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In the novel The Village By the Sea, the author Anita Desai effectively conveys the protagonists Hari and Lila facing and overcoming change in a traditional culture through the experiences they surpass. The use of various techniques including imagery, juxtaposition and foreshadowing embody the significance to adapting to change, to stay strong and the importance of kindness. This assists in informing the reader of change through the families experiences in the novel. A constant theme displayed through the novel is the importance of kindness and humanity, which is represented through the experiences faced by Hari and Lila.
This is shown to be thoroughly important as it essentially leads to survival in some of the situations represented, such as when Hari has arrived in Bombay and was unable to fulfil his original plans. The quote “he is a silent man, never speaks to anyone – but he has been good to so many” in third person narration explains how with nowhere to go, Jagu conveys the quality of kindness in this situation by opening his eating house to Hari, and provides him with resources such as shelter, food and a job which he gets paid for.
“Other people have come to Jagu for help” foreshadows the storyline to come, as it suggests that because “other people” have been helped by Jagu, the same will happen for Hari and in these circumstances change his situation from the help he will receive. Because of the kindness of Jagu, Hari now earns money, which he can take back to Thul and create a change within the current lifestyle of his families current desperate situation.
Another example of the importance of kindness and humanity is displayed by Mr Panwallah, a generous and compassionate man who offers to teach Hari new skills which will be beneficial when change approaches, shown through the quote “the mans kindness and the possibility he might make something of his life”. In the quote “I can see I don’t have to worry about you anymore” the use of situational irony the outcome of this experience is contrary to what was expected when they first met and relates to the idea of change through how much Hari has developed through this experience.
As he gains this experience, Mr Panwallah has through his kindess, created the opportunity for Hari to secure a future and income, and a possible career to take back to Thul which would change his entire life. Kindness is continually displayed in the novel, shown when the De Silvas help Lila’s mother and take her to hospital and improve the family’s situation. The tone in the quote “’Of Course!’ Exploded Mr de Silva. ‘Of course we will pay for the medicine. Go and fetch your mother’” displays the willingness and enthusiasm to help Lila when she is struggling. The use of juxtaposition in “he could not believe that this women sitting on the edge of her bed and smiling at him could be her.
It was as if the years of illness had rolled up and disappeared, leaving her as she was before her illness” contrasts the difference in her health, which represents the kindness initially shown by Mr De Silva. “Here Lila begin to feel so helpless that she would not have known what to do if Mr De silva had not been with her and help her reinforces that through the kindness of Mr De Silva and Lila taking the opportunity to get her mother back to health changed and improved the family’s situation for the better. Through these experiences , change is displayed through the various ways kindness was displayed which lead to good consequential changes in the novel.
A main concern which relates to situations in the novel is to be able to change and adapt to the transformation in lifestyle they are faced in, which dwells on a development in maturity in the characters to become independent with themselves and readjust to the change they must overcome. The protagonist Hari conveys this in the novel by making the most of the situation he is in, such as when he is in Bombay. He takes the opportunity to learn new skills, which he realises at the end can assist him in the future and cope with change as he is now educated and able to pursue further then he has before. “Saw that it was possible to have a future, that one did not remain where one was stuck always but could move out and away and on” enforces the idea that Hari has unintentionally gained a future, because he has adapted to the situation.
Hari also displays maturity and independency when he has to transform his lifestyle in the Sri Krishna Eating House and he describes it as “the meanest and shabbiest restaurant he had ever seen.” The descriptive language in the imagery “layers and layers of grime and soot with which the walls were coated. The ceiling was thick with cobwebs that trapped the soot and made a kind of furry blanket over ones head” shows the condition Hari has to adapt to, when he realises he has to become accustomed to this if he wants to progress with his life. As Hari has adapted to the transformation in his lifestyle while in Bombay, the realisation of how his life can be changed when he returns to Thul becomes evident through these experiences. Another aspect of adapting to a changing lifestyle is shown through the position Lila is put in when she Hari is at Bombay.
Lila uses a positive mindset to use the little they are given, to remain the constant character she is through the novel and make things work to support her family. She shows through the quote “everything seems uncertain now that Hari wasn’t here” that she is struggling, however through the third person narration of this quote “Lila sat back on her heels and started at the cook. She would go to the bazaar and fetch anything they needed” strengthens Lila’s character and made it clear to the audience how she overcame the challenge of a changing lifestyle. The Village By The Sea clearly depicts change in a traditional setting through the characters experiences, in which they gain further knowledge about their situations causing them to develop in various ways, which Anita Desai has conveyed through these different themes portrayed throughout the novel.
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