Character or The Female Narrator  Term Paper

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The protagonist's resistance is thus effective, psychologically in the sense that the fire-watcher has been given a gift that other members of society and the world might lack, a sense of his own personal ineffectuality, true, but also a sense of the ultimate transience of all human desires for boundaries and possession. This does not necessarily provide a solution to the problem of social marginalization, or of the historical conflicts presence in Israel and waged in the political sphere, but it does provide a certain ideological 'gift' to the marginalized man.

In contrast, Anita Desai's short story is more lighthearted in its analysis of cultural marginalization. In her story, the central protagonist travels to another city in India and establishes a career for herself, quite contrary to how she has been taught to live. The central, female protagonist does not fall into the conventional mode of simply marrying an acceptable boy, chosen as her husband. She seeks liberation through pursuing an apparently marginalized life that her parents and relatives would despise or find unacceptable.

Desai's story highlights some of the problems, however, of a woman finding liberation through the tools of modernization. When a woman rejects traditional modes of femininity, she must ask herself, what cultural modes of identity and the self can she accept? Often, the most available cultural accoutrements for creating a female identity however are equally superficial and limiting as traditional ones, revolving around the modes of dress and sexuality. Even the choice of a career and a new city where the protagonist is more anonymous is not necessarily liberating, because the new methods...
...However, the limited nature of travel and occupation, even education to create a new identity is also shown in a parallel male struggle to do the same through traveling to America.

Both stories thus illustrate the limits of place in terms of conferring an identity upon an individual. The protagonist of the Israeli writer's story should have found his sense of place, according to the dictates of his society, in a Jewish homeland. But he has not. Instead, he has only found marginalization and alienation in the form of his occupation as a fire-watcher, and his status makes him further conscious of the limited notions of identity as they relate to place -- his supposed source of physical identity can be eaten by a fire that rages out of control, or by the fires of Palestinian nationalization that eat up the territory of homeland.

The protagonist of the Indian writer's tale hopes that her residency in a new city, albeit one within her own homeland, will give her a new identity and a new sense of place. But she cannot escape notions of feminine subjectivity and what it means to be a good or bad Indian woman. She remains on the periphery, no matter where she may wander. Her supposed chosen husband has fled to America, seemingly to take his Indian identity intact to that nation, and to return 'the same' only with a good degree and education. Yet he has been changed by his educational and life circumstances abroad, through being both assimilated and marginalized in another nation.

One can never fully escape society -- that is the paradox of marginalization. One is always in dialogue with a larger language and culture ideal than the individual self. Nor can one choose the nature of the dialogue, which may vary depending on one's gender, occupation, and class or cultural status. However even if one cannot completely shirk society and one's marginalized status as a reaction to a homogeneous identity, still the process of resisting marginalization or homogenization is itself interesting and beneficial to the self, and does some work to highlight the contradictions and strictures under which…

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