Sectarian and Sexual Lines in Indian Writing in English
Chapter 6: Bapsi Sidhwa’s Ice-Candy-Man: Gender and Conspiracy
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Bapsi Sidhwa’s Ice-Candy-Man: Gender and Conspiracy
Complex Growths: Ice-Candy-Man and Sisterhood
Bapsi Sidhwa’s Ice-Candy-Man (1988; published as Cracking India in the US) is a story of the Partition of India and Pakistan in 1947, when “a mob mentality” surfaced in this politically unstable situation. It is also a modern version of Sita’s tale, the story of Ayah, a woman abducted by mobs, a representative “fallen woman”, and thus a story of violence against women, but more importantly, a story of love and friendship among women and their fight against communalism. Sidhwa (1938-) clearly deals with communal troubles before and after Partition from a feminist point of view. She herself claims to be “a very ardent feminist” (Jussawall 202). So why did she give her novel the title Ice-Candy-Man, the name of an accomplice in the abduction, place him as a central figure, and delineate his psychology in more detail and more subtly than that of Ayah who is “deeply, irrevocably ashamed” (253) and remains silenced like the other abductees, who can only cry, being deprived of their own voices and feelings?
First, let us look at what Sidhwa told Feroza Jussawalls, who interviewed her about Ice-Candy-Man, because her comments are highly suggestive:
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