The Home and the world is a book that discusses issues such as the Bengal partition movement, the issue of nationalism and ideas about what a country is etc. A major theme is this book is the relationship of the home and the world which is outside. All three characters play a major role in influencing this theme in different ways. Nikhil enjoys the modern way of living while Bimala is quite the opposite, following the true Hindu tradition, never goes out of the house.
“Once I had asked Bimala to come out into the world. Bimala was in my home, she was a mere doll, confined to a small space, caught up in the trivial duties.” These lines taken from the beginning of the book shows what kind of a person Bimala was and how Nikhil saw the person he was married to. Bimala is a proper house wife where she seems to be confined to the traditional female role, and has no thoughts of entering the real world, even with persuasion from her husband. “Can there be any real happiness for a woman in merely feeling that she has power over a man? To surrender one’s pride in devotion is woman’s only salvation” These lines show us how she willingly devotes herself to her husband and believing that no job is more wonderful in the world. Although she may be happy doing it, she is in face very weak and powerless where she believes that serving her home is her only job .
However with the introduction of Sandip, who is a supposed politician, comes into her life as Nikhil’s friend speaks of nationalism with such fire, she begins to see things as a nemesis to her way of life. Now, Bimala quickly embraces the idea of making a difference and makes a transition from the home into the world, as suggested by the novels title and starts taking an active part in the independence movement as Sandips partner or ally. By doing this, she seemingly gains a lot of power and, in the process, gets attracted to Sandip. Although it seems as though Sandip worships her and claims that she is the “queen bee” of free India, in reality, his affection towards her is not sincere as he tricks her into stealing money from her husband for the cause of swadeshi
“Bimala has no patience with patience. She loves to find in men the turbulent, the angry, and the unjust. Her respect must have its element of fear.” This description of Bimala shows us why she was attracted to Sandip and ultimately the swadeshi movement where she took an active part. This quality was the reason she makes this transition from the home to the world because she meets Sandip who shows her the outside world from his eyes which may not be the world Nikhil was trying to get Bimala into.
There are 3 distinct phases in Bimala character arc the first being her traditional immature self where she is incapable of deciding who she actually is. The second being her active involvement in the swadeshi movement which got her more involved in the world, although still being immature and acting differently towards every character in the novel, she was not a single person but a person with many different identities. The third and final phase is where she realizes what she has done for Sandip upon reflection and is now aware of all the dirty work he made her to do and Is now a changed and mature person who is the same with everybody.
Bimala’s struggle is with her identity. She realizes that she is part of the world but only knows that her home is a mix of cultures. She is confused between supporting the ideal of a country or working towards ensuring that her home is free from strife and supporting her husband like a true traditional Indian woman. She is forced to try and understand how her traditional life can mix with a modern world and at the same time, not be undermined.