The numerous characters in this novel demonstrate the sense of community that unifies the plot and gives substance to the political and social conflicts. There is a sense of teeming life, and because the larger question is not about an individual’s fate but about a group destiny, Raja Rao’s mode of characterization is impressionistic. Dialogue is kept to a minimum, and the focus encompasses both the masses in the background and certain salient figures in the foreground.
The female narrator is a medium for storytelling as well as a character in her own right, for she expresses her own radical nature and that of changing India. Though she tells the reader little directly of herself (she admits to owning seven acres of wet land and twelve of dry, it is clear from her mode of speaking that she is willing to accept fundamental social changes. Although she is respectful of Hindu tradition, she is not bound to old ways. She is caught up in all the turmoil, and her at times breathless narration expresses the excitement of the period as well as her own recognition of a movement that is leading to India’s autonomy.
The conflict between acquiescence to time-honored tradition and resistance to old tyrannies is dramatically expressed in the two factions: the Gandhians and their foes. Moorthy is the prime representative of the modern Indian struggling with dignity for freedom. He is linked to Hindu traditions from the outset, for he is the youngest...
(The entire section is 536 words.)