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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...

(The entire section contains 554 words.)

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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 something to either congratulate or scorn—it simply was."

Addressing Asha, Mala's sister, with his writing, Tyler says,

I wonder at how many of us, feeling unsafe and unprotected, either end up running far away from everything we know and love, or staying and simply going mad. I have decided today that neither option is more or less noble than the other. They are merely different ways of coping, and we each must cope as best we can. You see, Asha, I must rationalize your leaving and her staying—and, as many see it—going mad.

Rather than stay at home with a father who rapes her and Mala, who does her best to protect Asha, Asha runs away, leaving Mala alone with their father. Likewise, Lavinia, their aunt, and Sarah, the girls' mother, ran away years before, leaving the girls behind. One might be tempted to judge these women for leaving the children or to judge Asha for leaving Mala, knowing what their father is. However, Tyler refrains from such judgment. So many people feel unsafe and unprotected in different ways, and it seems unfair to judge someone's behavior under such circumstances. We need to feel safe and protected in order to be our best selves.

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