In the opening chapter of The Home and The World, Bimala seems to evoke her mother's tradition- bound aesthetic Hindu womenhood. How then is this sense of self destroyed?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It might be a bit much to say that Bimala's traditional past is destroyed.  Tagore might be suggesting that traditional conceptions of self are challenged when political and social movements are absorbed.  One of the striking elements of the work is the collision between tradition and modernity.  Bimala finds herself challenged by this in how she appropriates her husband, representing tradition, and her affinity for Sandip, representing modernity.  As the Swadeshi and Indian Independence Movement takes a hold of India, one finds that there is this questioning of tradition on multiple levels.  Right or wrong, tradition is associated with foreign control and indigenous freedom is seen in a modern context.  It is here where Bimala has to endure some questioning of her own notion of self.  The identity that her mother possessed, and something that influences her own notion of self, is questioned within the time period where so much is undergoing examination.  Certainly, when Bimala begins to see herself, through Sandip's own charisma, as the "Queen Bee" or the "Mother" of change, it helps to alter the perception of self that was more in line with the traditional notion of woman.  This is where some alteration of self is evident.  It becomes the result of change and the result of social and political transformation of society.  The ending, one in which Bimala recognizes how her affinities had led her astray from appreciating the one who was loyal to her all along, might be a type of affirmation of these traditional notions of the good.  Tagore might be suggesting that with such massive change, individuals might not have to discard that which has helped to define them.  Questioning and examination works both ways and not simply in one direction.

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