Cracking India “Cracking India” is a novel that is based on acts of violence that were being committed against people of all ages, genders and religions in India; this took place in 1947 during the Partition of India which separated Pakistan and India based on religion. Sexual objectification of women in Indian society began at a very early age for the women all the way up to adulthood. Women were not given their freedom because they lived in a society where they were not on the same level as men; Rape and sexual violation occurred heavily during this time.
Men in power made decisions and then implemented the decisions with violence, which encompasses both power and gender. The idea of religious intolerance being fueled by the fear of Partition increased the tension. The beginning of the novel describes the way Lenny viewed her illness of polio as a great escape to her pre-assigned future. She thought that by having this disease that her future would be different than of the women of her society. Since Lenny is younger, she is not as aware of the issues surrounding her and is more involved with simpler things.
An example of this would be when she was playing with Hari’s dhoti; there was no vicious intent behind her actions. Lenny is exposed with religious issues when she goes with her parents, Adi, and her cousin to the main hall of the temple. Colonel Bharucha declares that Ghandi wants them to eat salt from only the Indian Ocean. This causes controversy, however Lenny has no choice but to listen to it all and not say a word. Throughout the novel, Lenny becomes more aware of her surroundings and how religion is playing an important role in society.
When Lenny sees that Hari has grown a patch of hair, it seems ridiculous to her. She tries to remove his dhoti, but this time she does not do it in a humorous way. This showed that even children were being affected by the differences in religion. Another example would be when the Ice- Candy man reports that several Muslims have been murdered. Lenny begins to see more and more how different religions affect a society and she is beginning to develop a hatred for other religions. The oppression of women in the novel is extremely disturbing.
Although, on the surface she portrays herself as a strong individual, Papoo is one of many women in the novel who has been victimized. Not only does Papoo have to be deprived of her childhood by getting married at a young age, but she has to take her mother’s abuse as well. Another woman in the novel that has been victimized is Ayah; Ayah is an example of the limited power of women’s sexuality over males. Ayah is abducted by a mob of Muslim men, led by Ice-Candy Man, and is raped repeatedly. She has been sexually objectified and has lost her inner self completely.
However, Grandmother tries to convince Ayah that she should forgive, though this experience is far too treacherous for anyone to forgive. Mrs. Sethi’s is a respected woman in society and has proven to be quite brave and yet she is a battered woman, trapped in an oppressive marriage. One relationship that changes throughout the novel is of Lenny’s and her cousin. Her cousin is the voice of knowledge and experience to her and he even has a sexually dominating personality. Her cousin explains to ner about the dancing girls and even attempts to grope Lenny.
Lenny quickly reacts by pulling away, but her cousin does not seem fazed at all by her reaction. This signifies he feels no remorse in his actions. He has been raised in an environment where aggressiveness towards women is the best way to get what you desire. Many of the major female characters in “Cracking India” seem to be strong on the surface, but society soon breaks their spirits in one way or another. Underprivileged girls in India are often abused and oppressed all throughout her young life and then sent off to marry an older man.
Through my own experiences, I have seen how important religion and gender are in my culture. One experience that has always stayed with me was when I couldn’t attend my best friend’s grandfather’s funeral because he was taken to a Muslim Mosque before his burial, and being that I am Christian, my family did not allow me to attend. It angered me that I could not be there for my friend due to my religion. Gender roles are important to my culture as well; A male and a female have very explicit roles in the Albanian community.
A oman is expected to stay home with the children, while the man works and provides for his family. I feel that in todays time men should not be the only bread makers and women should have the same rights as men. “Cracking India” is a novel of emerging nations and almost every character experiences substantial change in the context of the Partition. Throughout the novel, Lenny’s world erupts in religious, ethnic, and racial violence. Everyone must soon being Judged by religion and this brought hatred and resent throughout their society.