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A Comparison Between 'Desirees Baby' & 'Stench Of Kerosene'

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GCSE English Course work A Comparison Between 'Desirees Baby' & 'Stench Of Kerosene' Kaif Abdur-Rashid 'Stench Of Kerosene' was written by Amrita Pritam approximately fifty years ago. This emotional short story mainly revolves around the relationships between a woman, her husband and his mother. Another important theme is the significance of cultures and traditions in the protagonists' lives. The main characters are Manak and Guleri, who are husband and wife. Guleri and Manak are a loving couple who live with Manak's mother in a small village in India. Guleri cannot give birth and her mother-in-law desperately wants a grandchild. Once a year, during a special festival, Guleri visits her parents in a nearby village. This year, Manak halfheartedly tries to persuade his wife not to go. Adamant, Guleri pays no heed to her husband's baseless wish, and goes to visit her parents regardless. Upon her departure, Manak's evil mother decides to bring an end her grandchild-less status, and immediately purchases a wife for Manak, in the hope that this new bride could have the baby Guleri could not. When news of her husband's betrayal reaches Guleri, she commits suicide by dousing herself with kerosene, and consequently setting herself alight. 'Desirees Baby,' by Kate Chopin, amongst other themes, also explores the theme of relationships. Desiree, the female protagonist, is an orphan who was found at the front of the Valmonde home, lying asleep in the shadows of a big stone pillar. ...read more.


There are many similarities with both stories, mainly the concept the importance of babies in relationships. There are also many differences. In 'Stench of Kerosene' the baby brings pain and hatred into the family. The baby in 'Desiree's Baby' however, brings momentary joy and happiness, which slowly evolves into pain and misery, resulting in the downfall of the family. Similarly, Manak and Guleri live in happiness initially, but loose this happiness in the end. Both stories also involve the creation or upbringing of a child, and later, the rejection. As we read in 'Stench of Kerosene', after the baby is born, Manak rejects it. Also both stories portray the negligence of wives. Another major aspect that the two stories share is the concept of suicides. When Guleri finds out about Manak committing polygamy, her grief causes her to set herself alight. Likewise, when Desiree is asked to leave Armand's family due to the skin color of the baby, she terminates her life by drowning herself and the baby in the marshes. In both stories the women resort to suicide as they have not fulfilled their respective family's happiness. As we read in 'Stench of Kerosene', Guleri burns herself after she finds out about Manak's second marriage. Guleri could not have babies. In 'Desiree's Baby', Desiree drowns herself due to her husband's callous attitude towards her. In both stories, the wives feel that they have not fulfilled their roles in life, or gained their husbands love. ...read more.


Having the incorrigible pride that he does, he will undoubtedly internally suffer from this shock for the remainder of his pitiful existence. Although Manak is not quite as hard hearted as Armand, he too receives what he deserves. Manak is duly punished for his feeble personality. He is miserable with his new wife, and the baby reminds him of Guleri and her horrific death. This implies that although he may continue to live his life, he will be forever empty and regretful. I personally think that both stories are written from a slightly feministic view, as they both appear to be "man-hating." Although these problems can easily occur within marital relationships, especially in the social contexts of the story, they do not obviously state what was wrong with the women. Desiree is made out to be so sweet and loving - her beauty helping to draw the readers into sympathy for her. It is not blatantly stated that it was stupid of her to commit suicide. Likewise, Guleri should really have had trust in her husband, and listened to what he told her instead of proudly ignoring his pleas. This shows that although their relationship outwardly shows happiness, there were some serious problems that occurred beneath the surface. Hence, I conclude that in 'Desiree's Baby," Armand was wrong to have so much pride, but Desiree's weak character spurned her awful fate. In 'Stench of Kerosine,' Manak was weak and stupid, but the consequences of his marrying again could have been avoided if Guleri trusted her husband. It is simply too easy to blame the men entirely for what happened. ...read more.

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