TUESDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2008
The Home and the World – significance of the title
The real significance of the title ‘The Home and the World’ lies in the different choices that Bimala has to make throughout the book – choices between the different ‘homes’ and ‘worlds’ that form a backdrop to this love story. Most importantly, a study into the different ‘homes’ and ‘worlds’ she has to choose between reveals the different levels at which this multi-layered story can be interpreted. In the first layer lies Bimala’s actual ‘home’ – her life behind the purdah, and the ‘world’ – the outer sphere beyond the zenana that she reluctantly enters. If you strip away this layer, the literal interpretations of ‘home’ and ‘world’ give way to the symbolic representation of Nikhil as Bimala’s ‘home’ and Sandip as Bimala’s outside ‘world’. And if you venture deeper into the novel, the ideals that Sandip and Nikhil espouse come to represent the two ideologies she must choose between, that is, Nikhil’s pragmatism that represents the ‘home’ and Sandip’s idealism that represents the ‘world’.
Home - behind the purdah, World - beyond it
Bimala lived her entire life in a secluded, sheltered existence behind the purdah. Yet, this was the life she was reared to aspire to, and it was the life she was happy with. It was Nikhil who, not content with Bimala’s seclusion, pushed his reluctant wife to learn English and explore the world outside the zenana. He almost forcibly dragged her to the outside world to give her the freedom of her own choices. Yet, for all of Nikhil’s exertions, the real circumstance which finally prompted Bimala to cross the threshold and enter the outside world was Sandip’s entrance into their lives. It was at the sight of him that Bimala, drawn to his nationalistic fervour, made the choice between staying inside her ‘home’ and meeting him in in the outside ‘world’, and chose the latter. Ironically enough, it was Sandip who came to stay in...