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The structure and techniques used by Anita Desai in Clear Light of the Day.

The structure and techniques used by Anita Desai in Clear Light of the Day.

Anita Desai uses many narrative techniques in this novel. They can be examined one by one.

The Division of the Novel :

Clear Light of Day is divided into four unnamed parts. The division often conveys symbolism and meaning. Desai takes liberties with chronology and ‘there is a constant intermingling of the past and 1 present with a hint of the foreboding future’ in the novel. The first chapter deals with the present time, and we are -introduced to the characters as they are now. The two sisters are re-united after some years apart. Tara, who is married to a diplomat, is back in India to attend their brother’s daughter’s marriage in Hyderabad. Tara’s first stop on her journey however, is in Old Delhi to visit Bim in their childhood home. The second and third chapters deal with the memories of the past, and through Bim and Tara we are taken back to the years around the partition. The relationships among the siblings are described here, as well as their relationship to their parents and their aunt. The political situation in India before, during, and after the partition can be traced through the characters and their different experiences. The third chapter also reveals the 2 ‘predicament of aunt Mira’ through a series of events. In the fourth and last chapter the characters and themselves in the present again, but now with a profound realisation which they lacked in the first chapter. Bim, who has; struggled with anger and bitterness, now realises that she has to make peace with herself and the ghosts from her past in order to live a full and meaningful life. The structure and techniques used by Anita Desai in Clear Light of the Day.



Flash back Technique and Memory:

Anita Desai also makes memory and ash back as the main narrative strategies in her novel Clear Light of Day. This is a novel about memory: about places and people who go through change and transformation in an attempt to and their true identities. In Clear Light of Day we get to see an upper-middle class Indian family and their everyday life. The characters struggle to and their place in the world, and with the memories of the past that haunt them in various ways. Desai has described Clear Light of Day as a ‘four 3 dimensional piece’. Inspired by T. S. Eliot’s Four Quartets (1978) the novel shows how time can be both a destroyer and a preserver, and it also shows ‘what the bondage of time does to describes, events she documents and characters she delineates. Most of the images are so sharply condensed and chiseled that they resemble a piece of painting. In Clear Light of Day Desai portrays her characters through various uses of symbols and images, and the language is often very poetic. Desai’s protagonists ‘associate their emotions and feelings with the 8 buds, owers, petals, birds, animals and insects around them’. At the very beginning of Clear Light of Day we see that already on the first two pages we are given the images of singing koels, of ants, of a rose garden, of a snail. All images that bring Tara right back to her childhood and to bitter sweet memories. In the hands of the novelist imagery becomes a very powerful mode to represent the perception of a character. The structure and techniques used by Anita Desai in Clear Light of the Day.

Portrayal of inward Psyche: Anita Desai is chiey concerned with the portrayal of inward or psychic reality of the characters. To use her own words, not “the one tenth visible section of the ice-berg that one sees above the surface 9 of the ocean. She “ probes deep into the inner recesses of the psyche of the character and delves 10 deeper in a character or a scene rather than going round about it”. For the rst time in Indian writing in English, Anita Desai makes an associative use of landscapes and myths, symbols and images (esp. of birds and animals) for characterization. This animal imagery shows that we still retain in our nature a portion of that primitive animal identity. In the words of Dr. B. Rama chandra Rao, “Anita Desai evokes the necessary mood and elicits the right emotion from the 11 reader through a series of objective descriptions”. The structure and techniques used by Anita Desai in Clear Light of the Day. Her feminine and domestic sensibility seldom strays beyond the narrow connes of family life. Working on such a limited canvas, she has been able to create masterpieces in Indo-Anglian literature that have won her the coveted Sahitya Academy Award. She records the psychic oscillations and tensions of her near neurotic characters and articulates them through hints and suggestions, symbols and images. In Anita Desai’s novels, imagery lends a poetic, lyrical colouring to the problems of the estranged self and project reality through “artistic parallels more powerful and eloquent than 12 common collocation of words. Besides enriching the artistic and aesthetic value of the novels, images in Anita Desai, enlarge the critical and interpretative horizon of her art. They suggest the protagonist’s totality of experience and build up the overall tonality of the novel.

By making use of ash backs and stream of consciousness Desai ‘steers her story and unravels the hidden thoughts and feelings and 5 emotions of her characters’.



It is said that characterization is what is most important for Desai:

The portrayal of the woman, her emotional and psychological crisis, her status in the traditional Indian society, her responses to her surroundings, her physical and mental tortures, her ways to come out to surmount her calamities nd the central place in Desai’s 6. Through the characters of Bim and Tara we see the choices women have and do not have, and we see their willingness or un-willingness to overcome the expectation of their society. Women are to some extent imprisoned by their surroundings and by themselves because they have accepted their 7 place in ‘a domestic milieu’. The structure and techniques used by Anita Desai in Clear Light of the Day. As the women’s private spheres turn into prisons the characters must work with their own image of self hood in order to liberate themselves from the positions in which society has placed them. As we will see from Clear Light of Day memory becomes an important key in doing this. By shifting between present and past time, between what happens between Bim and Tara ‘now’ versus past memories, moments of importance are revealed slowly. At the very beginning of Clear Light of Day we see that the first two pages are filled the images of singing koels, of ants, of a rose garden, of a snail. All images that bring Tara right back to her childhood and to bitter sweet memories.



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