More than Victims: Versions of Feminine Power in Bapsi Sidhwa’s Cracking India

Main Article Content

Jacquelynn M Kleist


On a surface level, the women in Bapsi Sidhwa’s Cracking India appear to be entirely victimized:  the female inhabitants of Ranna’s village are brutally beaten and raped, Ayah is forced into a life of prostitution, and Lenny and her mother are unable to intervene.  Accordingly, critics have focused on the oppression of women in Cracking India and other partition literature; Ananya Kabir points out how the violence of the partition "is primarily inscribed on the body of women...[who] bear the additional burden of gender."  While I acknowledge that the female characters in Sidhwa’s text are outwardly disempowered -- religious, economic, and social life could all be classified as male domains, with men serving as both the principal authorities and agents of change--I assert that these women are also, in many situations and senses, able to possess and exert power over their circumstances.  In this paper I explore how the unique feminine connections to the communal, the traditional, and the familial provide women with an exclusive power through which they are able to subvert patriarchal authority.  Rather than simply perceiving Sidhwa’s women as disempowered and victimized, I examine how the female characters in Cracking India demonstrate not only survivorship, but also agency, using their unique connections and abilities to bring healing. 

Article Details

Refereed Articles (Humanities)
Author Biography

Jacquelynn M Kleist, Kansas State University

Graduate StudentKansas State University English Dpt.