A study on alienation Essay

On his arrival in India he finds himself more alienated than before. He

feels “on that first day as on every other day, left to himself” (BB 83). In Calcutta",

he manages to carve out a niche for himself in the timber trade. “It seemed desperately important to belong and make a place for himself ” (BB 93). Baumgartner knows that he has to succeed, if his dream of bringing his mother to

India and making a home for her is to become a reality. But things do not work out for him. Following the outbreak of war, he is forced to spend six years in a detention camp as a hostile alien. An introvert by nature, he finds no respite from his loneliness even amidst fellow Jew prisoners. He does not desire freedom, “for capitivity had provided him with an escape from the fate of those in Germany, and safety from the anarchy of the world outside” (CBB 131). For him the internment camp is a refuge, even if it is a temporary one. Unable to share his thoughts and feelings with anyone else, he holds to himself the fears he has about his mother, who has not responded to his letters for quite some time now.

The habits of an only child, of an isolated youth in an increasingly unsafe and threatening land and then of a solitary foreigner in India had made Baumgartner hold to himself the fears he had about his mother, about what was happening in Germany, allowing it to become a dark, monstrous block. Of course the same fears were known to the other internees but on them it had the effect of making them seek company, pour out their anxieties and obsessions into willing ears, and then even forget them in the pleasure of society, while Baumgartner watched and marvelled at this gift for passing on or even shedding whatever was burdensome: it seemed to him he shed nothing, that-like a mournful turtle-he carried everything with him; perhaps it was the only way he knew to remain himself. (BB 109)

While still in camp he realizes that a return to Germany is out of question; “Germany when it flourished had not wanted him and Germany destroyed would have no need of him either” (BB 167).

Ila Das feels ashamed of herself, and regards her upbringing as responsible for her absurd life. For Ila, “the way was full of hazards, full of hazards” (FM 139). The only bright spot in her otherwise miserable life was is her rich friend Nanda Kaul. She can only supply tranquillizers to her friend in the form of false pictures of her grand past life. IIa’s tragic life like Baumgartner's comes to a violent end when she is murdered and raped by a man whom she had given a very sane piece of advice: “Crushed back, crushed down into the earth, she lay raped, broken, still and finished” (FM 143).

Deven, the protagonist of In Custody, is a diffident and temporary lecturer in a private college, who is discontented with both his past and present life. He is described as a boring teacher who has been for years practising the trick of ignoring his class in the hope of a release from the boredom, insolence and defiance that the class exhibits. He is a man who finds reality—his job, his family—oppressive and believes that he is chained to the necessity of earning a livelihood in order to support his family. Such an assumption as well as his dull, unsuccessful past life has imparted on to him a sense of defeat.

Every effort he had made had ended in defeat: most of the poems he had written and sent to Murad had been rejected, his monograph never published; his wife and son eyed him with blatant disappointment; nor had he won the regard of his colleagues or students. The inherent weakness in his father that had made him an ineffectual, if harmless teacher, had been passed on to him. He felt it inside him like an empty hole, one he had been staring at all his years, intimidated by its blackness and blankness.(128)

Deven projects himself as a helpless victim devoid of any choice, as one who is forced into things out of necessity. Although he recognizes that his wife, Sarla",

like himself, too may have had some aspirations to a better life, he attributes her disappointment largely to the low salary he earns as a teacher. Though each understands the other well, they fail to get along:

He understood because, like her he had been defeated too; like her

he was a victim. Although each understood the secret truth about the

other, it did not bring about any closeness of spirit, any comradeship",

because they also sensed that two victims ought to avoid each other, not yoke together, their joint disappointments. A victim does not look to help from another victim; he looks for a redeemer. (IC 68)

This lack of togetherness combined with his idea of being a victim alienates him both from his wife and his only child, Manu. In a desperate attempt to escape from a terrible sense of isolation, he seeks refuge in the fantasy world of Urdu poetry where he hopes to find happiness.

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