What is the theme of Kanthapura by Raja Rao?

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

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The most powerful themes from Rao's work come from the retelling the success and struggle of the Indian independence movement.   This notion of struggle and perseverance is something that can be applied to both Gandhi and Moorthy in their attempts to bring about change to all of India.  On a more literary level, I think that the theme of activism and seeking change is vitally important to the novel.  The theme of action and being an active agent in one's own environment is an idea that resonates clearly in the work.  Rao is deliberate in tying this into both literary and political threads.  The women in the village are relegated into a role of political and social activity at the exposition of the work.  The Status Quo does not favor their possession of political or social power.  Yet, at great cost to them, the women show and display power and voice.  Recognizing the need to protect their own dignity and senses of self, Rao shows that power and voice are ends that anyone can and should activate.  It is this political idea that Gandhi advocated and a literary one that is explored in Rao's work.

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