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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 135

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One theme of The Glass Palace is the conflict between notions of free will and determinism. Each of the characters, most notably Rajkumar, believed to be exploring the world and making decisions freely. However, we find that Rajkumar's development as an individual is contingent on a passage through institutions in which he learns to internalize social norms. Rajkumar is therefore both free and not free, depending on one's attitude towards the constraints that individuals live with.

Another theme is the delocalizing and de-nationalizing power of modernity. Many of the characters have identities that cannot be expressed or recognized through reference to a set of institutions, national histories, or other categories. Rather, Ghosh conceives of the modern subject more as a multitude of emotional and ideological affinities that is impossible to comprehend using a traditional narrative.