Although The Crow Eaters is set in the early twentieth century, it falls within the postcolonial category largely because of the author’s treatment of the impact of colonialism on South Asian people. Writing about a period beginning about a half century before Partition, Bapsi Sidhwa anticipates the independence movement—both the factors that fueled it and the consequences of its success.
The Junglewalla family, especially Faredon, is emblematic of the ideas and behaviors that both enabled British imperialism and enriched some indigenous people. Using an Anglicized name, Freddy adopts an entrepreneurial stance and takes advantage of opportunities that the colonial economy offers. He moves his family to a different city and becomes a wealthy businessman. He is shown as revering British (and by extension all Western) ways and emulating their customs, furnishings, and dress—a mirage that vanishes when he actually sees London.
As his and Putli’s children grow up, however, the cracks in the system become more apparent. The absolute ceiling that limits native peoples’ ascent in the social ladder is all too apparent. Although politics is not the novel’s focus, the constant background presence of the injustices of colonialism make it clear that only a radical solution will begin to balance the scales.