Anita Desai's "Village By The Sea": Chapter 1, Part 1

1711 words - 7 pages

The first chapter of Village by the sea uses a technique called the 'Adverb of time'; this is when the whole scene follows a certain order from first to next. The effect of this is to give the reader a picture of the whole day in the village. The whole of the first chapter focuses on depicting the life of Hari's family; this is a stereotype of the village. They are similar to the 'voice of the village', as most of the other villagers are either at poverty level or slightly better in their economic standings.

The chapter commences with the scene of Lila; Hari's sister, going to the beach. There are lot of images of birds and flowers. The emptiness and isolation of the beach is brought out in, "no one had walked on it except the birds". "Scarlet hibiscus blooms, sweet-smelling spider lilies and bright butter-yellow allamanda flowers", Desai uses the detailed description of the flowers and the bright colors to set optimism in the beginning of the story. The customs of the village are brought out when she "waded out into the waves" and she "daubed" the rocks with "red and white powder". She and the other villagers thought it was "the sacred rock, a kind of temple in the sea". She scatters the flowers and prostrates to the rock. This is a special time for Lila before she is caught up with her daily routine. There is a contrast between the "cold, whispering waves" and the sun rays "warmth" showing the diverse effects of nature. The village being a fishing hamlet, had its fleet of fishing vessels in the horizon of the ocean, that would not return to till sundown. The other women in the village would pray for the "safety of the fishermen at sea", while others would say a "greeting to God". They all felt that it was a "good way to start the day". They also had no specific reason for praying to this rock over others, except for its convenience. The real reveal of the poverty came when they did not want to give money for "puja" to a priest. The women are also very independent and in regard to the puja, they "preferred to do it themselves".

The family poverty is further explained through a flashback when Lila's "father still owned a boat and went to sea to fish" and "her mother used to bring flowers to this rock in the sea". The reality is that Lila's father "sold his boat to pay his debts" and "her mother was too ill and weak to get out of her bed" and "it was Lila who came to begin the morning with an offering of flowers to the sea". The grief that Lila faces causes her to believe that this time of the day was "the only perfectly happy and peaceful one", this could be due...

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