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Title: The ‘devi’ and the ‘dasi’: Understanding the identity constructions of Indian womanhood in Ismat Chugtai’s “The Homemaker”
Authors: Chanda, Koyel
Keywords: devi
Issue Date: 2020
Publisher: Vidyasagar University , Midnapore , West Bengal , India
Series/Report no.: Journal of the Department of English;Vol 13 No 1 [2020]
Abstract: The gender dichotomy practiced by western philosophy does not inform the gendered constructions of South Asia. In fact it is caste and class, more than sex that form gender identities and patterns in India. Subhadra Mitra Channa, in her notable work, Gender in South Asia: Social Imagination and Constructed Realities developed a model to understand and analyse how Indian women occupy different standings in India. Through this model, Mitra Channa proves that women and men do not always hold opposing positions in India; rather women are placed in different hierarchical levels to better regulate them within Indian societal structure. Mitra Channa’s model uses the terms ‘devi’ and ‘dasi’ to point out to this categorization of Indian women. The ‘devi’ refers to upper class/caste, asexual, chaste, devoted, domestic married women whereas the ‘dasi’ is used for a woman of lower class/caste who does menial jobs, is sexually promiscuous and whose body is easily accessible. Though Channa Mitra did not apply this model on Islamic society or its women, I have used this model to analyse a short story named “The Homemaker” by Ismat Chugtai. Chugtai’s story deals with the promiscuous servant girl Lajjo who is forced to marry her master Mirza. Thus she occupies both the positions of the ‘devi’ and the ‘dasi’. The objective of my paper is to understand the implications of these constructed identities in the life of Indian woman.
ISSN: 09733671
Appears in Collections:Journal of the Department of English - Vol 13 No 1 [2020]

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