Underappreciation of Mothers in the Novel Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

Categories: Gender Roles

According to ‘’My Big Red Bag”, a website dedicated to making the world aware of what women are truly capable of, “As per a 2013 who report 50,000 women in India died during childbirth in that year. That is one woman every 10 minutes and nearly 7% of the overall deaths among women of reproductive age” (in text citation). Furthermore, women in India are malnourished and their bodies give up on them after childbirth because of this. Women cook the food for the family yet are fed last and considered the “least important’’.

They additionally take care of the household and strengthen the family. Throughout the novel Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda, Kavita, Somer, and Sarla are all mothers who must take care of their family and sacrifice anything for their loved ones. Gowda’s novel is in third person point of view and the main characters narrating switch between the three mothers to show their perspective of what’s happening. Each woman has her own story and comes from her own background which helps illustrate the book.

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The value of mothers and the obstacles they face result in mothers emerging the most resilient of the family. Additionally, Kavita positively impacted Jasu throughout the novel as he trusted and listened to her no matter the situation. Earlier in the novel, Kavita had a baby girl named Usha (whose name was later changed to “Asha” due to a spelling mistake). Kavita’s sister helped her by taking the baby girl away to an orphanage. Jasu was very frustrated with Kavita having another girl.

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If he found out, Jasu would have immediately had the baby girl terminated and disposed of. Kavita hated saying goodbye to her precious child but then recalled that “at least this baby girl will have been allowed to live-a chance to grow up, go to school, maybe even marry and have children” (Gowda 27). Kavita displayed so much love for her child that not only did she name her, she also gave her daughter a chance of life.

As hard as this was on Kavita, Asha would not have gotten to where she was without Kavita displaying true motherly love. Before Kavita gave up Asha to the orphanage, she slid “one of the two thin silver bangles she always wears from her own frail wrist and slips it onto Usha’s ankle” (Gowda 72). Distance can never separate a mother and daughter. They will always be close in heart. Furthermore, when Jasu was drinking and did not care about anything, Kavita was there to guide him back into the right direction. When Jasu is thinking about his wife, he states “most of their fortune is due to her-her strength, her love, her confidence in him” (Gowda 257). Jasu hasn’t always been the most compassionate husband. However, he starts to make up for that by displaying to Kavita how much he truly cares about her later on in the novel. Likewise, Kavita always had to stay strong for her family. Gowda illustrates, “If a mother falls, the whole family falls” (Gowda 103).

Mothers do all of the household work and make meals for their family yet aren’t given near enough credit for all of the hard work they put forth. Moreover, Sarla welcomed Asha into her house from the beginning which prompted Asha to feel safe and comforted. Sarla took her under her wing and acted as her second mother. The power of women can be seen through Sarla, Asha’s grandmother who thinks “you can’t always see the power that women hold, but it is there, in the firm grasp of the matriarchs who still rule some families” (Gowda 64). Women manage and tend to their family. Nonetheless, men (for the most part), have full power over their wife and boss around their spouse. In addition to, Somer came to the conclusion that she needs to understand the culture her husband and daughter came from. She is from America while Asha and Krishnan are from India which prompts Somer to be challenged when trying to understand Indian culture and rituals. Not only does Somer feel distant from her family, but so does Asha, who needs a mother. Somer is not Asha’s biological mom, which leads Asha to the conclusion of adventuring to find her identity. She didn’t know what to do with the curly and frizzy hair of hers or where she got her unique hazel eyes from. Asha has always been complimented about her exotic eyes. Her classmate mentioned, “Your eyes are so unusual. I have seen that color only once before on an Indian woman…” (Gowda 291).

Although Kavita and Asha are on opposite ends of the world, Asha embodies her biological mom, Kavita through her “distinctive gold-flecked eyes…” (Gowda 27). After Asha returns from India, her and Somer reunite to form a stronger bond than ever. The significance of mothers and the hardships they conquer conclude with mothers arising the strongest of the family. Throughout the novel, mothers must overcome obstacles (psychological, cultural, and physical) in order to survive and live a good life. “All living things have but one main goal: survival. And all other goals are connected, however indirectly, to the first” -Harry Yeatts. For Kavita, that may mean “fighting a rising resentment towards Jasu” (Gowda 102), or grief for losing her daughters. Somer’s obstacle is cultural, because her husband and daughter share an ethnic background she is not part of. On the other hand, Asha has a combination of these problems; she yearns to be apart of her Indian culture, while wishing to fit in with the girls at school. She also wonders who her real parents are and why they didn’t seem to want her. “Everyone else knows where they came from, but I have no idea!” (Gowda 137).

Updated: Feb 21, 2024
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Underappreciation of Mothers in the Novel Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda. (2024, Feb 21). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/underappreciation-of-mothers-in-the-novel-secret-daughter-by-shilpi-somaya-gowda-essay

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