Anita Desai deals with the theme of family by sharing the interactions or the lack of them between family members. She does so by using words which relate to food and the passage from page 194 “Arun sits in front of his bowl of dhal” to the end of 195, is significant to the rest of the novel because it shows the relationships the family has with each other and it helps the reader understand the book better. To begin with, Anita Desai explores the relationships of characters by referring to the motif of food.
The quote, “Arun sits in front of his bowl of dhal. He stares at it, nauseated.He quite agrees with Melanie: it is revolting. The words nauseated and revolting signify how disgusted Arun is feeling. Desai uses a variety of expressions and words to describe Arun’s feelings towards his relationships with the other characters in the passage. Also Mrs. Patton is the only one to stay with him for dinner, the quote “she smiles a bright plastic copy of a mother-smile that Arun remembers from another world and another time, the smile that is tight at the corners with pressure, the pressure to perform a role, to make him eat, make him grow, make him worth all the trouble and effort and expense. This quote signifies how Arun visualizes Mrs.
Patton when she is smiling, it reminds him of his own mother back in India, and he thinks that this ‘ bright plastic copy of a mother-smile’ is the same for every mother, that they put on this mask for their children to make them eat. The reader can feel that Arun is uncomfortable. In addition the author also shows the theme of family by how distant the Patton’s interactions are. The quote, “Melanie is sitting on the landing as if to intercept him. She does not move her legs out of his way and he step over them gingerly. This quote depicts that Arun is not very close to Melanie. In fact he knows very little about er, in the rest of the book Arun learns that Melanie is sick and that Rod knew about it but didn’t tell his parents. (page 204) Also the passage represent that the Patton family doesn’t eat or spend any time together at all.
The family is distant from each other, surely their eating habits don’t help them get closer to each other; Mrs. Patton prefers to stay with Arun, and convert into a vegetarian rather than stay with her family, Mr.Patton eats mainly meat, Rod eats meat too but rarely with his father, and Melanie eats candies in her room and then vomits them. “He fghts the urge to flee to is room and hide” This quote signifies the importance that Arun felt uncomfortable at the dinner table when Mrs. Patton used her ‘bright plastic copy of a mother-smile’.
Mrs. Patton spends more time with Arun, than her own daughter, Melanie. She doesn’t know that Melanie is sick or anything about her daughter’s life, but she seem to be more interested in Arun’s live.
Then we will identify the semantic field of food by exploring three important quotes from the passage. The words and expression Anita Desai uses are, “sugar sticky web of family conflict”. The words ” bitter, eat, cook, meal”, express the semantic xpression “sugar sticky web of family conflict”, the words ‘ web of family indicate that Arun is frightened to cruising his own mother, he is entrapped. It also relates to the rest of the novel page 32 when Papa discovers Arun is a vegetarian.It also relates to the novel on page 203, “Arun knows when to leave a family scene: it is a skill he has polished and perfected since his childhood”. He experienced many family conflicts in his childhood. After that the second quote is, ” She opens her mouth wide so he can see the sticky brown stuff of the candy adhering to her square teeth and stretching webs across her tongue.
This quote expresses that Melanie doesn’t want to eat anything except her candy. She provokes Arun when he tries to go to his room, and she refuses to move, this shows she wants and need attention.Lastly, ” ‘l can’t eat that goo you and Mom cook down there,’ she adds in bitter complaint. He is consumed by both horror and contrition. He wishes to explain why the meal he had cooked had been so poor: it had been his first effort. ” The word ‘bitter’ expressed that her complaint is really unpleasant.
This quote indicates that Arun is horrified but also sorry for Melanie because she doesn’t understand the consequences of eating nly sweets. (he doesn’t know she is sick yet) To finish, all these 3 quotes have many words that relate to food.Anita Desai uses the semantic field of food to highlight the importance of the family relationships. Furthermore this passage relates to the title because Arun feasts from education but fasts on social relations. Mrs. Patton feats on filling up the fridge but fasts on her relationship with her family.
Mr. Patton feasts on meat, but fasts on his family as well. Rod feasts on exercise and meat and fasts on his family interactions.
Lastly Melanie feasts on food but also fasts on it as well as her health, attention and love rom her family.To conclude we can see that Anita Desai analyses the relationships of characters by referring to the motif of food and also she uses the semantic field of food. She also depicts the theme of family by highlighting the distant interactions of the Pattons. Finally she relates this passage to the title because in this passage we discuss about fasting a feasting, not only on food, but also on interactions of characters, education.
This passage is important to the rest of the novel because it emphasizes the Patton’s relationship, that they don’t share mealtimes or spend time together going shopping or Jogging.