A Comparative Study on the Theme of East-West Encounter in Kamala Markandaya’s Possession and Anita Desai’s Bye-Bye Blackbird

Topics: India, Novel, England Pages: 5 (1582 words) Published: January 10, 2013

P.KRISHNAVENI, Research Scholar.
Associate professor , Dept. of English S.V.University , Tirupati.

Women Novelists in Indian Fiction in English occupy prestigious position. Kamala Markandaya and Anita Desai occupies a prominent place among them. Many Women Novelists Wrote on the theme of East-west encounter. Kamala Markandaya and Anita Desai also wrote on this theme in their novels Possession and Bye-Bye Blackbird. The theme of East-west encounter refers to the conflicts and reconciliation of two cultures.

Kamala Markandaya was born in India, so she has knowledge of the life of poor peasants. After her marriage to an Englishman, she settled in England. So she has knowledge of her problems of the non-whites in England. All these facts of life have been boldly depicted by her in her novels without any exaggeration. She hightights the drawbacks and the qualities of both the East and the West. She has tried to present the East in serious conflict with the West. But she plays the role of a neutral observer in her novels.

In her novel possession, she presents the perpetual conflict between the Indian spiritualism and the western materialism. Caroline, a young British widow, comes to visit India. She meets a fourteen year old boy, valmiki. He is a painter in a south Indian village. He is poor and he paints on the rocky walls of the caves near his village. When Caroline discovers his wasted, uncared for talent, she immediately makes up her mind to take him to London or Paris. Then she approaches his parents, they initially refuse to spare their son. But Caroline offered five thousand rupees as a compensation for the boy. Due to financial problems in the family they accepted to send valmiki with Caroline.

Inspite of being trained in the metropolitan fashion, val feels himself as a permanent outsider in London. But he was attracted to Caroline’s prosperous material to him. He totally surrenders himself to her whims and passions. He only follows the courses and the programmes framed by Caroline. All his inborn skill has been commercialized. He feels incomfort in that materialistic world of affluence. All the name and fame he earns is only to enrich Caroline and satisfy her mundane desires. Val complains:

She does not care for me. She cares only for what Ican do and if I do it well it is like one more diamond she can put on the necklace round her throat for her friends to admire, but when I do nothing, I am nothing to her, no more than a small insect in a small crane in the ground.

In fact, Caroline has given him freedom from want and poverty, but she stiflies his spontaneous activities by demanding returns. He has no contact with his family. With Caroline’s bewitching power he feels uprooted from his soil. In order to possess Valmiki completely, Caroline adopts the way of forging letters in the name of swamy to urge Val to start painting. Finally, Val realizes Caroline’s selfish motives of aggressive possession, and he returns to his native Indian village, with an acute awareness of the shallow worldly glory based on money, power, fame, sex and travel. He seems to realize that art is a spontaneous experience, not a commercial deal.

Markandaya explores the spiritual values of the Indian culture which are so deep rooted in Val. So he succeeds in liberating himself from the Caroline. Markandaya also wants to emphasize the fact that the British rulers exploited the innocence of the Indians and tried to possess them both physically and mentally but ultimately they failed and had...
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