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Last Updated on August 30, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 527

The book uses humor and drama to elaborate on the need for striking the right balance in life with respect to relationships and between materialism and contentment. The conflicts between Jagan and his son Mali arise because of a clash between tradition and modernity.

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The following quotes give the reader a sense of what's going on in the minds of the characters in the novel.

I've taken to eating beef, and I don't think I'm any the worse for it. Steak is something quite tasty and juicy. Now I want to suggest why don't you people start eating beef? It'll solve the problem of useless cattle in our country and we won't have to beg food from America. I sometimes feel ashamed when India asks for American aid. Instead of that, why not slaughter useless cows which wander in the streets and block the traffic?

This quote is from a letter that Mali wrote to Jagan after he had been in the U.S for around three years. It caused great anguish to Jagan. While he enthusiastically shared the contents of other letters with anyone who cared to listen, Jagan could not bring himself to tell his relatives and fellow villagers that his son had started to consume beef—anathema to Hindus.

Conquer taste, and you will have conquered the self.

This is a maxim that Jagan tries to live by. He is follower of Gandhi and tries his best to abide by the principles of simple living espoused by Gandhi. This quote also highlights the clear dichotomy between Jagan's personal lifestyle and his means of earning a living. He is, after all, a vendor of sweets. While he tries to present himself as morally superior by having given up salt and sugar, he actually sustains himself and his family by selling confectionery.

This is Grace. We are married. Grace, my dad.

With this quote, Mali introduces his live-in partner to his father. It serves to further bewilder and ultimately alienate father from son. Jagan is already finding it difficult to...

(The entire section contains 527 words.)

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