Identify essential themes in Hullabaloo in The Guava Orchard.

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

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One critical theme in Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard is the theme of conformity.  Conformist notions of the good impact characters in the story in different ways.  For example, Sampath cannot embrace the conformity and social expectations that are demanded from him.  This becomes part of the motivating factor in his ascent to the tree in the first place.  Kulfi also represents the theme of conformity and its impact on the individual. The metaphor of Kulfi's insatiable appetite is symbolic of her desire to strive for something more that socially prescribed elements of being in the world.  Her "desperation for another landscape" and desire to see  the freedom potential in food are aspects of her being that causes her to embrace a non- conformist mode of being in the world, another version of Sampath fleeing to the tree.

The flip side to this coin would be the father and sister of the family.  Mr. Chawla perceives oddness and a lack of conformity to be akin to "aches and pains, fits of tears and lethargy."  He is constantly driven to advance his own name, as seen in his initial repulsion towards Sampath climbing the tree and then recognizing that his perceived status as a guru can advance his own name.  Pinky is another example of the conformist structure guiding individual choice and perception.  While she experiences what might be a liberating notion of love with the ice cream boy, she ends up recalibrating this momentary distraction in moving her eyes on the brigadier and the notion of "societal gain" advancing her own desire.  

How individuals deal with the conformist aspect of being is a critical theme in the novel.  Through this, the themes of material advancement and spiritual identity, gender notions of identity, and the relationship between individuals and authority are all illuminated.  The critical theme of social conformity impacts all of the main characters in the narrative.  Their responses to it help to define much of their trajectory and the arc of their development.

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