Anita Desai Revision For Chapter 1 Part 2 “Village by the sea”
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The poverty of the lila’s family is very evident in the writings of Desai. Throughout the book, the poverty is emphasized over and over again to promote the theme and hence develop links with other themes such as superstition and helplessness.
Lila “went in with a tumbler of tea” and she “stopped to add a little extra milk to it.” This shows that she is very caring of her mother as she adds some more of the ‘precious’ milk for her mother. The mother “lay on the string bed on some old grey sheets”, shows that they cannot afford mattresses, and the adjective “old” gives a very negative feeling towards their possessions. Her mother “looked like a crumpled grey rag lying there”, this simile brings out the terrible state that her mother is in. The pathetic condition and the grief of the mother is commented on through, “She had no pains and no fever but simply grew weaker and weaker all the time”. The immobilized state of the poor mother is brought out further in “Now she could not sit up to drink her tea”. The fact that Lila despises her father is portrayed when she does not even want to have him in her sight, as said in, “She also kept her head turned away from the heap that lay on a mat in a corner of the dark, shadowy room.”
The ‘heap’, used by Desai is very negative and brings out non-living characteristics; it is almost like the father is dead. The olfactory imagery in “grumbling sound of obstructed breathing and also stank”, the “stank” also gives a negative character to the father. The first real reference to their drunken father’s state is commented on through, “Lila could smell the fermented toddy even from a distance”. “- it was a smell she had known and hated since she was a small girl”, this is an internal flashback that Lila remembers, showing her hatred of the intoxicant. This also brings out the fact that Lila’s father had this problem from a long time. Lila wishes that “stench of drunkenness” due to her father, would go away from her mother, though “no one dared tell him, least of all her mother”. The mother’s worry is evicted in “Lila, have the girls gone to school?” She also tries to coordinate the family by giving instructions to Lila to go to the “sweep and go to market”. Lila’s sadness is further brought out in, “She had given up going to school long ago, so that she could stay home and do the cooking and washing and look after the others”.
The sudden contrast is brought out when there is a sudden change to the fortunate Bela and Kamal, “running down the village road with their books”, this contrast further emphasizes the carefree nature of the young girls. The houses here are contrasted with the huts on the other side of the village in, “not the thatched huts of the shore, but solid bungalows of brick with wooden doors and iron grilles at the windows”. Women washing the clothes in the pond “seemed to be enjoying this part of their housework”, this shows that there is optimism in some of the villagers while they are doing their housework. The sadness of the education state in the family is brought out in “Hari used to go to the boys’ school but lately he had stopped, saying he had to work in the fields”, this shows that Hari is hardworking and supports the family with the assistance of Lila.
When returning from the school Hari saw a new sight, a “bright glint of a new tin shack that he had not seen before”. The audience is introduced to a new character; Ramu, a foil to Hari. Hari’s ignorance is contrasted immediately with Ramu’s knowledge of the current happenings in the village. Hari covers his ignorance by telling Ramu that he does not “go to the village”. Ramu tells Hari of how the government was going to build a factory in the village. Hari cannot picture the great picture that Ramu is narrating to him, hence “completely disbelieving Ramu’s tale”. The village temple, which according to Ramu would be leveled, existed from Hari’s grandfather’s time, this showing the number of generations that survived in the village. Ramu’s optimism is shown when he excitedly shouts to Hari, “we will get jobs”.
Hari continuously thinks about the factory while he is working on his field. When he had neared a bush to be cut, the writer uses ominous images to express the thoughts that Hari is feeling through, “a black snake slither under it”. He then asks himself a question about being able to get a job in the factory. Mentally Hari does not believes he will get a job, as he has not attended school. The author shows the skills that Hari possesses, “he could read and write and add figures”, she also shows the skills that he does not have, “he had not taken an exam and had no degree”. He asks himself rhetorical questions about whether he needed “a degree to work in a factory?”. An innuendo of optimism in Hari is evoked in “Any man could work machines and use tools if his hands were fit to work. As Hari’s were”. He wanted to learn to “work machines” and instantly faces a dilemma whether it is possible to change and adapt to the reality.
Hari’s quiet and thoughtful character is portrayed in “he never did talk much and preferred to think things out very slowly and carefully before he did”. Hari seems very cruel when Lila says, “Hari, he will kill himself drinking the toddy those wicked men make and sell”, Hari uncaringly says “Let him”. Lila suddenly worries who will help the sustenance of the family, Hari reminds her that the father does not help the family. Lila makes a valid argument of how does the “mother get well if she never gets any medicine?”. Hari hopelessly says, “What can I do?”. Lila shows optimism when she realizes that change “would come. She had to believe that it would come”. The reason why Hari left school was different from Ramu and his two friends, Hari could not afford the “fees, low as they were”, whereas Ramu and his two friends got bored of school. Hari has an argument with them about getting jobs in the factories.
Hari saw Kamal and Bela collecting mollusks for their dinner, he did not want to join them as it was “an occupation for women”, this shows that Hari was trying to protect his manliness. An another instance of his self consciousness is brought out when he went fishing with a net, “He did not like to be watched”. The fishing fleet had come in from fishing, the fish market opened on the beach, and all the villagers haggling for fish. When he returned home, Bela fell down and dirtied her skirt. When Hari asked her who will wash it she responded, “Lila will wash it”. This shows that they have no care for their hardworking sister.
Hari shows another aspect of his character when he made up his mind in, “He was not clever but be was not going to be fooled” as his father was by the con man. After dinner, when Hari and Lila were trying to sleeping, their father came back from drinking along with the three brothers from the neighboring farm. Hari once again wishes that his father would be bitten by a poisonous snake and die. Eventually the whole house was quiet when the father entered and slept, ending the first chapter. The whole of the first chapter is almost an introduction to the life and the associated problems that Lila and Hari have to face in their lives.