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BEGE-108: Reading the Novel

BEGE-108: Reading the Novel

IGNOU Solved Assignment Solution for 2023-24

If you are looking for BEGE-108 IGNOU Solved Assignment solution for the subject Reading the Novel, you have come to the right place. BEGE-108 solution on this page applies to 2023-24 session students studying in BDP courses of IGNOU.

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Assignment Code: BEGE-108/TMA/2023-24

Course Code: BEGE-108

Assignment Name: Reading the Novel

Year: 2023-2024

Verification Status: Verified by Professor

Max. Marks: 100

Answer all questions


Q1) Write short notes on any two:

Q1a) Structure and form of the novel.

Ans) The structure and form of a novel are essential elements that shape the way the story is presented to readers. In the case of "Halfway House," a novel by Mohan Rakesh, the structure and form contribute significantly to the narrative and the reader's experience.


  • Chronological Structure: "Halfway House" primarily follows a linear chronological structure. The events in the novel unfold in a sequential order, allowing readers to follow the characters' lives and experiences as they happen. This structure helps create a sense of realism and makes it easier for readers to connect with the characters and their evolving circumstances.

  • Multiple Perspectives: The novel incorporates multiple perspectives, providing insight into the thoughts and feelings of various characters. This multi-perspective approach allows readers to gain a comprehensive understanding of the story's events and the complexities of the characters' lives. It also adds depth to the narrative by revealing different viewpoints and motivations.

  • Flashbacks and Reflections: While the primary structure is chronological, the novel also includes flashbacks and reflective passages. These moments offer glimpses into the characters' pasts, their memories, and their inner thoughts. These narrative techniques contribute to character development and provide context for the characters' present actions and decisions.

  • Parallel Storylines: "Halfway House" features parallel storylines that follow the lives of the two main protagonists, Sudhir, and Maya. These parallel narratives allow readers to observe the characters' individual experiences, aspirations, and challenges. The intertwining of these storylines adds complexity to the novel's structure and highlights the contrasting perspectives of the male and female protagonists.


  • Epistolary Elements: The novel incorporates epistolary elements, including letters and diary entries. These written forms of communication provide insights into the characters' innermost thoughts and emotions. The use of letters and diaries adds depth to the narrative by revealing the characters' vulnerabilities and personal reflections.

  • Dialogue-Driven: "Halfway House" is characterized by rich and meaningful dialogues. Conversations between characters play a crucial role in advancing the plot, revealing their relationships, and conveying the novel's themes. Rakesh's skilful use of dialogue adds authenticity to the characters' interactions and enhances the reader's engagement with the story.

  • Stream of Consciousness: At times, the novel employs stream-of-consciousness narrative techniques. This style of writing allows readers to access the characters' internal monologues and thought processes. It provides insight into their emotions, fears, and desires, enhancing the depth of characterization.

  • Symbolism and Imagery: The novel uses symbolism and vivid imagery to convey themes and emotions. Symbolic elements, such as the titular "Halfway House," serve as metaphors for the characters' journeys and inner conflicts. The use of imagery enhances the novel's poetic and evocative quality.

Q1b) The Indian English Novel after independence.

Ans) The Indian English novel after independence underwent a significant transformation, reflecting the changing socio-political landscape of the newly independent nation. This period saw the emergence of a vibrant literary tradition that grappled with the complexities of post-independence India. Here are some key points about the Indian English novel after independence:

  • Historical Context: With India gaining independence from British colonial rule in 1947, there was a shift in the themes and perspectives of Indian English literature. Writers now explored the challenges of nation-building, identity, and cultural amalgamation in the newly formed democratic republic.

  • Early Pioneers: Writers like R.K. Narayan and Mulk Raj Anand, who had gained prominence before independence, continued to contribute to the Indian English novel. Narayan's "The Guide" and Anand's "The Sword and the Sickle" are notable works from this period.

  • Post-Independence Themes: Indian English novels of this era explored various themes, including the partition of India, the struggle for freedom, the complexities of social reform, and the clash between tradition and modernity. Bhabani Bhattacharya's "So Many Hungers!" and Khushwant Singh's "Train to Pakistan" are examples that delve into these themes.

  • Rootedness in Tradition: Many novelists, like Raja Rao and Kamala Markandaya, sought to retain a connection to India's rich cultural and spiritual heritage while addressing contemporary issues. Rao's "Kanthapura" and Markandaya's "Nectar in a Sieve" exemplify this approach.

  • Urbanization and Change: The rapid urbanization and modernization of post-independence India became a central theme in many novels. Arun Joshi's "The Strange Case of Billy Biswas" and Anita Desai's "Cry, The Peacock" explored the alienation and existential dilemmas faced by individuals in this changing landscape.

