporic consequences of past events like the blocking of the Komagata
Maru (a ship filled with would-be Sikh immigrants turned away from Vancouver in 1914). This imaginary, as well as
the century-old history of the Sikh diaspora in Canada that includes their early arrival to work in the paper mills in
BC, needs to be understood and assessed differently than that of other intellectual immigrants from the Indian subcontinent after Canada officially becomes open to all races. The novels attempt to chart a continuous history
through the early Sikh diaspora in Canada, Indian Sikh refugees of the Partition, through the scars of 1984, and
eventually to the 1985 air crash is an ambitious venture.
Nevertheless, the novel seems to promote a universal homogenous diasporic narrative whose real subject is the
very intellectual immigrant differentiated above from the Sikh diaspora. Out of the three women whose stories
form the foundation of the novel, one, Leela, is not a Sikh. She represents the non-Sikh Indians in Canada; specifically,
arriving in Trudeaus Canada in 1967, she is the prototype of the immigrant during Canadas turn to a policy of
multiculturalism. The emotional investment of the book appears to lie with Leela. Having faced the stigma of being
born of a white mother in India, she is petrified of her impure heritage, of hybridity, of being suspended between
spaces. In other words, she fears the very things that Badami recognizes as the immigrants predicament and also,
therefore, what the immigrant must embrace and creatively turn into resources. Badamis novel directs correctives to



not only Leela but also implicitly to religious fundamentalism which was the basis of the 1984 riots and the 1985
bombing. The diasporic wisdom of hybrid existence is offered as a critique of religious fanaticism of all kinds and of
the Sikh separatist demand for a nation-state based on a single religion. The critique of fundamentalism is welltaken, but is the vantage point of the diasporic or the lessons of multiculturalism necessary to formulate this critique?
Further, while the novel is critical of a section of the diaspora for supporting separatist politics and for funding
militant activities in India, it still privileges the diasporic. How are we to read the end with the return of the native,
with the child adopted by diasporic Canadians returning to the grieving biological mother in India, and obviously
symbolically returning to his damaged motherland? Even if the gesture is of repentance by the diaspora for
sympathizing with militant fundamentalists, or an attempt by the novel to distinguish between different kinds of
diasporic involvement, there is also a claim here that the hopes of the motherland are the responsibility of the
Badamis novel promotes the idea of a globe where everyone is connected and teaches that collective violence
spreads globally so that everyone gets hurt. There is little more for a reader familiar with the complexities of the
history it covers than an affective engagement with this somewhat clichd liberal lesson. While the traumatic events
preceding 1985 that the book covers are, no doubt, of supreme importance in Sikh imagination, the novels rendition
of twentieth-century Sikh history as a series of disasters is ultimately reductive. Nor is the story able to probe deep
enough to encounter the real difficulties or problematics of 1947 or 1984. Given its imperative to tell a Canadian
story and to fashion itself as a post-9/11 disaster-tale, perhaps it cannot.