Do you think Rakesh would have remained on good terms with his father if he had never left India?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that one of the elements that Desai brings out in the relationship between parents and children is that if children's voices are not authentically validated through parents, it becomes difficult to construct a valid and sustainable relationship.  The relationship between parent and child is shown to be a challenging element in the short story.  It is not as simple as one would consider it to be.  Individuals have to engage in reflection, discourse, and oftentimes, uncover some unsettling truths in order to experience a relationship that is authentic.

This is not done between Rakesh and his parents.  Whether he goes to America or stays in India, it does not seem to matter. Rakesh's "devotion" involves making his parents proud, being a socially acceptable son, and ensuring that his parents are able to point to his own success as a reflection of how good of parents they are.  The "good terms" that we strive to find in their relationship can only happen if there is a sense of openness in discussion and emotional communication.  This does not seem to happen and Desai points to this absence as the reason why their relationship is one in which challenges result.  If Rakesh stays in India, he would have still have had to conform to this notion of "devotion" which is external in nature and one in which there is an absence of clear and open emotional communication about hopes and expectations. Rakesh never is able to activate his own voice for what he wishes to do and his parents never initiate that discussion with him.  It is for this reason that it does not seem to matter if he left or stayed.  The emptiness in their relationship seems to remain no matter what.