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The opening pages of Anita Desai's novel clearly show the nervous and impatient nature of the character of Papa. He bosses his daughter Uma around telling her what to do. He does not give her the time to do what he has asked her and he piles up on her new requests. It's not, however, only the father who is impatient and oppresses his daughter with continuous requests. Uma's mother is just as impatient and the narrator refers to the parents not as separate individuals, but as one entity MamaPapa. The mother too has become complicit in the patriarchal system that has kept Uma unhappy and unmarried, a servant for her parents. Their repeated and frenzied requests, paralleled by their movements on the veranda swing, are contrasted with the routine nature of their existence. A veranda swing is usually associated with calm and quiet. Yet, as the narrator observes, "with increasing impatience, they swing and swing" (page 5).
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