THE DARK HOLDS NO TERRORS
Sashi Deshpande’s novel The Dark Holds No Terrors is about the struggle against women subjugation. The major character Sarita in her early life goes through gender oriented struggles and latter on struggle against women oppression and violence. Sarita’s childhood (early life) begins with the cold relationship with her parents. Her brother Dhurba has been always given the first space in her family. Her mother’s deep love and respect for Dhurva represent the preference for boys against girls in most of the societies. The crucial moment in Sarita’s is when her brother Dhurva deis by drowing. She is accussed of intentionally letting Dhurva die. She is haunted by this allegation throughout her life. She losses happiness and love from her parents in her childhood life. In course of time when she begins her college life, she gets attention from Manju and falls in love with him. She sees Manu as redeem of love. In spite of denial of her parents, she decides to get married with him with a hope to get love which she could not get from her parental home. Saru’s marital life goes well for few years. But her success as a prominent doctor and high status in the society becomes the root cause of fault line in her conjugal life. Manu feels inferior because of being an underpaid lecturer. He feels inferior and ignored when people respect and greet Manu as a doctor. The behaviors of Manu worsen the situation between them. At night he starts to behave as a rapist. He sexually assaults her and tries to gain a sense of masculine. She passes her days in nightmares. She endures all these physical and psychological torture to save her marital relationship. She tolerates all the inhuman acts and humiliation silently. She makes a visit to her parental home as an escape from immoral acts of masculine superiority of Manu and explains her father about her return after fifteen years of time. Eventually she realizes that escape is not the solution and takes the courage to face Manu and struggle to break the conventional identity of submissive wife. Thus Sashi Despande presents a life of a financially sovereign and educated woman who endures in various forms of subjugation due to patriarchy concept and eventually take the challenges to break them in her novel The Dark Holds No Terrors.
The novel of Sashi Deshpande The Dark Holds No Terrors reflects Patriarchy as the major form of dominance, oppression and subjugation. Truly she takes into account that the economic independence is a major factor that can usher in happiness in a woman’s life and can equalize both men and woman on a single and identical platform. This novel exhibits the silence of Indian women against the patriarchy society. The novel unfolds the life of Sarita the major female protagonist. One of the themes of the novel is the search of female identity and emancipation from patriarchy society.
Sarita denies that marriage is a processing of equating men and women. Marriage is not as a+b equals to b+a as in mathematics. Marriage does not make men and women equal instead it becomes a monstrously unbalanced equation, lopsided, unequal and impossible (42).
Saru is living in silence with her husband which means a part of women subjugation.
Sarita is often blamed by her mother for drowning her brother. As both were kids and unfortunately Dhurba dies by drowing even though Sarita tries her best to save her but everything goes in vain. But her mother repeatedly accuse her of Dhurba’s death.( “Why didn’t you die? Why are you alive and he dead?” (33-34). This too reflects that a by child is preferred more than a girl child by our society.
Sarita mentions that real love is no real at all. It is a disguised form of sex. Achieving a real love is like a dog scrabbling for a long buried bone. She has lost her happiness of attaining a happy life and a real love. She believes that “she had lost forever… the eternal female dream of finding happiness through a man. It would never come alive for her again” (124) .
Every night is fearful to her. She mentions that her husband’s hurting hands, savage teeth and monstrous assault makes her nightmare every night. She struggles to be free from her husband’s assault but everything goes in vain. She is completely paralyzed for a while and her struggle remains silence and can do nothing against the robust body ( 112).
Love for male is not the eternal love but the act of lust for sex. Sarita has been sexually abused by her husband against her will. Love for men is the lust for sex. The words of sarita reflect her oppression by her husband.
And I? Now, I knew it was not just the consequence I feared and hated, but also
the thing itself. When had I imagined? Love? Romance? Both, I knew too well
were illusions, and not Relevant to my life any way. And the code word of our
age is neither love nor romance, but sex. Fulfillment and happiness came, not
through love Alone but sex. And for me sex was now a dirty word (133).
Sarita clearly puts her opinion that no partnership can be equal. Women have inferior status in the society. A society always searches a woman for marriage who is inferior to a man. A woman should always be a step behind than a woman. She questions,
“Have you noticed that the wife always walks a few steps behind her husband? A wife must always t be a few feet behind her husband. If he’s 5ft 4″ you shouldn’t be more than 5 feet 3” tall. If he’s earnings five hundred rupees, you should never earn more than four hundred and ninety-nine rupees. That’s only the rule to follow if you want a happy marriage (137)
This represents marriage as a means to trap women like an animal or bird into a cage. Sarita is assaulted by her husband every night. She becomes a victim of marital rape. She had thought to have a happy and pleasant life but gets trauma instead. Our society views women as subordinate to men so a woman has to be a step behind in all the steps. Sarita narrates the fact to her father about the brutal attack of her husband every night. She says that he attacks her like an animal every night. He hurts Sarita with his hands, teeth and his whole body. She says
I never knew till then he has so much strength in him. .. I could do nothing against him. I couldn’t fight back. I couldn’t shout or cry. I was so afraid the children in the next room would hear. I could do nothing. I could never do anything. I just endure (201).
