Clear Light of Day

by Anita Desai

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How is Tara characterized in Anita Desai's Clear Light of Day?

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On the surface Tara is the opposite of her elder sister Bim: she has married a diplomat and moves into the circles of India's up and coming elite. While her sister Bim has remained confined in the decaying family home, Tara has moved out of that house and has followed her husband on his various missions all over the world. Yet, just like the history teacher Bim, Tara too feels the need to reconnect herself with her family past, and, during the course of the novel, she will reject the role of sheltered wife that she embraced to escape family pressures and frustrations. To discover her true character and become fully emancipated, Tara has paradoxically to go back to her childhood home and come to terms with her past. In this the Das family is in a similar condition to India itself. As Tara arrives at Bim's house, while she is leafing through a book of her childhood and a founding text for the Indian nation (Nehru's Letters to a Daughter),

sitting on the stuffed chair, spongy and clammy to touch, she felt that heavy spirit come and weigh down her eyelids and the back of her neck so that she was pinned down under it, motionless

Here the character is clearly described as under the spell of the spirit of her childhood which leaves her motionless. By the end of the novel, however, Tara has progressed to be reconciled with her past and has grown more independent from her husband who has always tried to shelter her and avoid possible worries.

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