What is Anita Desai's writing style in Clear Light of Day?

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lprono | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

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The writing style of Clear Light of Day takes its readers back to the tragic events of Partition in 1948 and then forward to see how those events have influenced the rationship between the two Das sisters, Bim and Tara. Of the novel's four sections, the first and the last are in the fictional present, while the two central ones are flashbacks. Within the flashbacks, the narration does not follow a strictly chronological order but follows the working of the sisters' memories, juxtaposing events through childhood associations. The psychological investigation of the difficult relationship between the two sisters is intertwined with imagery and symbols that stress decay and stagnation. Significantly, the novel opens with Bim's description of Old Delhi as "a great cemetery, every house a tomb. Nothing but sleeping graves" (5). These images contribute to increase the sense of claustrophobia and entrapment felt by the chracters. This feeling of entrapment markedly contrasts with Bim's realization, once she has gone through and partially solved her family's conflicts and tensions at the end of the novel, that "her own house and its particular history" did not bind the family "within some dead and airless cell" (182). On the contrary, Bim compares past family history to a fertile soil that can help the different characters develop their inner selves.

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