Shashi Deshpande's A Matter of Time and Small Remedies as Narratives of Resistance
Department of English, Karnatak University, Dharwad-580003,I
Last modified: September 29, 2006
Shashi Deshpande’s A Matter of Time and Small Remedies
as Narratives of Resistance
Prof. Vijaya Guttal
Department of English
Shashi Deshpande has addressed various social issues of contemporary India and gender issues invariably find a prominence in her writing. She is deeply concerned about the marginal status of women and she is a feminist in so far as feminism resists all hierarchical positions and institutions primarily because they subordinate women. Her novels may be described as alternative narratives of women’s experience. The mode of resistance in her fiction takes the form of redefinition of women’s culture and identity in the Indian context.
Shashi Deshpande’s novels explore the patriarchal social set up of India and her protagonists, located within this social reality, reach out to define the ‘self’ in an attempt to free themselves. In their quest for self-realization, each protagonist breaks free of the religious and social codes that circumscribe and undermine a woman’s spirit and deny her an identity of her own. These alternative narratives of women’s history are transformed into narratives of resistance as resistance forms a strong subtext of the novels.
A Matter of Time and Small Remedies provide two diverse versions of the mode of resistance to patriarchal ideology both at the level of the individual and the community of women. A Matter of Time interestingly traces the transformation of the ideology from the stage of the internalization of patriarchal values through awareness of the value of female bonding and self identity to assertion of women’s rights. Four generations of women project four variants of the ideology within the same family charting the course of social history and ideological change. Small Remedies, on the other hand, is the story of three ‘transgressive’ women, over-reachers in their own right, who follow the call of their soul to fulfill themselves as individuals and pay the price it entails. They are able to successfully create a space for themselves despite social and familial resistance.
Malashri Lal argues in her The Law of The Threshold (1995:28) that Indian women writers despite their acceptance of the intellectual message of individual, gender based critique from the West, wished to remain in active link with family and community concepts in India and also that they do not promulgate their ideas of change through gender hostility but through social rearrangements. Shashi Deshpande’s works validate Lal’s opinion that Indocentric methodology cannot use the western feminist base of binary, male-female gender hostility (p.28). Shashi Deshpande’s women attempt to reassert their place in the context of the family o the basis of equality and nurture their individuality.