Heat and Dust Questions and Answers
by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala

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What are the symbols in Heat and Dust?

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Symbols are used throughout the story, mainly for the purpose of conveying the marked differences between the respective worlds of the Indians and their British colonial overlords. For instance, the kindly peasant women Maji symbolizes divine grace. During moments of distress, both Anne and Inder Lal's mother seek her spiritual wisdom and advice. Maji's character serves to remind us of the fundamental unity of humankind, irrespective of the manifest cultural and racial differences that superficially divide us. In seeking Maji's spiritual counsel, Anne is entering into a whole new dimension, one traditionally closed off from British colonialists. Indeed, religion as a whole is used in the book as an integrating force, one that symbolizes the transcendence of social boundaries.

Symbols are also used to add force to the novel's anti-colonial message. There is the marble angel...

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