Themes and Meanings

(Critical Guide to British Fiction)

In Clear Light of Day, the political implications of Indian independence are reflected in the characters’ inner turmoils. The contradictions between desire and necessity are examined as the shaping forces in the characters’ lives. Finally, Bim and Tara both realize that their present situations result not from the limitations of economic and physical need but are responses to hidden emotional struggles. Exorcising their private ghosts, the women achieve psychic independence, partly a result of their willingness to examine, albeit privately, their carefully protected areas of vulnerability.

Yet the women’s relationship is never sentimentalized. The narrative interpenetration of two complex perspectives, which otherwise remain profoundly separate from each other, makes Bim and Tara’s story a moving and incisive psychological portrait seeking to comprehend the forces of human motivation. Desai narrates events retrospectively and the Das sisters’ return to adolescence and childhood thus achieves psychoanalytic significance. This is not, however, a clinical portrait; presenting events from multiple perspectives reconciles grievances. Desai’s narrative technique provides the human compassion Bim and Tara often lack for each other.