‘Veronica’ is a short story about how cultural differences in the narrator’s home affect the lives of the people. The story is told through the eyes of Okeke, he tells us how his life is different to Veronica’s in this village and how they grow up. In the beginning, Okeke explains how Veronica’s family life was unfortunate: ‘Her family had been even poorer than mine, which was saying something in those days. Her father was a brute and her mother was weak. ‘ The quote explains how Veronica was poor and her family were unmanageable.
However, their culture has forced Veronica into looking after the family all the time because she is a girl: ‘since she was the eldest child a lot of the responsibility for bringing up the other children had fallen on her. ‘ However, ‘A stench of kerosene’ is another story which Guleri marries Manak and moves into Manak’s home, however Manak’s mother forces him to stick with traditional values and have a baby with her or she will offer him a new wife. From the beginning their culture has taught that the wife must go to live with the husband after marriage and become a housewife whilst the husband works, ‘Guleri’s parents lived in Chamba.
‘ Unfortunately, for her it was compulsory to move, she often did not like the village life, ‘Whenever Guleri was home which she would take her husband, Manak, and go up to this point. ‘ If she had the choice, she would not move to the village. Guleri has always had a hard life in the village after marrying, because she has to look after Manak and his family at home: ‘She went about her daily chores – fed the cattle – cooked food for her per parents in law,’ Guleri is someone who is told what to do and follows all the commands. This makes her vulnerable to this culture and as a result, she becomes a victim.
Similarly, Veronica is not treated well by her family, ‘I would lie awake listening to her screams,’ however, being the oldest child who is a girl in this culture means that you must look after the family and always be in their defence; Veronica says, ‘Don’t talk like that, they are my family and is enough. ‘ It may be because of her hard life at home that she has become a fatalist, who believes that her life is pre planned and whatever happens is supposed to happen to her, ‘I snapped a twig and threw it into the water, it bobbed on the current and then vanished from site.
‘ This metaphoric view explains how he moves on in life, whereas she is like the twig and is carried along by the stream, fate. Because of her strong belief in fate, she is susceptible to everything in life and thus making her a victim of her own society. However, in ‘A stench of kerosene,’ Manak is reminded by his mother about their deal, ‘Manak’s mother had made a secret resolve that she would not let it go beyond the eighth year. ‘ His mother has said that if eight years pass and Guleri has not given birth to a child, then his mother will find him a new wife.
Because of this, Guleri is forced out of this family in the end, but she does not know that once she leaves, she will never return, ‘Guleri don’t go away, he begged her. ‘ Manak knows that once she leaves to go on her annual festival in her home village, she will never return because she has not given birth yet. Manak does not tell her this because in this culture, respecting the mother’s decision is given priority over anything else and so this is how Manak has been brought up. Because of this matriarchal society, the son will never respond angrily to his mother as she is seen as the controller of the home.
‘Manak wanted to retort, you are a woman, why don’t you cry like one for a change. ‘ In the whole of the story, there is not mention of Manak’s father, this shows that in this culture, the father is irrelevant because only the mother is mentioned. Guleri has suffered because of these traditions, this leads Manak’s mother to believe she is infertile and of no use to her son. On the other hand, in ‘Veronica’, Okeke has given her many chances to be rescued from the village to lead a better life in the city: ‘No, the city is for you, not me. What will I do once I get there? I have no qualifications,’ and, ‘This is my home Okeke.
‘ Veronica refuses to go to the city because her pessimistic views lead her to believe she will not succeed in the city and her fatalistic views make her think she is destined to stay in the village for her whole life. This is reflected from when she would be beaten at home by her father but still continue to look after him and the whole family, she never moved on then, after having a poor family life, and will not not move on now. This is what ultimately makes her a victim of her culture in the end because she remained in the village once war broke out, and she eventually let herself die.
After Guleri has left and gone to Chamba, Manak has remarried and had a child with the new wife his mother found him. Meanwhile, Guleri has found out that Manak has remarried: ‘Guleri is dead, Bhavani said in a flat voice. ‘ Guleri had soaked her clothes in kerosene, set fire to them, and killed herself after hearing of his second marriage. This is strong evidence of Guleri being a victim of Manak’s culture, she has died and wasted her life because Manak’s mother wanted their traditions to be followed. After this Manak becomes dead inside: ‘Manak, mute with pain, could only stare and fell his own life burning out.
‘ Manak had suffered from her death, he knew it was wrong and he could have stopped it, but because of the cultural pressures he faces, he obeyed his mother instead. In conclusion, Veronica is a victim of her culture because from the beginning, she has been vulnerable and has had an unfortunate life. Since her childhood she was beaten and forced to work and look after the family. This may have led her to believe that fate is doing this to her and so she must go along with it. Even though all of her family moved away, she remained.
This has, in time, made her a victim of the harsh culture and traditional pressure. Similarly, Guleri killed herself because her life was always quiet and peaceful, and she always went along with whatever she was told, but once Manak and his mother had decided she was going to break tradition, they indirectly killed her. ?? ?? ?? ?? Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Miscellaneous section.