The Theme of Continuity in the novel Heat and Dust
Ruth Prawer Jhabvala’s novel Heat and Dust tells the story of a young British woman Anne tracing the footsteps of her step grandmother Olivia in India. In this closing passage, Anne reflects upon their similar lives in India, inspiring the continuation of her journey in India. By drawing parallels between Anne and Olivia, inducing a change in setting, portraying the fading of time and environment and depicting Anne’s wish for ascension, Jhabvala emphasizes the importance of continuation of life.
Jhabvala closes the novel with the narrator standing where Olivia had lived her final quarter century. The parallel journeys between the narrator and Olivia further emphasizes the two character’s growth in relationship whilst suggesting the narrator’s continuing journey following the novel’s conclusion. Once arriving upon the town of X, the narrator, “looking around her house above X”, could not help but think that Olivia “did not live so very differently from the way she had done in Satipur.” The narrator’s instinctive assumptions of Olivia living similarly to her displays Anne’s familiarity of Olivia in which she has obtained through her growing realisation of their parallel lifestyles. The narrator “learned from the remains of [Olivia’s] house” that “the rooms were arranged in her style” and “[Olivia] still played the same pieces of piano music”. Anne’s knowledge towards Olivia’s lifestyle and the comparisons she builds between her and Olivia further accentuates the narrator’s mental closeness with Olivia. The progressing parallel relationship between the two characters additionally hints the reader towards the following continuation of the narrator’s journey. (Janita Zhang)
The concept of passing and decaying of time and environment around Anne suggests that her journey continues even without Olivia's past. Anne explores town X and notices how the “houses are ramshackle”, the entire town is on a mountain...
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