The Remains of the Feast’ by Githa Hariharan

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In the short story ‘The remains of the Feast’ by Githa Hariharan, food and the human body plays a significant role in expressing the author’s intentions of writing this story. In this story Githa Hariharan explains how women are controlled and restricted by the extreme rules and rituals of Brahmin, which stems from Hinduism. In this essay I will show how a simple element like food and the human body can play a significant role in this story to express the author’s intent. In the passage, Githa Hariharan describes Rukmini’s rotting body and how Ratna, her great-granddaughter is looking over it. The entrails remind Ratna of all the memories and pain that her great-grandmother experienced but never shared with her, but Ratna knows it exists due to ‘the pain congealing into the cancer’ (p. 5.). The diction used by the author describing the body with ‘entrails’ and ‘congealing’ provide a revolting image of the body, showing how the pain that Rukmini experienced, gave her a revolting body as a result of the cancer. This shows significance as later in the passage we see how the restricted and painful life Rukmini endured drives Ratna to gain revenge, which incorporates the aspect of food. When Ratna says revenge, she means that she will live the life that her great-grandmother was denied. Her great-grandmother’s death inspires her to be free. This freedom involves eating the food that she is not allowed to eat. The description of the food she eats creates the image and feeling of evil, not one item of food in the passage is described in a good light. ‘Plate after plate of stale confections, in needle-sharp green chilies, deep-fried in rancid oil.’ (p. 6.) The passage then says how she gets ‘diarrhoea for a week’, this description shows how evil the food is, highlighting why she is restricted from it and how big a deal it is that she is breaking the taboo and eating it. This is extremely significant, as it not only gives her diarrhoea but also her freedom that she seeks...
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