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Subjected Subcontinent

Sectarian and Sexual Lines in Indian Writing in English


Eiko Ohira

This book offers a new, complex understanding of Indian writing in English by focusing its analysis on both Indo-Pakistani Partition fiction and novels written by women. The author gives a comprehensive outline of Partition novels in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh written in English as well as an overview of the challenges of studying Partition literature, particularly English translations of Partition novels in regional languages. Featured works include Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, Bapsi Sidhwa’s Ice-Candy-Man, Amitav Ghosh’s Shadow Lines, Meena Arora Nayak’s About Daddy, and Sujata Sabnis’s A Twist in Destiny. The book then moves on to a study of novels by women writers such as Githa Hariharan, Kiran Desai, Anita Desai, and Arundhati Roy, exploring their perspectives on sexuality, the body, and the diaspora.
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Chapter 6: Bapsi Sidhwa’s Ice-Candy-Man: Gender and Conspiracy


← 72 | 73 →CHAPTER 6

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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