In his criticism of the institution of marriage, Mill asked sarcastically why the transformation of the couple into a single legal entity works in one direction only: In “The Subjection of Women,” he writes sarcastically: “The two are called “one person in law,” for the purpose of inferring that whatever is hers is his, but the parallel inference is never drawn that whatever is his is hers. (https://www.haaretz.com/1.5089248)
When sarita makes a visit to a friend of Manahor, she becomes very surprise to see his wife. She has been very much suppressed and has lost her identity. She had a low position as a slave and lost all the charms on her face. She mentions that
“Her face was
unchanged, expressionless, as if she had fallen in with her husband’s desires and successfully effaced the person that was her………..I looked down at her feet and saw that there was no shadow. For some reason the words came to my mind… if I cast no shadow, I do not exist.” (159)
Simone de Beauvoir, in her introduction to The Second Sex, wrote way back in 1949:
Woman has always been man’s dependant, if not his slave; the two sexes have never shared the world in equality. And even today woman is heavily handicapped, though her situation is beginning to change. Almost nowhere is her legal status the same as man, and frequently it is much to her disadvantage. (20)
A woman’s identify is always on circulation. She gets her name and surname changed after marriage in most of the cases. The novel also speaks about the Identity crisis through which the subjugation of women can be easily traced out. One of the female characters in the novel Samita reveals the fact to Sarita that she has been renamed as Anju (also Geetaanjali) after marriage. Her husband does not like anyone calling her as Smita anymore. Sarita realizes the fact that women are born to suffer and has to bear the physical and psychological torture. Marriage robs an identity of a woman and legalizes a man to suppress women. The lost of her Smita’s identity symbolically reflects the pain, violence and oppression as the result of patriarchy society. .” (118)
The time when a girl starts the period and reaches maturity, she is seen as clandestine and must be aware of her maturity. Sarita during her menstruation is not allowed to enter the kitchen and puja room. She was not only compelled to sleep on the straw mat covered with thin sheet but also was served food from the distance place. Her touch was seemed as pollution. With a kind of shame when she asked her mother the reason behind such inhuman act. Her mother replied that, “You are women”. (62) Thus subjugation against women and inferior feelings are incubated through the family members. Parents create a form of discrimination against girls through different norms and culture. Yes
“O Shakespeare… We all know he’s the greatest dramatist of all times.’ You can almost see the quotation marks around the last five words. ‘But, shall I tell you men one thing? He has a very limited vision. Now, mow, let me explain. What I’m saying is that his is a typical man’s view of life- the man at the centre, the woman always on the periphery.’ (155) plesase see above from book and check
In a male dominated society a woman is success in her conjugal life if she is able to satisfy her husband and maintain a good relationship. A married girl is supposed to be silent in her husband’s house and obey and follow the directions given by mother in law. The established norms, values and culture have compelled them to be submissive before their husband. They become subjugated because of the established norms and fear of society. Sarita mentions that the
“Everything in a girl’s life, it seemed, was shaped to that single purpose of pleasing a male.” Page 163 yes
Sarita rejects her parents decision of denying Manahor since he is from so called low caste. She abandon her mother’s house and get married with him. This shows that girls are to be married according to the choice of their parents rather their own will. —-Yes try to extent in own words.
A woman’s success is always measured in terms of her relationship with her husband. If a
woman fails to marry or does not marry the society starts raising many questions. Getting a man
to successfully marrying is considered to be the first and the most important goal for a girl. A
woman’s success in terms of her professional life, her academic life etc are all insignificant
things and have no value. To make marriage work a woman has to do all that which her husband
approves of otherwise the institution of marriage can fall apart any time. At a time of daughter’s
marriage, she is exhorted to be humble and silent even if her mother-in-law says anything
hurting. They have to convert their marriage into workable one. A failed marriage brings
disgrace to the woman although it is the male who is at fault. The fear of society makes them
crawl into submissiveness. Their ultimate goal is to, “everything in a girl’s life… was shaped to
that single purpose of pleasing a male.” (163)
Restricting women from acquiring an education and choosing a profession, wrote Mill, are above all a product of men’s insecurity “because the generality of the male sex cannot yet tolerate the idea of living with an equal.( https://www.haaretz.com/1.5089248
Saru’s mother insists that investment for daughter’s education is futile. For a girl investing money in education is like filling money in a garbage box. Her mother says;
“But she’s a girl…And don’t forget medicine or no medicine, doctor or no doctor, you still have to get her married. Spend money on her wedding. Can you do both?” (144) yes if possible type the words
Societies have different notions in regard to marriage of a woman. Many societies see women’s life to be success if they do get married, bear the children and obey the husband and the laws in relation. Sashi portrays the realistic problem of women in patriarchy society. She has powerfully brought out the psychological problems of women. The problems faced by the women, the multidimensional roles of women, and the feelings of women in male dominated society have been realistically designed in the novel. The novel is able to expose clearly the patriarchy designs for subjugation the souls of women. The novel speaks of various forms of subjugation a woman endures to sustain herself in a patriarchy society.
The social institution marriage is one of the major paradigms set by patriarchy society for women subjugation. Despite the fact that marriage as a source of love and a bond of two bodies and soul, the patriarchy society sees as a mode of controlling women and making use of her as a material property. It has given the permission and right for the man to possess his wife’s body. The protest of women against men can result to violence since the social taboos are hanged over her since time immemorial and they are smothered in such a way that they cannot initiate their will power to struggle against patriarchy.