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Given the stories, Girls by Mrinal Pande and "The Postmaster" by Ranbindranath Tagore,...

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honeybunny27 | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) Honors

Posted June 13, 2013 at 10:57 AM via web

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Given the stories, Girls by Mrinal Pande and "The Postmaster" by Ranbindranath Tagore, examine what issues are raised about Indian Society.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 13, 2013 at 2:56 PM (Answer #1)

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The original question had to be edited.  I would suggest that the fundamental issue that both works raise about Indian society is the presence of marginalized voices within it.  For Pande, this issue takes the form of how Indian society views girls.  The fact that the narrator lacks a name is a symbolic representation of this condition.  Through her work, Pande is clearly suggesting that Indian society has a fundamental problem with how it treats half of its population.  The need for a boy, the coveting of boys, and the maligning of women, girls, in particular, through marginalization is a significant concern that Pande feels is embedded in Indian society.  For Pande, this condition is the basis of all types of silencing of voice.  When child bearing is only deemed worthwhile because of the gender of the child, Pande is suggesting that there is something wrong with the social order.  This condition of marginalization is something that she suggests must be reexamined in Indian society.

Tagore enters into this discussion with much in the same.  While Ratan is a girl, I think that Tagore is seeking to broaden the issue.  Ratan is an orphan, one that is discarded by the people of Ulapur, wandering around the village with little in way of acceptability.  Her only chance at inclusion comes at the hands of the postmaster, an outsider who is looking to get out of Ulapur.  On one hand, a myopic reading could suggest that the postmaster represents the redemptive element of society.  He would be the urbane and cosmopolitan savior that the rural people of Ulapur are not.  Yet, Tagore makes it clear that there is a problem in Indian society in how there are established hierarchies of "higher" and "lower," insiders and outsiders. The postmaster abandons Ratan in much the same way as the town has.  While he might feel some small moment of guilt about what he does, it gets washed away like water under the boat.  In the ending of the story where Ratan wanders around looking for her "dadababu," there is a clear statement that Indian society cannot progress if there are voices pushed to the side.  Ratan wanders and lives the rest of her life as an outsider.  

For Tagore and Pande, the presence of marginalization in society- through gender or through social condition- is something that Indian society must resolve if it wants to claim the mantle of "progress."

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