In her paper, "Anita Desai's Fasting, Feasting and the Condition of Women," Ludmila Volná presents a critical culture-based reading of Desai's novel Fasting, Feasting, a work that deals with the condition of women (not only) in India. Volná analyses both the female and the male sensitivity in the novel where Desai makes use of a double symbolic of food expressed throughout the novel by (not only literal) hunger. In Volná's view, Desai's Hindu imagery of sun/fire as patriarchal power and water, which, as the counterpart of the sun and fire, represents recognition of women’s condition and a possible way to liberation represent crucial aspects of the novel. Volná analyses the metaphorical voyage towards progress of the Indian Hindu girl/woman Uma, the main character of the novel, with respect to sun/fire milestones, as well as those of water, and as related to persons who accompany her. As Volná argues, Uma at the end achieves recognition of her condition although not full liberation. Further, a parallel pilgrimage of Arun, also through the countryside of sun, fire, and water, is analysed through Arun's recognition of the suffering of both American women/girls and of his sister Uma. Volná concludes that it is only through the synthesis of both female and male recognition and effort can women be released from the oppressive conditions of patriarchy.
"Anita Desai's Fasting, Feasting and the Condition of Women."
CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture
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