The Subtle Art of Feminism Essay

The Subtle Art of Feminism Essay

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Bapsi Sidhwa’s novel, Water, realistically presents the circumstances of women and, in particular, widows in 1938 Colonial India. It exposes the gender inequality and double standards that govern that society for no other reason than that is what tradition dictates. Sidhwa presents complexities in her characters, which make them very human and very real, and the widows’ reactions to each other and to the world outside of the ashram create a feminist message. Water poses the problem of gender inequality in India by presenting a realistic and typical situation, and it allows the readers to draw their own conclusions while experiencing the intricacies of the Indian culture.
The most obvious example of inequality or mistreatment of women is Chuyia’s situation of becoming a bride and soon after a widow at age eight. By becoming a widow she is forced into the ashram and into isolation from the rest of society. This is a situation that is common in India due to the fact that tradition dictates “a woman is recognized as a person only when she is one with her husband” (Sidhwa 14). It shows that society views women as worthless unless they are under the control and service of a man. Furthermore, this tradition means that women are married off as soon as possible as to secure their future and purpose in life, while men are able to wait longer to marry. In Indian culture, men are worth more than women, and the novel shows this fact by contrasting Chuyia’s marriage situation with Narayan’s situation. Chuyia has no say in who she must marry because she is female, and her marriage is entirely dependent on her father, who marries off six-year-old Chuyia to a forty year old man. Even though Chuyia’s mother tries to stop the marriage a...

... middle of paper ...

...t “By drifting almost unnoticeably from the commonplace to the horrific, Water implicates the reader” (Jaiarjun). It does more than rant about a feminist agenda; it calls the readers to action by deeply involving them first-hand in the atrocities that are taking place against women.

Works Cited

Arora, Kamal, Saydia Kamal, and Usamah Ahmad. "Water: Drenched in colonial benevolence." Seven Oaks. 05 Oct 2005. Web. 13 Apr 2010. .
Seton, Nora. "Honoring the abandoned." Houston Chronicle (2006). Web. 5 Apr 2010. .
Sidhwa, Bapsi. Water. Toronto, Canada: Key Porter Books Limited, 2006. Print.
Singh, Jaiarjun. "Whirlpools on the Ghats." Indian Express (2006). Web. 5 Apr 2010. .

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