The Evolution of Bim
In writing Clear Light of Day’, Anita Desai has brought to out a new and distinct aspect to fiction. She examines deeply the human character and brings them out in a sharper way. The protagonists in her story are not still figures but instead go through a process where they attempt to gain knowledge about themselves and through this go through an evolution that leads them to be more illuminated about their personalities. This paper therefore carries out an analysis of Clear Light of Day looking at how the character Bim goes through an evolution of herself throughout the novel.
Bim, who is the core character within the novel, dreams of a life that is filled with adventure and longs to be both a heroine as well as a rebel. It is ironic that she is the one who remains in one particular place not moving out of Old Delhi. She stays in her childhood home and teaches in same college that she went to as a student but she is not a person who is highly emotional. She does not worry about the present but instead suffers from what happened in the past (Desai 45). She constantly has to deal with the trauma not from a childhood that was troubled or a marriage that broke down. Her sister, Tara, perceives that her sister is a person who is content and who has all that she needs in life. However, this thought quickly changes as Tara begins to learn that Bim is not more or less content than Tara. She is angry and frustrated in much the same way as every other person within their family. However, Bim struggles to ensure that her anguish remains hidden (Desai 49). For over twenty years, Bim constantly subjects herself with the sense of rejection that she felt from being deserted by Raja, her older brother whom she felt a deep admiration for. Raja leaves for Hyder Ali leaving Bim behind in a house that is falling down, an aunt who is alcoholic and a brother with mental problems (Desai 56).
She feels a stronger sense of alienation when Raja marries Benazir and gets five children. He leaves his responsibility to his family completely and this leads Bim to feel betrayed. This causes her to choose a life that is independent which does not include any suitors, leading one, Dr. Biswas to state: “Now I understand why you do not wish to marry. You have dedicated your life to others – to your sick brother and your aged aunt and your little brother who will be dependent on you all his life. You have sacrificed your own life for them” (p. 97). This is a male point of view which refuses to consider that Bim chooses such a life entirely of her own mind. This is because she is too intelligent to tie herself down to any traditions. In choosing such a life, Bim does not accept a life that would lead her to be linked to orders from males (Desai 100). The irony is that her lack of adherence to convention and the alertness of her mental state is what attract men to her. Bim does not realize this and this works to make her even more attractive. She has distinct traits that are masculine, those of being at ease and always adopting an approach that is honest all of which make her unique. She constantly receives admiration for the ideas that she puts forward but she remains a person who is not completely understood (Desai 132). Tara often does not agree or understand her even though she is well aware of the admiration that Bim cultivates in men: “He (Bakul) had always admired Bim, even if she infuriated him often, and Tara sensed this admiration in the murky air. She sensed it with a small prick of jealousy – a minute prick that simply reminded her how very close she was to Bakul, how entirely dependent on him for her own calm and happiness” (p. 150).
Bim shows an acceptance of her family and the aspect of motherhood that is almost heroic and it becomes a key part of the novel. In some way, she represents the author’s vision of how the modern Indian woman should behave. As opposed to the large majority of women, she does not choose to get married and instead decides to become a spinster and take on a career and a life that she accepts in spite of the numerous restrictions that it presents (Desai 156). She does not blindly follow the traditional role that is expected of women, that of simply being an object of desire and a wife who is submissive and therefore becomes, in some part, a woman who is truly independent. Her life, when compared to Tara’s is not ordinary in any sense and subsequently, the dream she had as a child to become a hero is realized. She follows her own thoughts and perceptions faithfully and in deciding not to take on the role of being married woman, she almost gladly takes on the large sacrifice that is required in order to achieve her goal (Desai 158). As a child, she takes on the role of nursing her brother Raja who is infected with tuberculosis and also takes care of her aunt with a lot of care as well as devotion. However, she shows a sense of disappointment with the death of her aunt and the desertion of Raja, who leaves her with ambitions that he later comes to forget (Desai 162). In the end, she remains with Baba, a brother who is an invalid, and she spends the rest of her youth looking after him with a lot of devotion. In this regard, Bim does achieve some success in terms of ensuring that her dream is realized. She gets to practice when she is an adult the dreams that she had as a child (Desai 164).
After the fixing of his daughter’s marriage, Raja sends out an invitation to Tara where he fails to mention Bim. This deepens the hurt and bitterness that Bim feels since she had acted as a type of foster mother to Raja since it reminds her of the letter that Raja left her where he hinted that he wanted to increase the house’s rent. She also comes to the realization over the extent to which time has destroyed the affections that they had between them as children and created a change in the family relationship (Desai 166). One particular night, the realization that she has not been able to come to, suddenly dawns on her, making her burden much lighter. She comes to the discovery that Raja is not a hero and she determines this when she once again reads his letters that had been in her study for over twenty years. She decides that Raja is nothing but an imitator and her decision to perceive him as a hero was a mistake. She feels a sense of relief as the remains that have been collected from the past are removed and instead collects a new form of awareness (Desai 168).
In conclusion, Bim appears to be a figure that stands well ahead of the other women in Clear Light of the Day. She looks at life positively and is a woman who is not only aware of the potential that she has, but also comes to the slow realization that she does not require a man in order to have direction in life. While she does not succeed in her attempt to move beyond her comfort zone, she does achieve an inner awareness that leads her to learn more about herself.
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