Juliet provides the focus for the novel’s two-pronged exploration of male/female and North American/South Indian interactions. Much of the novel relates Juliet’s memories and her experience of events. She loves her husband and children but has hated her twelve years in the backwater of Winston; she now finds South India equally debilitating. She feels torn between her desire for action and her need for security. Her former lover Jeremy represents the political engagement for which she longs, while her husband David embodies the detached appreciation of the timeless world of art that she has learned to appreciate during the course of their long relationship. Her marriage has caused her self-image to suffer, but it has also brought her moments of joy and contentment. The year’s sabbatical in India provides her with a new context in which to assess the state of her marriage and contemplate her future.
Her main charge against David is that he keeps only “one kind of evidence.” His memories are not hers. He seems unable to see from her point of view and unable to hear her frequently voiced complaints about Winston and now about India. Yet through their involvement with Prabhakaran and Yashoda, India changes both of them. They are able to apply the lessons they learn from their difficulties in understanding this foreign culture to their personal problems in communicating their differences. As a result, each learns a new tolerance for the other.
The novel opens with the mutual mystery that India and America pose to each other, symbolized in the encounter between Juliet and...
(The entire section is 656 words.)