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Representation of Women in Shashi Deshpande's short stories ("Why a Robin?" and "My Beloved Charioteer")

Representation of Women in Shashi Deshpande's short stories ("Why a Robin?" and "My Beloved Charioteer")

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Published by lubna_rahman2002
this paper deals with Shashi Deshpande's less known short stories. a famous novelist and known for her great novels, she was a short story writer too. this paper is an attempt to make a couple of her works more known to the readers interested in her works.
this paper deals with Shashi Deshpande's less known short stories. a famous novelist and known for her great novels, she was a short story writer too. this paper is an attempt to make a couple of her works more known to the readers interested in her works.

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Published by: lubna_rahman2002 on Apr 15, 2013
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Rehman 1
Lubna RehmanM.Phil English Second Semester Open House presentation15
th
April 2013
Representation of Women in Shashi Deshpande’s
short stories
Why a Robin?
and
MyBeloved Charioteer 
 
Shashi Deshpande said “What we want to reach at finally is the telling, the breaking of silence.”
1
 This is precisely what her short stories explore. Deshpande makes gender central to her writing.Her works deal not only with women in urban, ordinary situations but stem from a firm belief that our lives are greatly governed by gender. Moreover, women have been conditioned by mythto a great extent: to be as pure as Sita, as loyal as Draupadi, as beautiful as Laxmi or as strong asDurga. Deshpande feels that a woman does not start to form her image on a clean slate at all. Theimage is already formed through myths, movies or current day soap operas.
Why a Robin
and
My Beloved Charioteer 
discard this set notion and root a new way of representing women altogether. The former is a story of a mother daughter relationship as well as
a woman’s role as a wife. Both these stories examine the problematic
s of domestic relationships.Where
Why a Robin?
depicts a mother as human and not an emblem of idealization in everywhich way,
My Beloved Charioteer 
 
also depicts a mother’s nature and behavior not as a
1
 
Said so in an interview with Romita Chaudhury,
World Literature Written in English, 1995
.
 
 
Rehman 2
goddess but as a normal human being full of negatives as well as positives, full of emotions aswell as frustrations and not a perfect being.
Why a Robin?
is a story of a little girl who needs to present a school assignment on the bird
Robin. Unaware of the creature she decides to take her mother’s help. The mother has no
knowledge of the bird because of which she is of no use to the child and the child bitterlyridicules her and instead takes help from her father. Through this moment the mother not onlyrealizes her lack of knowledge but also her lack as a mother. She asks
her child “Why a Robin?Why not a peacock?”
The mother is extremely disappointed at herself and furthermoremelancholic as the child has no attachment with her. The last scene shows the little girl cryingdue to stomach ache. It is then that a certain bond is formed between the woman and the woman-to-be. The mother then gives her hot milk and narrates her her own first time experience of thisstomach pain. It is from here that the child realizes that she needs her mother as much as she
needs her father. In her sleep she says “I will ask my teacher tomorrow, why not a peacock? WhyOnly Robin?” and dozes off.
 One representation of the story and so the mother figure can be in the stereotypical form wherethe woman is secluded not only as a wife but also as a mother. She has a forever craving for lovefrom her husband and child and to receive that she tries to bridge the gaps between the two bonds. She tries to please her daughter by willing to narrate to her her experience with a peacock,
and also take care of her husband’s needs and comforts; but all to no avail. The story ends on a
 positive note where her daughter finds peace with the mother and that is the only and forever happiness for her mother. Needless to say, just like it is supposed to be for a mother figure.
Why a Robin?
treats of the dilemma of a woman who feels that her existence in her house is a pain as there was no point of contact between her world and those of her husband and her little
 
Rehman 3
daughter. Even after laboring persistently for them and whittling down all her hopes, her  presence remains unacknowledged. But one day the gulf between her and her daughter is bridgedwhen the daughter serendipitously encounters puberty and the neglected mother provides thenecessary comfort and assurance.
The protagonist says “They…talk of many things, ignoring me…An outsider in my own home.
Have they locked me out
or have I locked myself in? They look at me, without seeing me.”
 Looking at the story from a different perspective one can say that even though the mother is not
“seen” as she wants to be seen, is
represented as passive and withdrawn, she is not wholly a sorryfigure and neither is she fulfilling the demands of the stereotypical notion of a mother or a wifeor a woman. The story depicts a mother being human and not as a mother is supposed to be as per the society. She has desires, is lacking in capabilities, is passive but has authority too. A blend of good and bad, she is represented as an ordinary person. She is authoritative with theservant, passive with the husband and helpless with the daughter. On the one hand where one can
say that she is unable to cope up with her daughter’
s generation, feels isolated, and is unwillingto change the set rules and duties of a wife towards her husband; one can complicate the issue bysaying that by simply bein
g “incapable” as a woman, by
not being goddess- like and just amother and
 by not satisfying the husband’s needs as
a wife, she is unknowingly liberating herself from the set norms for a woman. She is an alienated figure in the family just because she isu
nable to live up to the family’s expectations. But problematizing the issue
one can analyze thissituation as the mother carving a niche for herself, and trying to frame her own identity.Deshpande represents her protagonist not as an epitome of fulfilling every role but a person whohas flaws. Not letting a mother figure be flawless, she is deliberately represented as
a “normal”
 person and is much appreciated.
The daughter in the end clasps the mother’s hand and sleeps.
 

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