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Anita Desai's Novels

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Husband-wife alienation predominates in both the novels. It causes domestic disintegration and deterioration. Childlessness is a curse which aggravates the inner conflicts of young ladies like Maya and Monisha. But this alone cannot be the cause of their maladjustments. Issue or issueless, modern Indian woman is trapped in the snare of the inescapable.

Another problem which Anita Desai unmasks in her novels is generation gap. Tradition confronts modernity leaving in its wake alienation or estrangement to be found on all fronts of life. Her characters have to undergo deep sorrow and tension when things do not turn up to standard norms due to changed values.Anita Desai shows the ability of her narrative art to maintain contact with life. Her treatment of existential themes like alienation isolation, quest for wholeness and identity, frustration, disorderly marriage, death, despair, destruction and lack of communication is authentic.

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Both the novels Cry The Peacock and Voices in the City clearly show that almost all the characters in these novels wrestle with the problems of existence in their own way. Sartre’s views of existence and essence, the feelings of nausea, anguish and absurdity and individual praxis appear to be reflected in these novels. Anita Desai reworks the psychological material in a variety of contexts. The conflicts in her characters, their defense mechanism and their psyche life are objectified in the novels in a disguised form. The psyche configuration expressed through characters, their memories, dreams, hope, fears interwoven with the themes and structural patterns provide multiple dimensions to her work.

Anita Desai is an uncrowned queen of the inner emotional world. Unlike her predecessors, she is not a social chronicler of her age, but an innovator in the psychic exploration of the dark labyrinths of human mind. She depicts the unbearable burden of the contemporary chaotic conditions which her helpless yet aware characters have to experience. Her characters are on the threshold of a new dawn of consciousness, but lacking in courage to revolt, they become introvert pessimists. They suffer due to lack or decision between refusal and acceptance, revolt and resignation, involvement and detachment, surrender and freedom, etc.

Anita Desai’s Bye-Bye Blackbird is a novel about Indian immigrants settled in England focusing attention on three characters ‘Dev’, ‘Adit’ and ‘Sarah’. In this novel Mrs. Desai discusses different dimensions but she does not remain untouched by the psychic problems of her characters. The feminine sensibility is represented only after the marriage of Sarah, an English girl, to Adit, an Indian. Both of them suffer from problems, such as the loss of identity, alienation, humiliation mainly on account of racial and cultural prejudices. Sarah, when rejected by her parents and society, finds the world around her hostile, and tries to submit to Adit—the very cause of her isolation and alienation.

She never protests against him and is ever ready to secrifice anything to save her marriage. When Adit explodes, “my son will be born in India”9 (235), she is repelled, but still swallows it and submits to the yearns for freedom. It is not freedom from conventions or traditions but freedom from the self : the self which carries the stigma of Mrs. Sen “which she wants to hide, conceal and escape from. Sarah’s marital relation is not adjustable. Sarah takes no care to protect food from the cat’s sniffing which Adit never likes whereas Sarah does not like Adit’s Bengali music.

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