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How does Anita Desai exploit language in 'A Village By The Sea' to give us an insight into Indian culture and tradition as reflected by the people of Thul?

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Q. How does Anita Desai exploit language in 'A Village By The Sea' to give us an insight into Indian culture and tradition as reflected by the people of Thul? T radition and cultural values are considered the benchmark for Indian society. These values and rituals are found almost everywhere in the country, be it the busy cities or the calm villages. They are given so much importance that they make an individual part of a society. The novel , 'A Village By the sea' attempts to capture the very essence of culture and tradition in a village. Anita Desai's use of language captures this very mood and scene that prevails at various times throughout the year in the village of Thul. Through the eyes of the people of Thul we learn what culture really is and what it means to practice it. From this novel we can also uncover many depths of the rituals, which are indeed an important part of India. The village, Thul lies off the coast of Bombay. The fact that this is a village sets the tone for the rest of the book. The reader will have to understand the importance of cultural practices even in the village. The language sets the yardstick by which we can measure the degree of importance of traditional values in Thul. The family that is taken into context is a family consisting of three sisters and one brother. The father however is a drunkard and an ailing mother completes the family circle. Times were difficult for the young children. In a village, they struggle to survive with the little money their own hands can earn. Lila, the eldest, stayed at home and cooked. Hari, the only brother, worked in their small plot of land while Bela and Kamal, the two younger girls went to school. Lila and Hari too had once attended school but had left due to financial problems. ...read more.


This shows once again that Anita Desai used Lila as an example and then also mentions her friend for our better understanding of the attitudes towards the women. The attitude of submission is also evident in the cities. This is when Jagus' wife tells Hari, 'men can go to the toddy shop and drink and forget, but we can do nothing, so we must lie down and sleep.' This attitude again shows that the women in the cities are taken seriously but only when they act as a group. All these ideas were new to villagers as it had not been part of any custom or tradition. Even Hari is aware of the fact that in a male dominated society he has to get work. His feelings are clearly expressed, 'He did not like to be watched, the only boy with no boat and no job on the fishing boats.' We can see from this that through negative words, the author paints us a picture of masculinity and what it is all about in an Indian society. She also tries to show that even a 'boy' is subject to so much pressure tow work and make a name for himself. Religion plays an important part in the lives of the people of Thul. Religion is what makes them what they are. From the very beginning the religious aspect of their lives has been introduced. It is when Lila wades into the water to reach the 'sacred rock.' 'It was a sacred rock, a kind of temple in the sea.' The use of comparison again shows us the importance of the rock. To this Lila 'took the flowers from her basket and scattered them about the rock, then folded her hands and bowed.' This shows that the Lila respected and worshipped the rock, a form of devotion. Anita Desai has begun with this and thus shows the importance of religion in their lives. ...read more.


This once again proves that culture and tradition formed the basis of their festival. The author ends the festivities by saying, 'every shop opened a new ledger at a special ceremony and prayers were said to Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth.' This again shows that each individual followed the custom and tradition by praying to the goddess. The author has managed to show us this by mentioning the words, 'every shop,' showing that no one was an exception. The excitement of Diwali is also generated due to the bullock cart races. The mere mention of this signifies the author's interest to tell the reader the details of the festival. This also shows that Diwali was a time for celebration and that the villagers did not let this chance go amiss. The author's descriptive style once again stands out as we read the novel. It portrays the culture and tradition in both the town and village through the eyes of Hari, a villager of Thul. We learn that culture and tradition is not just a ritual or an offering, it shapes the lives of people as it has in the village of Thul. The children then follow the customs followed by the parents. People in the city may not be too inclines towards tradition in the modern age but still they know their roots and their beliefs. The people in the village however are more dedicated to their faith and their culture. The way in which all this has been expressed is by the language of the author. She has managed to create a picture in our mind of the various colours, sights and sounds, that involve the rituals. She does not only stop there, she also talks of the finer points of each of these ceremonies, the marriage ceremony, the puja, etc. all confirm that she has indeed expressed that culture and tradition form the basis of an Indian society. 'The Village By the Sea,' combines this essence of spirituality with the essence of belonging to one's own community, people, faith and of course culture. ...read more.

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