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Reading: Representing the 'other': the politics of nation and gender in R. K. Narayan's 'The Guide'

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Representing the 'other': the politics of nation and gender in R. K. Narayan's 'The Guide'

Author:

Neluka Silva

Faculty of Arts, University of Colombo, LK
About Neluka
Professor in English
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Abstract

The Guide is regarded as R.K. Narayan’s most celebrated and perhaps, his best work. While appreciating the lucid flow of the narrative and the underlying humour, this essay explores the female characters of Rosie and her mother-in-law (Raju’s mother), situating their representation within the discourses of nationalism, the former as the ‘modern’ hybrid woman and the latter as embodying the traditional. From the outset, the two female characters of Rosie and Raju’s mother are pitted against each other at the ends of two polar positions – tradition and modernity, signifying the debate of tradition vs modernity. Rosie is cast as a beautiful temptress who entices Raju and lures him into a life of decadence. As the narrative progresses, the westernised ‘modern’ character of Rosie becomes the binary opposite of the traditional Indian woman of the mother who proscribes the lifestyle of the ‘public’ woman. As the hybrid ‘other’ to Raju’s mother, in the representation of Rosie, both race and gender collude to make her a character who ‘corrupts’ Raju. The ultimate tragedy that Rosie faces is not treated with sympathy but inscribes racial stereotypes serving to reinforce the nationalist underpinnings in the text of apportioning blame to the ‘foreign’ other.
How to Cite: Silva, N., (2015). Representing the 'other': the politics of nation and gender in R. K. Narayan's 'The Guide'. Sri Lanka Journal of Social Sciences. 37(1-2), pp.1–6. DOI: http://doi.org/10.4038/sljss.v37i1-2.7374
Published on 03 Jul 2015.
Peer Reviewed

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