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What views of Indian Culture are portrayed in 'A stench of Kerosene'?

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Introduction

What views of Indian Culture are portrayed in 'A stench of Kerosene'? 'A Stench of Kerosene' written by Amrita Pritam, portrays the consequences of the strong influence of Indian culture in a village, which destroys a couple's marriage. Manak and Guleri have been happily married for eight years. The story opens to give the reader an insight into Guleri's homesickness. "Whenever Guleri was home-sick she would take her husband, Manak and they would go up to the top of the hill. 'She would see the homes of Chamba (her home village) twinkling in the sunlight and would come back, her heart glowing with pride'. This passage illustrates a happy couple in love, turning to each other for comfort. However the reader is given an impression of Guleri's imprisonment by her village customs and culture. Only 'once every year, after the harvest had been gathered in, Guleri was allowed to spend a few days with her parents' They would send a man to collect and bring her back to her own village. The story begins with Guleri recognising the neighing of the mare. She ran out of her in-law's house and put her head against her neck as if it were a door to her father's house! ...read more.

Middle

However Manak did not respond to the playful teasing of his wife. As 'Guleri got up to leave', she asked, 'do you know the bluebell wood a couple of miles from here'? Pritam show Manak's increasing distance of mind from Guleri, deeply 'dreaming', not paying attention to his wife, symbolises that there is something bothering him but the author leaves the reader in a bamboozled state of mind as she doesn't explain what it is. Guleri then answer herself by saying, 'it's said that anyone who goes through it becomes deaf'. As illustrated, one of the village customs and traditions is superstition, which is embraced as a sign of hope, that the future will bring joy and prosperity. She adds further emphasis to the new unknown lack of understanding between the married couple. Manak speaks and agrees with Guleri, 'he can't hear anything' she is saying to him. Although they had been married for seven years, 'neither understood the others thought'. Pritam leaves the reader startled by the couples uncharacteristic behaviour towards one another when, 'Manak turned his face away', and the 'perplexed Guleri shrugged her shoulders and took to the road to Chamba. When Manak returned home, he 'slumped listlessly on the charpony' the sound of his 'voice was heavy'. ...read more.

Conclusion

This is because one may be able force one in to marrying someone but they can't force someone's heart to be devoted to another person. Quite soon later, Manak's wife was pregnant, 'Manak's mother was proud of her new daughter-in-law'. Manak's mother advised him about his wife's condition 'but he looked as if he still didn't understand and his eyes were still empty'. The reader and Manak's wife are given some assurance from his mother about his deteriorating condition, that Manak's 'mood' will change once the child is born and 'placed in his father's lap'. It was likely that her prediction will comes true seeing as she was able to manipulate her son and plan the destruction of his marriage and future. Manak accepted this due to the influence of his custom, of respect ones mother and doing what she says. The baby boy was placed in 'Manak's lap, he stared' at his son. 'He stared a long time uncomprehending, his face expressionless. Then suddenly his blank eyes filled with horror, 'take him away' he shrieked hysterically, and 'he stinks of kerosene'. The author depicts the dreadful story of Manak and Guleri who were both imprisoned by their village custom, which led to disbelief circumstances. The village customs back fired on Manak's mother, having children is a gift but not necessarily the key to happiness when love and happiness is already evident. Imran Nazir Imran Page 4 09/05/2007 ...read more.

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