COMPROMISE AS A STRATEGY IN SHASHI DESHPANDE’S NOVELS
[With special reference to The Dark Holds No Terrors, That Long Silence and The Binding Vine] * Pandurang Shitole
Shashi Deshpande is one of the most accomplished contemporary Indian Women Writers in English. Daughter of the renowned Kannada dramatist and Sanskrit scholar, Sriranga, she was born in Dharwad in Karnataka in 1938. At the age of fifteen, she went to Bombay, graduated in Economics, and moved to Banglore, where she gained a degree in law. She devoted early years of her marriage to the care of her two young sons. Later, she took a course in Journalism and for some time worked in magazine. Her writing career began in 1970, initially with shortstories, published in various magazines. Later, these were published in book form. She is the author of four children’s books and seven novels. She lives in Bangalore, with her pathologist husband. She has emerged as a great literary force. In her writings, she reflects a realistic picture of contemporary middleclass women. She focuses on women’s issues. She has a woman’s perspective on the world. One of the finds that the primary reason for Shashi Deshpande to write is that she allows to create her own world. Creative writing allows her a ‘safe place’, from which she can explore a wide range of experience, especially – in regard to woman’s status in society. As Amar Nath states …“Almost all the literary ventures of Shashi Deshpande revolve round the pathetic and heart rending conditions of women in a maledominated society”. Life is full of choices. Life is full of compromise. Life is an adjustment. Even a compromise is one of the respectable choices that are developed as a survival strategy by Shashi Deshpande in her novels. In The Dark Holds No Terrors, she excels in portraying Saru, as a protagonist, in flesh and blood. The novel is a saga of mental and sexual suffering of Saru. It is at every stage in her life she has to submit herself unwillingly to her husband and her mother. Here it is observed that Saru makes a compromise in her life with her husband and her mother for survival. Without compromise, there is nothing possible. As a girl, she has to adjust herself twice in her life, first in her father’s house and then in her father-in-law’s house. Erving Goffman terms these as the ‘primary adjustment’ and the ‘secondary adjustment’. These adjustments or compromise especially in latter, put different kinds of bondage or role playing on the girl. As Kailash Baral maintains …….“Deshpande has employed a conscious strategy of embodying and embedding issues that are reflexive upon Feminism anti-patriarchal stance in the narrative. Among the various issues that the novel focuses on, concepts of ‘bonding’ and ‘bondage’ are considered not only in India but worldwide”. The first novel of Shashi Deshpande is The Dark Holds No Terrors which is published 1980. It has translated into German and Russian also. It won the Sahitya Akadami Award. It is based on the problems faced by a carriest woman. The novel deals with the story of marriage on the rocks. The novel presents unusual character Sarita whose predicament is rooted in her inability to accept her husband for he is on the one hand and who does not receive the kind of love and understanding the craves from her parent particularly the mother on the other hand. The story of the novel is narrated on two levels, the present and the past. Shashi Deshpande’s women characters learn in due course how to arrive at a compromise and find a sense of balance in life. At the end of The Dark Holds No Terrors, Saru goes back home with ……… “…All those selves she had rejected so resolutely at first, and so passionately embraced later. The guilty sister, the undutiful daughter, the unloving wife ….all persons spiked with guilt. Yes she was all of them. She could not deny that...