Both Argon and Dhowli are young and have a desire to get a partner who will love them just right. They feel empty inside and a strong desire that pushes them to seek out love in the hope of filling the deep void inside. They make decisions which show that they are desperate for love. Argon through his magic chalk and a desire to create a new world just like Adam and eve in the garden of Eden, remembers that he had bought a newspaper which he had not read for a while (Reimer and Gessel 3). In the newspaper, Argon sees the photograph of Miss Nippon and becomes obsessed with her and tells himself that all this time what he needed was a woman to love him just like Adam was given Eve by God.
Argon starts drawing a naked woman whom he calls Eve and Miss Nippon appears in his room. They start a conversation and demands that he dresses her up just the way he is dressed, but Argon turns down this request by insisting that she is Eve and him Adam. Miss Nippon requests him to let her go after some conversation, but Argon turns her request down again. She then trick him and asks for half his chalk and she starts drawing a pistol and later a hammer. She uses the hammer to break the door and escapes after shooting Argon with the pistol. When neighbors come to his rescue, Argon has already been transformed into the wall and he is on top of Eve. The apartment manager then asserts that Argon needed love and companionship.
On the other hand, Dhowli’s husband died, leaving her behind as a widow. Her mother went to take her back home, but she does not give up on love. She yearns for someone who can love her and give her hope in life. Dhowli hopes that she can surpass the caste system of India and get her man who will not abuse her like a dead husband, but one who will love and compliment her beauty (Murphy, Gifford, and Yamazato 320). She falls for Misra and becomes pregnant by him, but instead of taking responsibility for Dhowli’s pregnancy and her baby, he runs away from the village and stays away for a long time after being forced by his parents. Dhowli’s mother puts pressure on her to take a traditional medicine to abort the baby so that they could not be thrown away from the village. However, Dhowli resists her mother’s attempt because she reasons that the child was as a result of love. In addition, Brahman, another Misra man falls in love with Dhowli and does all what he could to make her fall for him but she does not reciprocate the feeling. However, after the young Misra keeps on pursuing her, she falls for him and hopes that they can get married. She later discovers that she is pregnant and informs the young Misra about it who agrees to take full responsibility of the baby, but he is forced to abandon her. Dhowli and the young Misra are deeply in love as evidenced by the boy’s depression when Dhowli had initially rejected him and later making his mother swear that they will not starve Dhowli and her mother to death. This brings out the idea of love in both stories.
The Idea of Disillusion
Dhowli and Argon are both young and are passing through difficult moments in their lives. Both are poor, which contributes to their current state of disillusionment and compels them to evaluate their lives. Argon is disillusioned because he has sold everything in his small room in order for him to get food. The only thing that is remaining in his room is only a small chair at the corner placed against the wall. Argon has sold his bed, beddings, television, cooking utensils, sofas, and everything else that was valuable in his room. He was left without a bed and he is forced to sleep on the floor, which makes it very difficult for him to fall asleep. When he manages to close his eyes, it is only one eye that closes first before the other one closes giving him distorted sleep with nightmares.He dreams that he is being chased a huge beast and that he has fallen out of his bed. In addition, Argon does not have any food in his house and is troubled by the sweet aroma coming from across the street and downstairs from his neighbor. He decides to use his magic chalk to draw a big apple on the wall, a jammed bread, butter, coffee, and other foodstuffs and imagines that he is having a proper meal. However, when he wakes up, he realizes that it was just a dream and only a stick is in his pot. He goes to the town where he meets up with his old friend who works at the bank and gives Argon half his meal for lunch. When Argon returns home there is no food and the situation persists for four weeks until he makes up his mind to go and collect the leftovers from the bakery across his room. In addition, Argon is desperate for love and he decides to draw Miss Nippon using his magic chalk. All these events bring out the theme of disillusionment in this short story. The author paints a picture of a young man who is suffering because of his career choice and has a desire to change his fortunes but unfortunately he is unable. This disillusionment is also the cause of his death since he reasons that by giving Miss Nippon half of his chalk she would love him and stay by his side, but instead she ends up killing him.
Dhowli is disillusioned by the caste system in India and she hopes to overcome it and get married to her new lover after the death of her husband. However, because she is a Dusad widow, the family of the young Misra cannot allow her to get married to their son. Instead the Kundalin threaten to kill Dhowli and her mother, leading to more desperation. In addition, the death of her father led to the Kundalin getting back their land lease and leaving them at the mercy of their rich masters. Dhowli is disillusioned by the amount of poverty that surrounds her and her family who come from the poor Dusad clan. This means that she cannot get formal education which would have enabled her to better their lives. Moreover, when she finally gives birth, she does not receive any help from the young Misra who has already married by this time. These events bring out the theme of disillusion in both novels.
The Idea of Gender Inequality
Both Mahasweta Devi and Kobo Abe paint a picture of gender inequality through the characters of Dhowli and Argon. Argon has drawn a naked Eve, whereas himself is dressed up in modern clothes. Miss Nippon tries to reason up with him to give her back her clothes, but he is adamant and does not give in to her demands. In addition, Argon tells Eve that she needs to conceive so that the world will not become extinct. However, Miss Nippon values her body since she is a model and she is not yet to settle down and have a family. She tells him that she is for birth control and besides, she does not even love babies. Argon becomes insistent that he needs a child, but they argue for some time before telling him that she needs to go and perform for her clients who are waiting for her. Argon yells at her in a violent voice when she becomes insistent that she wants to leave. These events show how the patriarchal society treats women as less important and that they should just submit to the will of a man without questions. Women are supposed to follow orders issued by their men to make them happy at the expense of the women’s happiness. It is unfair for Argon to insist that Eve have children against her will and force her to stay with him even if she does not have any feelings for him.
The caste system brings out gender inequality in Devi’s story. Women are seen and treated as inferior to men without any power in the society. Men could take advantage of any woman they liked without facing any consequences, and women getting blamed for it. In addition, women could not own land, nor get married once their husbands died. In contrast, men could get married as many times as they liked when their women passed away. The Dusad women being at the lowest caste in India, were even at a greater disadvantage. In Abe’s story, women are starting to gain gender equality since they can fight for their rights, as opposed to Devi’s story where there is no gender equality.
Murphy, Patrick D., Terry Gifford, and Katsunori Yamazato. Literature of Nature : An International Sourcebook. Chicago, Ill: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 1998. Print.
Rimer, J T., and Van C. Gessel. The Columbia Anthology of Modern Japanese Literature. New York, N.Y: Columbia University Press, 2005. Print.
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