Bapsi Sidhwa’s Water: A Novel: The Widows in Subjugation, Revolt, and Jouissance


Indian writers give various voices to battered "husbandless" women living on "the margin of society" This "husbandlessness" is the key term, indicating how a woman is marginalized and becomes the victim of cruel violence. And among "husbandless" women, widows are the most marginalized beings, as seen in the tradition of forced suttee. However, just a few English novels deal mainly with the issue of widows: Bharati Mukherjee’s Jasmine (1989), Aruna Chakravarti’s The Inheritors (2004), and Bapsi Sidhwa’s Water: A Novel (2006). In this paper, I will focus on Bapsi Sidhwa’s Water: A Novel (2006), based on the film by Deepa Mehta, which tells a story of the widows at an ashram (a forlorn widow’s house) in Varanasi. Water: A Novel deals with the reality of widows in 1930s, and gives a detailed explanation of discriminatory practices and attitudes toward them, which are still retained in contemporary Indian society. The film deals with the problematic theme of love and remarriage, but Sidhwa focuses more on the forbidden theme of widows' sexuality in a variety of ways. I will examine how she successfully shows that the widow’s body is a space in which the contradictory meanings of her sexuality are exploited for the convenience of a patriarchal society.

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Eiko Ohira, Otsuma University, Japan

Paper Information
Conference: KAMC2020
Stream: Literature

This paper is part of the KAMC2020 Conference Proceedings (View)
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To cite this article:
Ohira E. (2021) Bapsi Sidhwa’s Water: A Novel: The Widows in Subjugation, Revolt, and Jouissance ISSN: 2436-0503 – The Kyoto Conference on Arts, Media & Culture 2020: Official Conference Proceedings
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon