‘A pleased, new Dulan’: Reading Fanon’s theory of counter-violence in Mahasweta Devi’s ‘Bichhan’

Bipranarayan Bhattacharyya

PhD Research Scholar, Kazi Nazrul University, Asansol. orcid.org/0000-0003-4762-7655. Email: bipranarayan91@gmail.com

  Volume 1, Number 3, 2016 I Full Text PDF

Article DOI:  10.21659/bp.v1n3.s105

Abstract

This paper tries to draw a comparison between the idea of counter-violence as portrayed in Mahasweta Devi’s short story ‘Bichhan’ and Algerian thinker Frantz Fanon’s theory of counter-violence as explained in his work The Wretched of the Earth. Though Fanon’s theory was formulated in the context of French imperialism in Algeria, the oppression suffered by the Dalits in Mahasweta’s story share significant similarities with the violent inequality of a colonised society. Both Fanon and Mahasweta firmly disavow non-violence as a viable means for solving social inequality. Much like Fanon’s natives, the Dalits in Mahasweta’s story are perfectly aware of the unjust nature of the higher castes’ oppressive violence, and like the black native they proclaim their selfhood through rhythm and poetry. The conflict between the landlord Lachman Singh and the Dalit peasants proceed almost exactly in the lines of the anti-colonial agitation discussed by Fanon, where gradually escalating violence from both sides ultimately leads to an unusual outburst of murderous emotion as the level-headed, calculative Dulan unexpectedly kills Lachman Singh in single combat. While Fanon considers counter-violence necessary for restoring the despairing native’s dignity and self-belief, Mahasweta shows Dulan’s gloomy and brooding habits passing off after he has committed the violent murder, leaving him a satisfied, socialising man.

Keywords: Mahasweta Devi, Dalits, Frantz Fanon

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