Last Updated on August 6, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 554
When Reverend Thoroughly, who adopted Chandin Ramchandin, confronts Chandin about his apparent love for the reverend's daughter, Lavinia, he tells Chandin,
"I have found from experience that to deal with delicate matters too delicately serves only to prolong and unnecessarily muddle discussion."
The truth of this statement plays out several times throughout the novel. Chandin's romantic feelings for Lavinia are prolonged unnecessarily, allowing them time to grow and intensify, when—had he approached her early on—it might have been possible to cut them short and give Chandin the opportunity to move on. Likewise, had Sarah and Lavinia given voice to their feelings for one another earlier, they might have made plans to be together sooner, preventing Sarah from marrying Chandin in the first place. Had Tyler embraced his gender identity earlier, rather than tip-toeing around it in order to avoid gossip, he might have been happier sooner. Had Mala told Ambrose of what was happening with her rapist father, Chandin, their relationship might not have blown up and ended the way it did. It seems that it is best to be direct and forthright, even when dealing with delicate matters—perhaps especially in these cases.
When Mala steals a female nurse's uniform for Tyler to wear, he thinks,
No one had ever done anything like that before. She knows what I am, was all I could think. She knows my nature. I reached for the dress. My body felt as if it were metamorphosing. It was as though I had suddenly become plump and less rigid . . . I felt more weak than excited but I was certainly excited by the possibilities trembling inside me.
For the first time, really, in his life, Tyler feels understood. Not just accepted but understood. His response to being understood helps to illuminate how incredibly significant such understanding is for one's identity. Tyler struggles to understand and express his gender identity in the novel, and Mala's tacit acceptance and understanding of him helps him learn to accept and express himself. When he dons the female uniform, for Mala, "the outfit was not...
(The entire section contains 554 words.)
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