Oppression Themes of Oppression in Thesis

Excerpt from Thesis :

There is a sense that nothing changes and that there is no excitement or real purpose in Luis' life, which is what causes him to borrow the car and go for a drive on the night of the story -- a much tamer activity than those he gets up to with his gang. This shows that Luis is already beginning to find his path to liberation from his oppression; he no longer depends on the attitudes and admiration of his gang to have a sense of himself. His connection with Naomi and his self-directed purpose that come at the end of the story, especially following his outpouring of grief, signal his growing freedom.

The arc of oppression and liberation is not so clear in Lahiri's "Heaven-Hell." The oppression most definitely exists, but is lurks underneath the surface of what appears to be a moderately happy life for both the narrator and the narrator's mother. They are Bengali and living in England, and for the mother especially there is a sense of cultural oppression as she was married to a much older man -- the narrator's father -- in an arranged union and remains faithful to him despite the fact that they have nothing in common. At the same time, however, the mother seems to belong in her culture, and disapproves of her daughter's tendencies to act like her English friends -- and her attraction to English boys. Even the method of committing suicide that the narrator's mother contemplates, setting herself on fire in a carefully and tightly pinned sari, reflects the culture that is the mother's heritage and bondage. This act, though abandoned, is one of both freedom in that it liberates the mother from the life she is trapped in with her husband, and of oppression in that it will painfully end her life in a manner that is both physically and symbolically oppressive.

The types of oppression and methods for escaping it that these two stories present are very different in some ways. In "Catch the Moon," Luis has to find freedom both within himself and in the world outside himself (as exemplified in Naomi), as these are the two sources of his oppression. His mother's death has caused an internal grief that Luis has not acknowledged, and he cannot move forward until this has happened. At the same time, he views the outside world with mistrust, and as something that only works if he is deliberately manipulating it. Naomi provides a window (literally and symbolically, in the story) through which Luis is able to see another way of being with the world that expands his opportunities. In "Hell-Heaven," the narrator's mother is also caught between external and internal forces, but there does not seem to be an end to the oppression. She cannot abandon her family or her culture, as this would lead to only a different form of internal and external oppression. instead, she succumbs to the external demands of her and her internal feelings of guilt and shame, staying with a husband she does not love.

Ultimately, both Luis and the mother in "Hell-Heaven" both find peace, to whatever degree they can, in love. The budding romance between Luis and Naomi is only hinted at, but already it seems to promise good things for him. In "Hell-Heaven," the mother finally acknowledges her feelings to help the narrator, her daughter, through her own pain. In this way, she is able to both fulfill her familial duty and overcome her internal conflicts, lifting the oppression of her secret feelings through the love that she can fully express.

Cite This Thesis:

"Oppression Themes Of Oppression In" (2009, November 15) Retrieved May 24, 2020, from

"Oppression Themes Of Oppression In" 15 November 2009. Web.24 May. 2020. <

"Oppression Themes Of Oppression In", 15 November 2009, Accessed.24 May. 2020,