Does Sunlight on a Broken Column by Attia Hosain deal with the exploitation of women?

Sunlight on a Broken Column deals with a woman who goes against the norms of her culture and follows her own path in life. While she is disappointed with the education that she receives in certain respects, it cannot be said that this novel deals with the exploitation of women.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

I would argue that this book is about a young woman’s struggle against a traditional life that is expected of her, rather than exploitation.

From a young age, our protagonist, Layla, is different from other young women in her community because of the fact that her late father requested that she receive a Western education. This she receives, while still adhering to cultural traditions with her aunts. Everything changes, however, when her uncle, Hamid, takes charge of the family. Layla is no longer permitted to voice or live by the ideas which she had learned during the course of getting her education. She is expected, instead, to adhere to her Indian culture and obey the myriad Muslim customs and rules. While Layla certainly becomes more controlled at this stage of her life, I would not describe her situation as being exploited.

Layla later gets to go to college, which is once again a sign that she is not exploited, even if the education she receives is not as “Western” as she would have liked it to be. Over and above that, she meets and marries a man of her own accord, against the wishes of her family. This once again showcases Layla being in charge of her own destiny, rather than being a victim of exploitation.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial