Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 571
In an interview, Bapsi Sidhwa insisted that she was not writing “overtly feminist literature” in The Bride; she went on to explain that she wanted the ideas to be embedded in the novel itself and added that she has little use for “didactic fiction.” Certainly, in this book she succeeds in avoiding didacticism and integrating theme with the essential ingredients of plot, character, and setting. The novel is constructed with admirable economy as it unfolds a complex story, introduces and develops numerous characters, and creates settings both exotic and realistic.
Because Sidhwa was writing in English about a non-Western society, she needed to forge new methods of storytelling. First, the story had to appeal to Asian readers of English familiar with the world she was re-creating. Second, the narrative needed to be clear and meaningful to the English-language reader abroad, who might be altogether unfamiliar with Pakistani history and traditions. She could not appear to be condescending to either group of readers by explaining too much, nor could she withhold details from her international audience. The Bride, Sidhwa’s first novel but the second to be published, had a good reception in Europe and the United States as well as in Pakistan and India.
Perhaps that acceptance has been attributable in large part to the simplicity of the prose and the force of the action. A prime example of these qualities is the few pages that cover the violence accompanying the partition of India and the subsequent creation of Pakistan. These historical details also set the plot in motion. At the outset Sidhwa explains how the partition tragedy came about:The earth is not easy to carve up. India required a deft and sensitive surgeon, but the British, steeped in domestic preoccupation, hastily and carelessly butchered it. They were not deliberately mischievous—only cruelly negligent! A million Indians died.
This spare unfolding of events continues throughout in a manner just as vivid as the account of the senseless bloodshed that dominated partition; for example, Zaitoon’s struggle in the mountains is told with a similar narrative force.
The settings, whether the crowded streets of Lahore or the grandeur of the Himalayas, spring to...
(The entire section contains 571 words.)
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