Belonging Creates Dilemmas – daryl saulog
Belonging is a social construct that is complex and dynamic. It is paradoxical by nature which brings about dilemmas in the lives of individuals. In order to meet the fundamental need to belong, one must abide by the tacit codes and conventions of a particular group whilst complying with their values, attitudes, and beliefs. However, when an individual desires to establish new connections with new groups or individuals; belonging’s paradoxical nature materializes. When faced with this dilemma an individual must choose one or the other, thus creating a dilemma. This takes place within the life of Jhabvala’s main protagonist in her novel, Heat and Dust, in Jason Van Genderen’s short film, “Mankind Is No Island”, and in Nick Long’s short story, The Ride of Zhu Bao Sheng.
Jhabvala conveys belonging’s paradoxical nature which creates dilemmas through the experiences of her two main protagonists. Jhabvala successfully achieves this through a bi-temporal frame in which belonging’s nature seen in Olivia’s life is reflected and magnified in the narrator’s life. Set in the 1950’s, her character Olivia resides in a ‘British-India’ ripe with prejudice, a corrupted caste system, and resolute discriminant ideologies of the colonial British towards the native Indians. Olivia reveals her initial perception of India and her people when she stays locked up in her ‘bungalow’ rather than going out and relishing in India’s ‘heat and dust’. However, as the plot develops, we see Olivia’s sense of belonging begin to fluctuate and position her in a state of dilemma. Olivia begins to expose herself to the Indian culture by spending much time with the Indian Nawab. She begins to develop a sense of belonging to India which then compromises her sense of belonging to the Brits. This is illustrated during the dinner party scene with the ‘suttee lady’ as the topic of the conversation. Olivia challenges everyone at the table and says,...
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