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Comment on what view of the Indian culture is portrayed in 'A Stench of Kerosene' giving your personal response

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Comment on what view of the Indian culture is portrayed in 'A Stench of Kerosene' giving your personal response... There are many goals the author attempts to achieve but the most probable one is to alert the reader, as Amrita Pritam believes, of the backwardness of the rural society in India from a feminist perspective. She does this using a special approach in which she does not adopt the critical method nor does she comment either with or against, in fact, she takes the stance of an observer to try and repel the possible accusations from the reader of her being biased, unjust and leaning towards the western ideology. The story is like a reflection of Indian customs and tradition where members of the community are obliged to think of other individual views and so surrender by committing acts for the simple grounds that others may resent it. This habit or ritual is also found in many other societies showing that Indian way of life is a mixture of different backgrounds and beliefs. Moving on to the narrative under analysis, the writer carefully selects the title which is also a powerful phrase that seals the story and its main purpose. The 'Kerosene' of the title is the liquid used for the Hindu practice of 'Sati' where the wife of a lost husband soaks her clothes with paraffin or kerosene and sets herself alight consequently burning to death. ...read more.


This is not necessarily because the mother of the husband dislikes the 'worthless' wife, in fact, the main possible reason is the mother-in-law's worry from her friends or family as they could go around gossiping that she hasn't had any grandchildren. So this particular point could defame and affect the family's honour, leading their family to consequently marry their son, Manak, to a new bride for the cheap price of five hundred (500) rupees, showing that the wife's value is little more than that of a farm animal. Despite what has been said so far the story is not totally critical, this is evident when the writer does not neglect the happy occasion of the harvest festival although it was mentioned to say that this is the only happy occasion in the wife's life: "Their dupattas would be dyed, starched and sprinkled with mica to make them glisten. They would buy glass bangles and silver ear-rings."6 The story also reflects the romantic part of Indian culture where Manak first met Guleri, describing her, many years after his encounter with her, as: "...'unripe corn - full of milk.' " This proves that the husband does love the wife but nothing is in his hands and if his mother says so then it must be so. The flute in this story is of symbolic significance, the author using it to classify which of the main characters as happy or sad, whoever plays it and is in the mood for playing it is most likely to be happy. ...read more.


The author was possibly successful in her goals to 'uncover' the 'sufferings' of the rural women in India. The story leaves the reader with two choices; either to believe that rural Indian society is really like the style in which it has been reflected, or that the story has been exaggerated for political grounds to be in favour of the feminist movement which is currently expanding in India. Personally my response to this narrative would be, as I believe, a moderate one not leaning to either of the two. I think that some of the points such as the mother-in-law's credibility and her power in a family living in such societies is true and is one which many other readers and I despise. On the other hand I believe that aspects which are the like of not allowing a lady to travel by herself have been slightly exaggerated and are not really oppression on women, in fact they are the opposite; to protect her and ensure that no one individual would harass or abuse her. The passage is most certainly biased but not fully. Finally I believe that the writer had a lot of good points in there to portray the backwardness contained in those regions but did slightly exaggerate possibly for political reasons. 1 Lines 12-13 2 Lines 1-2 3 Lines 8-9 4 Line 22 5 Line 41 6 Lines 19-21 7 Lines 55-58 8 Lines 80-85 9 Lines 103-106 ...read more.

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