Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://localhost:8081/xmlui/handle/123456789/245
Authors: Raul, Kamal Kumar
Issue Date: 2011
Abstract: The word culture has been derived from Latin word 'cultura' originally meaning 'cultivation of agriculture'. But after 1500, it also meant ' cultivation through education'. Since 1805, it meant 'intellectual side of civilization,' and after 1865, 'collective customs and achievements of people'. Thus, it has multifaceted meanings, being an integrated and powerful tool of human existence. It is a dynamic and shifting phenomenon pertaining to many dimensions: the codes of manners, dresses, language, music, art, literature, tradition, belief, custom, religion, and various social rituals. Naturally, it is a seminal mental attitude, working internally, but with important outside manifestations. The word 'class' has been derived from the Latin word 'classis' that means a system or mechanism that divides members of the society into sets based on social and economic status. Conflict is the word that has come from Latin origin 'conflictus' meaning difference of opinion or oppositional views resulting into internal or/and external combat or quarrel. Thus, conflict of class and culture means oppositional tension between socially and economically unequal groups, or between culturally different sets of people with different customs and beliefs. Cultures are embedded in most of the conflicts, because conflicts basically arise in human relationships. Cultures relate to our mental and psychological feelings linking us to others. While class-conflict has more of outward manifestation, cultural conflict is largely a matter of inward tension. But in a society, both the conflicts criss cross each other. The names of Jhumpa Lahiri and Kiran Desai, the two significant Indian diasporic writers, are well known in the English-speaking world. They are more than immigrant writers, who have successfully portrayed the drama of conflicts of class and culture that create tussle and trauma, pain and suffering, alienation and anxieties, in the minds of all the Diasporas settled in different lands, specially in the West, far away from the original native countries. It is to be seen how Jhumpa Lahiri and Kiran Desai, the two post-colonial Indian diasporic novelists, could feel the conflict of class and culture in the minds of all the people of Diaspora school and have reflected their spirits in their respective literary works. Objectives: The objectives ofthis study are the following: I. To explore conflict of class and culture in the works of two celebrated writers, namely Jhumpa Lahiri and Kiran Desai. II. To find out the reasons behind these conflicts in the life of characters as depicted in the novels and short stories of these two authors, and their literary transformation. III. To explore the creative suggestions of the novelists studied, for the possible resolution ofconflicts in the lives of humans separated by time, distance and culture. The thesis has been divided into five chapters. The first chapter gives a brief introduction of two writers, their works, and various critical books and essays written on them. Jhumpa Lahiri is an American author of Bengali Indian descent. Lahiri's debut short story collection, Interpreter ofMaladies (1999), won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, and her first novel, The Namesake (2003), was adapted into a popular film. Her latest work Unaccustomed Earth (2008) is a collection ofeight short stories. VI Lahiri's writing is characterized by her plain but effective language for the readers, making them understand her works easily. Her characters, often Indian immigrants to America, navigate between the cultural values of their birthplace and adopted home. Lahiri's fiction has autobiographical echoes and it frequently draws upon her own experiences as well as those of her parents, friends and others in Bengali community, which she is familiar with. Kiran Desai is the daughter of Anita Desai and a permanent resident of the United States. Her novel, The Inheritance of Loss, won the 2006 Man Booker Prize and National Book Critic's Circle Fiction award. Her first novel, Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard, was published in 1998. Desai's mindscape is multi-cultural because of her family. She is keenly aware of inequality among immigrants, whose rootlessness has itself become both a kind of shelter and a form of conflict. This chapter also explores the existing criticism on these two authors and explains the need for this fresh study. The second chapter makes an exhaustive study of Jhumpa Lahiri's works and attempts to explore the conflict of class and culture in them. Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake is a novel that sees two generations of an Indian born American family that explores generational, cultural, and class conflicts simultaneously. Lahiri skilfully explores the theme of multiple complexities in the life of immigrants created out of the conflicts of class and culture. Both Interpreter of Maladies and The Namesake contain the elements of conflict in relationship between couples, families, and friends. Through these relationships, Lahiri explores ideas of isolation at personal, social, and cultural levels. Throughout The Namesake, Jhumpa Lahiri uses even food and dressing habits to explore cultural conflicts, especially rituals like, the annaprasana i.e. the rice ceremony. Gogol's naming in this novel is a case of cultural compromise. vii Shifting from India, the Bengali couple finds American culture different from that of India. Ashima's son is so named because her grandmother couldn't send the name on time. Children too find it difficult to accommodate between two divergent cultures: one at home and the other outside. Interpreter of Maladies is a collection of nine short stories, which reflects the conflict of characters in various situations. It won the Pulitzer award for fiction and the Hemingway award. The stories are about the lives of Indians and Indian Americans both in the USA and during their visits to India. The Namesake is a cross- cultural, multigenerational story of a Hindu Bengali family's journey to self- acceptance in Boston. Lahiri underlines the subtleties of the immigrant experience full of alienation, the clash of lifestyles, cultural disorientation, and the problem of assimilation. Unaccustomed Earth, the second collection of short stories by Lahiri, carries forward the same conflict of class and culture with much more maturity. Out of these conflicts, Lahiri presents gripping narratives to make readers glued to her works. The third chapter ofthe thesis makes an evaluation ofthe conflict ofclass and culture in the works ofKiran Desai. Kiran Desai published her first novel, Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard, in 1998. It's a fun-filled tale of a useless youth, who refuses to descend from his perch in a tree and comes to be treated as a sage. The novel introduces the sleepy town ofShahkot, which becomes alive when Sampath Chawla, a lower middle-class purposeless post-office clerk, tries to escape from his repeated failures by climbing aguava tree and gaining recognition as amonkey baba. It reflects the conflict between the divergent expectations of individual and society based on class. Individual's escape is taken as society's achievement, making even intellectuals proud of the emergence of a new avatar. The novel is also a cultural dig at Indian superstitious belief seen in the Western light ofreasoning. vm Kiran Desai's second novel, The Inheritance ofLoss, is the product of multi cultural setting as well as ethnic revolt and class conflict, and even ethnic revolt based on economic inequality. Desai exhaustively touches upon many different issues, such as globalization, multiculturalism, cultural conflict, things that touch even the lovelife of her characters. The conflict between the retired judge Jemubhai Patel and his cook starts when the judge's grand- daughter, Sai comes to live with him. Also central to the story are, Gyan, Sai's Nepali tutor, and Biju, the cook's son, who has travelled to America in the hope of making money and to rescue his father from servitude. The central conflict of the novel hinges on the Nepalese struggle to gain their rightful place in India; in a way, their adopted country. While Gyan and the insurgents are fighting a battle for their rights in India, Biju the cook's son, is shown fighting for his own survival in the U.S. The fourth chapter makes a comparative analysis of conflicts in both the writers. Comparative study also involves contrasts. Both Jhumpa Lahiri and Kiran Desai have Indian roots and both of them, after receiving education abroad, adopted USA as their country. Therefore, there are lots of similarities as well as dissimilarities in their mental outlook and their perception of the world. The present chapter shows a comparative analysis of the characters in the works of the two novelists, keeping into consideration conflicts of culture and class. The migrant experience in Jhumpa Lahiri is largely of the elite class except that of Boori Ma in one of the stories of Interpreter ofMaladies. But characters of Kiran Desai are largely poor people except Jemubhai, whose feelings in India are that of an Anglophile after his return from England to his country. The nature of conflict keeps changing from personal to societal, and from local to global levels. IX The fifth chapter gives the conclusion of the present study. From the above analysis I have concluded that clash arising out of both class and culture is pervasive in the works of Jhumpa Lahiri and Kiran Desai. There are a lot of common experiences in the backgrounds of both Jhumpa Lahiri and Kiran Desai. There are similarities in diasporic atmosphere of their novels and short stories. But the conflict among their characters is deeper than apparent diasporic experience. The disparity in prosperity levels creates its own conflict as is evident in the characters of the cook, Biju, and Gyan in Kiran Desai and Boori Ma in Jhumpa Lahiri. In addition to class conflict, there are cultural conflicts too. Conflicts mainly arise because of the mingling of different characters from different countries as well as mingling of characters within the same community having different mindsets. Conflict is not negative in nature. It raises our consciousness and prompts us to find ways to accommodate and adjust in a multicultural world. We belong to a particular culture, though we should strive to accept cultural differences too. Man, after all, should follow vasudeva kutumbakam (entire world as one family) as motto in a post modern, post colonial globalised world.
Other Identifiers: Ph.D
Research Supervisor/ Guide: Jha, Pashupati
metadata.dc.type: Doctoral Thesis
Appears in Collections:DOCTORAL THESES (HSS)

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
  Restricted Access
9.78 MBAdobe PDFView/Open Request a copy

Items in DSpace are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.