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‘The Subaltern Surely Speaks’: S.R. Harnot’s Epical Vision of Women in “The Slur” and “Daarosh”

Khem Raj Sharma

Assistant Professor of English, Central University of Himachal Pradesh

Volume 2, Number 2, 2017 I Full Text PDF

Article DOI:  10.21659/bp.v2n2.06

In contemporary world, feminists have gone beyond the idea of discrimination, exploitation and marginalization of women; they are rather working towards their emancipation and liberation from all forms of oppression by the state, society and men. Feminism, therefore, now includes the struggle against women’s subordination to the male within the home; against their exploitation by the family; and against their continuing low status at work, in society and in the culture and religion of the country. Consequently, they seek a just and equitable society for all, thereby achieving a dignity for women. In the Indian society, the seeds of feminism are in every woman. To become a feminist, one doesn’t need to know the words, or the jargon, nor be equipped with theory. All that is needed is a recognition of patriarchy and the courage to put an end to injustice, male discrimination and double standards. Also, these subalterns couldn’t remain silent for a long time. If the silence could prove as a ploy for resistance, then they would remain silent, otherwise, violence, verbal as well as non-verbal, may come up to cope up the situation.

Based on this hypothesis, this paper critiques the rise of female consciousness in S. R. Harnot’s short stories “Daarosh” and “The Slur”. Situated in the backdrop of Himachal, Harnot has articulated the silence of the Pahari women to position them against any patriarchal domination prevalent in the state. The fight of an educated village girl against an unusual tradition in “Daarosh” voices the long silence of women of a particular area. The paper also evaluates how Shama, a widow, in “The Slur” articulates against the awful patriarchy prevalent in her home, village, panchayat and the vicinity.

The earlier propositions by various theorists that the subalterns cannot speak either for themselves or for others, and even others cannot speak for them have been proving wrong. Looking at various literatures of the world over, it seems that the subalterns have surely spoken, however, their denigration, exploitation, and victimization remains at the backdrop of their voicing, transgression and resisting. B. R. Ambedkar has argued that “unlike a drop of water which loses its identity when it joins the ocean, man does not lose his being in the society in which he lives […] Man is born not for the development of the society alone, but for the development of his self.” (n.pag.) He writes this because he knows that this nation need not necessarily represent the ‘self’ of the subalterns collectively. As they have been the worst victims of the social stratification, so, for the assertion of their identity, they surely come to the fore by transgressing those social codes that had been demeaning them for long. Everywhere, the subalterns are made to believe that the justice will eventually prevail; however, this notion of prevalence is a continuing saga in the statute culture of the civilized world. So, the subalterns will never accept the premise that this farcical exercise will help emancipate them…Full Text PDF