Existentialistic Ideas in Anita Desai’s Novels

Published: 2021-09-29 23:55:04
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Category: Novel, Existentialism

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EXISTENTIALIST FOCUS ON PROTAGONIST SITA - ANITA DESAI'S -WHERE SHALL WE GO THIS SUMMER ? The protagonist herself has an existential entity. Desai, has presented an intense identity crisis of the central character Sita, a sensitive woman in her late forties. Existentialism’ is a difficult term to define and an odd movement as many feel, but it not totally impossible to define. ‘Existentialists’, tend to take freedom of the will, the human power to do or not do, as absolutely obvious. Only now and then, there are arguments for free will. Sita was one such character depiction of Anita Desai.
However, in general the existentialists recognize that human knowledge is limited and fallible. The protagonist expects miracles to happen on her island. One can be deeply committed to truth and investigation and simply fail to find adequate truth, or get it wrong. The world in which we live is full of spiritual stress and strain. Sita terribly wants to escape from her day to day life and its mundane extensions. Modern man has become materialistic, so self centered and so ego- centric that,he cannot afford to help without suffering the inner problem – a conviction of segregation and purposelessness prevails in his day to day life.
Sita is tired of the monotony of the life in Bombay. She wants to run away, from the daily duties that torture her. She slowly feels, like going far away and leaving the place would help her get rid of her mental turmoil. So, ultimately Sita’s option was her father’s magical island ‘Manori’. The existential problem is so critical and enveloping that it threatens every sphere of her life. We see Sita, the landlord of the mansion in the magical island Manori, arriving there after a long gap of twenty years. The air seems to be pathetic, as nothing seems to be perfect when she arrives, with her two children, in search of peace and harmony.



Desai employs the sea, as a contrivance of progress that is focused in this novel. Sita, the central character, seems to be bored with life in Mumbai and expects to have a drastic change in life at ‘Manori’. The people in the island await ferventlyto see the daughter of their beloved saint who was phenomenal in human relation and a living legend for all of them, but Sita returns as a chaotic mother, without her husband to accompany and with no special traits ofher great father. The sea plays a major role in the lives of both Raman and Sita, because this is the place where their life had begun.
Desai makes use of the term a ‘zombie’ – an expression to portray the frustration with the rich life in the city. Sita is seen to suffer, from culpability this transforms her intact personality. Moses finds her not, the least like her father. The metropolis had taught her to smoke – a habit that even men in the island feel unrespectable. Sita had intentions of keeping the baby unborn, but not to abort it. Every action she performed at home in Mumbai appeared as sheer madness. The boys acting the scene, Menaka and her magazine, the ayah’s gossip all seemed to terrorize Sita.
The insecurity of the city life made Sita feel, that she had to return to her safe magical island Manori, which was paradise to her. The menial matters of food, sex and money were simple matters to the town folk who were engrossed in such mind-numbing venture. She had lived in a joint family set up and everyone was all the time talking about trivialities like food or at least the preparation of it. Thus Desai The arena she has given the readers to exploit is quite wide. The readers wonder at the author’s skillful portrayal of relationships.

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