In Anita Desai’s fiction there is a persistent endeavour to highlight the complex nature of female protagonists who resist against a patriarchally defined concept of normality. She brings fresh insights to the presence of the existential predicament of a woman as an individual. Her protagonists seek a way of living which would respond to the innermost yearnings for self emancipation.
Anita Desai portrays, in her fiction, a disturbed family atmosphere. There is a rejection of traditional female role. Emotional deprivation creates psychological blocks in the ability to establish and maintain harmonious relationship. Anita Desai’s characters – Maya, Monisha and Sita all are quite dissatisfied in their matrimonial relationships. Their ability to feel intensely and to experience deeply plunges them into deep anguish. Idealized notions of relationships and unusual expectations from those whom they are related to, lead to despair. For them living means loving. Leave alone love, there are temperamental incompatibilities which force them to live in a ‘privatised world’. Alienation becomes their lot and they have plenty of time for procrastination and musings. Thus, the wide gap between their imagination and reality and its awareness, bring them on the verge of insanity. They try to find different modes to escape the human whirlpool, where they repeatedly feel humiliated.
Where Shall We Go This Summer? (1975) is primarily concerned with the education of Sita in the school of life. The main focus in the novel is on the identity crises in the life of Sita due to her unhappy and conflicting relationship with her husband, Raman. From the thematic point of view Where Shall We Go This Summer? is quite different from the earlier novels of Anita Desai viz. Cry, the Peacock, Voices in the City, Fire on the Mountain or Bye, Bye, Blackbird. It is perhaps the most satisfying, harmonious and integrated novel in the sense that in it Sita, the female protagonist, after much turmoil, succeeds ultimately in achieving a better understanding of the compulsions of human existence, acquires a broader vision which enables her to see her life, her husband, her children and her duties in a right perspective which the female protagonists of her earlier novels viz. Maya, Monisha or even Nanda Kaul fail to arrive at.
Cite this article:
Neha Nain. Portraying Claustrophobia: A Study of Anita Desai’s Where shall We Go This Summer?. Research J. Humanities and Social Sciences. 4(2): April-June, 2013, 216-219.