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‘Leaving’ by M.G.Vassanji and ‘The Cage’ by Neil Bissoondath

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Comparative essay on Leaving by M.G.Vassanji and The Cage by Neil Bissoondath By Michael Rosario 821-685-773 Displacement is a theme that deals with leaving home. being able to better yourself through change. “The Cage” by Neil Bissoondath and “Leaving” by M.G.Vassanji both play on this theme. In these two stories characterization is used to convey the topic. Characterization is a process by which we are given an in-depth look at the character through the authors details relating to personality and appearance. Symbolism is also used to in both the stories to convey the topic. Symbolism is when a image is associated with something else. The theme of people trying to improve themselves is better demonstrated in “The Cage”, through the use of characterization and symbolism.

The idea of displacement is seen in both stories, “Leaving” and “The Cage” . In Vassanji story there is the main character Aloo. He is a gifted young man from an Indian community of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. Aloo is offered a scholarship, a chance to study in America. He has a choice to improve himself by leaving his family or stay and live a life he given. His mother a very proud and caring person, did not approve of this idea. She sees it as a betrayal, “is this what I raised you for- so you could leave me to go away to a foreign place?”(Vassanji 493) Aloo is trying to make something of himself however there are obstacles along the way. On the other hand, “The Cage” main character leaves her home and her culture in search of improving herself. In this story the narrator feels restricted by her fathers ways, so she leaves and moves to Toronto. She tries to improve her life by running away from her culture but she does not realize that “…each individual has the right to preserve or reject their cultural background”(Hanley 1). In the end of the story the narrator find herself back home. The idea of changing ones environment or beliefs is a theme found in both these stories.

The process by which we gain in-depth knowledge about a character’s appears or personality is called Characterization. Reading Leaving you get a understanding of Aloo through his action. Not much is said about his personality but Aloo is very obedient. When all was said and done in regards to his mother and the idea of him moving a way “He did not bring up the question again and he prepared himself for agricultural college”(Vassanji 493) During this argument with his mother Aloo raised his voice for the first time at his mother, says his sister. But he was very scared doing it. Which show his character as very respectful. In The Cage the main character is very independent. She follows different ways then her parents, which makes them irate. She believes that it should be her choose who she marries, who her friends are and what her life should be. But her parents don’t believe in that so there is conflict. During an argument with her parents about the direction of her life she says “I do not want to be a man’s wife.”(Bissoondath 83) This gives us a little insist into her blossoming independence. Both stories use characterization to introduce the characters personality. In The Cage the depiction of the narrator is more in tune with the theme of the story.

Symbols are the use of images to represent a different idea. In both stories symbols are used to represent the unseen. In Leaving, Aloo is represented as a bird in the last sentence of the story. His leaving homing is the same as “a bird flapping its wings”. (Vassanji 495) As the bird is able to move freely, so is Aloo. In The Cage a bird trapped in a cage represents the main character. Her Bother had just brought a new songbird home. It was the smallest of all his birds. But there was something wrong with this bird, it would not sing. The bird only sang once “…a pure, shrill whistle. The cry brought my brother, my mother, and me to the room.”(Bissoondath 89) The bird was dead; it lies on the floor of its cage. The bird was in a cage, just like the protagonist. They both were in situation they did not want to be in. The main character felt if she did not leave she would end up dead, lying on the floor of her cage. In both stories symbolism is used to present a feeling of the characters.

Using characterizations and symbolism The Cage was able to better express the theme of displacement. The Cage used more characterization, to better understand the protagonist. By understanding the characters personality you can understand their actions. The use of symbolism is more used in The Cage, then Leaving. The Cage is the better story in regards to the theme of

Works Cited

Bruce Meyer , ed. The Stories: Contemporary Short Fiction Written in English.

Prentice Hall Canada inc. 1997 Hanley. “Social work Proceeding” http://www.arcaf.net/social_work_proceeding/ftp_files5/Hanley.pdf (15 July. 2002) Henderson, Ray “Ambivalence and Irony” http://www.anglistenverband.de/GNEL/ab.html (15 July. 2002) Griffon, Paul “Themes” http://www.emory.edu/ENGLISH/Bahri?Vassanji.html (15 July. 2002) Richard, Dave “A history of Interruptions” http://www.uweb.ucsb.edu/~rbb0/academic/projects/okri/richards.html (15 July. 2002)

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