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Copy of A Devoted Son - By: Anita Desai

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amanda bockaj

on 21 February 2014

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Transcript of Copy of A Devoted Son - By: Anita Desai

A Devoted Son - By: Anita Desai
Plot Summary
Silver Crescent moon:
When the father begins sleeping outdoors its symbolic of him losing power in his own home and also highlights how he longs for nature to take him so he can join his wife.
The degree:
Broadly hung up for everyone to see his achieved success which lead him to lose his innocence.
The colour red:
Disorder: Rakesh and Varma continue to challenge each others opinions of right and wrong. Varma feels disrespected as head of the household because he is being treated llke a child by his own son. He feels betrayed for his opinions have become irrelevant.
The colour white:
A heroic character wears white and is pure. This is an ironic symbol because Raskesh is a doctor therefore he is attempting to save his fathers life but in doing so he is overlooking his fathers wants by letting his professional opinion overpower his fathers destroying his relationship with his father which he dedicated his entire life to.
New Criticism
Majority of the story takes place in India and an untold chapter of Rakesh's life takes place in America.
His ruthless efficiency leads him to neglect his fathers wants and reinforce what he needs in his final moments. He was trying to keep his father alive rather than letting him live. He is lacking compassion and empathy towards his father which is a crucial quality a doctor must possess.

"His masterly efficiency was nothing but cold heartlessness, his authority was only tyranny in disguise" (Desai 82)

New Criticism continued

Man vs self:
Rakesh tried to fulfill the expectations that his parents set for him because he doesn't know what he'll do if he loses his father and who he will prove proud. This internal struggle is the resulting factor that contributes to blinding him from his fathers suffering.
Man vs Man:
The evident conflict created between Rakesh and his father Varma is due to the fact his father can't handle the lack of authority he has in the situation and loathes how he must let his son take care of him. Varma considers the restrictions put on him immoral and unfair. Rakesh doesnt take his fathers requests into consideration but is robotic towards his father instead by just continuing to do his job to keep him alive.
His devotion to his family instills a corrupt view of success and along his conquest to attain success he loses his capacity to exercise compassion and empathy resulting in a paramount devotion to his career that dominates his devotion to is family.

The title " A devoted Son" is ironic because Rakeish is originally devoted to his family, part of this devotion consists of his quest to fulfill his parents desire for his own success, this conquest becomes paramount in the end as his devotion to his father and career cloud his perception of his fathers suffering, so while he is still devoted to his father, this devotion is now causing his father grief.
When Rakesh's father begins to feel inferior to his own son and wishes that he could just die already rather than being forced to cling to life with innumerable medications and a strict diet. "A son who actually refused his father the food he craved" (80)
Anita Desai was born in India in 1937 to a German Mother and a Bengali father. Desai attended Delhi University where she studied English literature. She published her first story in a children's magazine at the age of nine followed by her first novel being published in 1963. Her most recent novel was published in 2000; Feasting, Fasting. Anita received a number of international awards and has been short listed for the prestigious Booker Prize three times.
Anita Desai
Anthropological lens
• In Indian culture, to show respect to elders people bow down to touch the elders’ feet which Rakesh numerous times throughout the story. In contrast, respect in Canadian culture is shown through a person’s actions such as greeting someone and shaking their hand.
“Rakesh [...] went up the steps to the veranda where his father sat sipping his morning tea and bowed down to touch his feet” (Desai 75).
• In India it is very rare to have an education and move on to a post-secondary school. The fact that a party was thrown for Rakesh to be accepted to college shows how uncommon this was in their community. In Canadian culture it is expected to have an education and it is more uncommon for someone not to be schooled. Also, when someone is accepted to college or university it is not considered to be a festive event.
“Rakesh was the first son in the family to receive an education, so much had been sacrificed in order to send him to school and then medical college”(76).
Anthropological lens continued

It is expected of Indian children to obey their parents’ wishes and not argue or ignore them. When Rakesh refuses his father’s wishes for more food, Varma saw this as “unheard of” (80). In Canadian culture children, especially at the age of an adult such as Rakesh, are much more independent and disobey their parents frequently.

He stared at his son with disbelief that darkened quickly to reproach. A son who actually refused his father the food he craved?” (80).
Rakesh must go to America to prosper and better his life for there is no hope in Rakesh’s village for success. This implies that American culture is more successful than Indian culture.
Rakesh is also showing signs of slight assimilation into American culture throughout the story such disobeying his father.
At the end of the story he is treated like royalty when he returns home and he is dressed “all in white” (84) showing the more he incorporates with American culture, the more prosperous he becomes.

“At last the sky-blue ambassador arrived, the cricket game broke up in haste, the car drove in smartly and the doctor, the great doctor, all in white, stepped out. Someone ran up to take his bag from him, others escorted him to the steps” (84).
As viewed in a Marxist perspective Rakesh’s family represents the masses of India or (general population) that has been exploited by a dominant class
Rakesh’s family lives in poverty but his parents have worked themselves to the bone to secure a better future for Rakesh
“Rakesh was the first son in the family to receive an education, so much has been sacrificed... at last the fruits of their sacrifice had arrived, golden and glorious.”(76)
Marxism lens
Rakesh’s family lives in poverty but his parents have worked themselves to the bone to secure a better future for Rakesh
“Rakesh was the first son in the family to receive an education, so much has been sacrificed... at last the fruits of their sacrifice had arrived, golden and glorious.”(76)
Rakesh is the perfect embodiment or incarnation of Marxist era, socialist work ethic. In Marxism, the end result is a classless society in which only the hard working could be able to stand out.
Rakesh is stuck in a densely and highly populated lower class environment. His success is used to please his parents but along the way, Rakesh’s devotion to his work and success engulfs the importance of devotion to his parents that germinated his path to success in the first place.
Rakeish, a young boy living with his hardworking parents in a impoverished neighborhood in India strives for success to make his parents proud. Rakeish is a devoted son as a young man who works hard to make the best of his education that his parents have sacrificed so much for him to have. Rakeish, through his devotion, excels in school and is granted a scholarship to the most prestigious medical school in the United States. Rakeish becomes a very successful doctor in a short period of time and returns to India to live with his parents again and agrees to an arranged marriage organised by his mother. Rakeish opens up his own practice and starts a family, shortly after his mother passes and his father becomes depressed and soon after falls ill. Rakeish makes it his duty as a devoted son to prolong his father’s life as long as he cane no matter what the cost, even if it costs his father’s enjoyment and quality of life.
Discussion Questions
1. If the story's setting was switched to the united states and Rakesh's family embraced western culture how would the story change?
2. Do you think Rakesh would have remained on good terms with his father if he had never left India?
3. Why are the themes that emerge out of Desai's " A Devoted Son" short story representative of important thoughts about life?
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