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How do the two stories 'Smoke' and 'The First Party' show the conflict between the traditional and modern values of an Indian society?

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Introduction

Q. How do the two stories 'Smoke' and 'The First Party' show the conflict between the traditional and modern values of an Indian society? of old age tradition being forced onto the younger generation. The present generation struggle to balance their teachings and their new ideas Ans. 'Smoke' and 'The First Party' display two points of view on the continuing conflict between traditional and modern values. In Indian culture, tradition holds the highest status of importance possible, second only to, or perhaps next to, religion. Indian traditions and culture is one of the oldest in the world, arising from 5000 BC. Perhaps this is why modern Indians find it so hard to comply with traditional rules and regulations a they were set in and for the people and civilizations of an ancient time. But indeed there still exist beings in the forms of grandparents and great - grand parents who try and uphold their sanskars and paramparas (traditions and cultures) and defend them against those who desire change. Perhaps this is why India, though one of the fastest growing economies in the world, is finding it hard to change when it comes to matters of customs and beliefs. The two stories 'Smoke' and 'The First Party' have an ongoing conflict, but I feel they both represent different sides of the same story. They both present to the readers, women who are trying to cross the boundaries into the modern and liberal world of the west. ...read more.

Middle

Shubha has given up her old life but because of society's hold, cannot move on as she simply "mumbles a formal 'Yes of course' instead of telling the man that she would meet him. This is another very good example of culture and tradition keeping a hold on people. Indian tradition requires a woman to stay in the form of wedlock even if her husband is dead. Here we see that even though Shubha is unmarried, she is still required to behave like she still has a husband. When Shubha avoids meeting this new man again it is a perfect example of this idea. After this we see Shubha go back into her house, back to Ba. Ba makes Shubha prostrate in front of a 'distant lifeless' Subodh. She then goes on to comment on how Shubha is a 'saint'. She continues to refer to Shubha and herself as one unit, repetitively using the word 'we'. These incidents show that however much Shubha tries to move on and away from the traditional image of a widow, she is always stopped by society who expects her to uphold the code of conduct set for her. From this incident we also see how Shubha gives into her mother-in-law quite easily and doesn't oppose her. Indian culture requires a person to be respectful to their parents and parents-in-law and this idea is clearly shown here. ...read more.

Conclusion

Her feelings are equally violent with strong negative emotions being portrayed - 'anger, hatred, jealousy'. I feel that this reaction is very much like the one most old relatives have when first confronted with the west and its traditions and values. Perhaps the author is tying to tell us that even if one doesn't approve of certain peoples values and ethics, when confronted with them as a way of life, one must adapt instead of attack it for being different. The language used in both the stories differs greatly because they both represent different points of view. Since Shubha and the Bride are from two opposite ends of the spectrum. 'The First Party' displays an array of strong emotive and dramatic words. Words like 'vulgar', 'disgusting', and 'shameful' are in a sense rather disturbing. Her descriptions are vibrant with colour - 'claws dipped in blood', 'sarclet'- as opposed to the dry rather drab colouring in 'Smoke'. Perhaps this kind of language is used to show the aggressive views and opinions of a generation obsessed with tradition. In 'Smoke' Shubha's descriptions are deep yet tiring. Words like 'the oppressive, tormenting afternoon' and 'hollow neutral vacuum' are quite dreary and listless. Also in this story I did not find many words that sparked action. All the action and movement in this story is forced and habitual an so it looses its effect. There is not much colour. When flowers are talked about in the beginning, they are 'dry' and 'dead'. Lifeless perhaps like her own existence. ...read more.

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