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

Authors Avatar

Imran        Page         09/05/2007

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! Doing this would relieve her from her homesickness. Pritam show sympathy for Guleri’s homesickness, as she is cut-off from her family and there’s no one apart from Manak to relieve her and comfort her.

        Because of the village culture her freedom has been taken away from her. Due to her homesickness one would assume that she would be allowed to stay at her home a reasonable period of time, but this isn’t the case as she is only allowed to stay for a ‘few days’. To add further emphasis Guleri wasn’t allowed to go to her parent’s home by herself. Her family would ‘send a man to Lakarmandi to bring her back to Chamba’.

         Guleri worked hard and ‘went about her daily chores; fed the cattle, cooked food for the parents-in-law and then sat back’. Once a year she would be allowed to attend with some girls who lived nearby her village harvest festival. ‘Once every year, there was a harvest festival when the girls would have new clothes made for the occasion. Their duppatas would have been dyed, starched and sprinkled with mica to make them glisten. They would buy glass bangles and silver ear-rings’. It was customary for the girls to prepare for such a valued event in their lives. This shows that the girl’s lives are normally bleak and dull. This festive event allows them to experience some of happiness. It was as if they are an untouchable excite of girls experiencing happiness, but only for a ‘few days’.

Join now!

        As Guleri had nothing else exciting to look forward to in her life she would ‘count the days to the harvest festival’. This was to motivate herself by giving her worth waking up for. Guleri and other woman like her would be expected to carryout their ‘daily chores for their mother-in-law as she would be the most dominant of the household’. It is customary in the Indian culture for the son, to live with his mother, even when he is married. In contrast, in the western world where woman are given equal rights compared to men, as they are ...

This is a preview of the whole essay