In Pinjar, how is religion, violence, and nationalism depicted?

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

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I think that Pritam depicts a setting that is akin to a form of social realism.  She seems very committed to depicting a world that is fraught with brutality, silencing of voice, and extreme forms of marginalization . Yet, through this, Pritam wishes to depict a world of what can and what should be in stark contrast to what is.  For example, the world shown in Pinjar is one of intense violence and nationalism gone amok.  The Partition of India is one that also helped to conceive of another form of "partition" between human beings and humanity.  This is the political setting where women were violated in the most horrific of ways.  The fact that Puro is abducted and forced to remake her Hindu identity into Muslim, down to a change of name, reflects this.  Pritam is making a fairly powerful statement about how Partition was able to link religion and nationalism into a condition of extreme violence against women.  She might have been suggesting that the division of India was a political issue that was disguised under the veil of religion, to ensure complete devotion.  The idea that a "Hindu" majority would constitute India while a "Muslim" majority would form Pakistan was fairly indistinguishable with Hindus and Muslims living together in nearly every village in India.  This political construction done through the mandate of religion created a setting where the riots, violence, and disintegration of social bonds became the results.  For Pritham and her protagonist, Puro, this became a setting where both religion and nationalism resulted in violence against women.  In this light, violence is the result of merging political interests under the shadow of religion, inspiring some fairly heinous acts.  As Puro becomes a force of empowerment at the end of the novel, Pritam is articulating a condition whereby women are able to recognize such constructions and rise against them, replacing the picture of religion and nationalism constructed violence into a new order where voices are acknowledged and experiences validated.

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