  • Feminism and Women's Voices: The Indian English novel after independence also saw the emergence of feminist literature. Writers like Shashi Tharoor, Arundhati Roy, and Manju Kapur began to address issues of gender, identity, and patriarchy in their works. Arundhati Roy's "The God of Small Things" is a significant example.

  • Global Perspective: Indian English novelists increasingly engaged with global themes and reached a wider international readership. Salman Rushdie's "Midnight's Children" and Vikram Seth's "A Suitable Boy" are renowned examples that garnered international acclaim.

  • Experimentation and Innovation: Many writers experimented with narrative techniques and linguistic styles. This period witnessed the rise of postmodern and postcolonial literature, as seen in the works of writers like Salman Rushdie and Arundhati Roy.

  • Diverse Voices: The Indian English novel became more inclusive, representing the voices of marginalized communities, such as Dalits and tribal populations. Writers like Bama and Mahasweta Devi brought attention to the struggles and aspirations of these communities.

  • Contemporary Trends: The Indian English novel continues to evolve, with contemporary authors like Chetan Bhagat, Aravind Adiga, and Jhumpa Lahiri exploring diverse themes, including globalization, migration, and diaspora.

Q2) Would you agree that Dickens is a humanistic writer? Discuss your answer based on your reading of A Tale of Two Cities, No. 1 Branch Line: The Signal and any other novel by Dickens that you might have read.

Ans) Charles Dickens is often regarded as a humanistic writer due to his profound exploration of human nature, social issues, and his compassionate portrayal of characters from various walks of life. This characterization of Dickens as a humanistic writer is evident in several of his works, including "A Tale of Two Cities" and "No. 1 Branch Line: The Signal."

A Tale of Two Cities

In "A Tale of Two Cities," Dickens demonstrates his humanistic perspective through various elements:

  • Social Critique: The novel serves as a scathing critique of the social injustices and inequalities prevalent during the French Revolution and in Victorian England. Dickens sheds light on the suffering of the poor, the callousness of the aristocracy, and the violence and chaos of the revolution. His critique reflects a deep concern for the well-being of society's most vulnerable members.

  • Characterization: Dickens creates a wide array of complex characters, each with their flaws and virtues. Characters like Sydney Carton, who undergoes a transformative journey from a dissolute man to a self-sacrificing hero, exemplify Dickens' belief in the potential for personal redemption and moral growth.

  • Themes of Resurrection and Redemption: The novel's central themes of resurrection and redemption highlight Dickens' humanistic outlook. Through characters like Dr. Manette and Carton, he explores the possibility of individuals changing their lives for the better and finding salvation, even in the darkest of circumstances.

  • Empathy for the Underprivileged: Dickens' empathy for the underprivileged is evident in his portrayal of characters like the Defarges and Jerry Cruncher. He highlights the struggles of ordinary people, their resilience, and their capacity for both good and evil.

No. 1 Branch Line: The Signal

In "No. 1 Branch Line: The Signal," a short story by Dickens, his humanistic perspective is also evident:

  • Character Development: The story revolves around a signalman named Tom, who grapples with the guilt and trauma of a tragic accident on the railway. Dickens portrays Tom's inner turmoil and psychological distress with empathy, emphasizing the impact of trauma on the human psyche.

  • Exploration of Psychological States: Through Tom's character, Dickens delves into the human mind and the effects of guilt, anxiety, and fear. He underscores the importance of understanding and addressing the psychological well-being of individuals.

  • Social Context: While the story primarily focuses on Tom's internal struggles, it is set against the backdrop of the railway industry, highlighting the challenges faced by the working class in the 19th century. Dickens' concern for the working-class population and their hardships aligns with his humanistic perspective.

In general, Dickens' novels and stories often feature themes of social justice, empathy for marginalized groups, and a belief in the potential for personal growth and redemption. His characters, whether they are orphans like Oliver Twist or reformed misers like Ebenezer Scrooge, exemplify his humanistic belief in the inherent worth and capacity for goodness in every individual.

Q3) Attempt an analysis of Achebe as a postcolonial writer. On the basis of on Things Fall Apart, and the other novels discussed in your study material.

Ans) Chinua Achebe, one of the most celebrated African authors, is often regarded as a prominent postcolonial writer. His works, including "Things Fall Apart," "No Longer at Ease," and "Arrow of God," provide insightful commentary on the effects of colonialism and the complexities of postcolonial African societies. Achebe's status as a postcolonial writer can be analysed through several key aspects:

  • Colonial Critique: Achebe's writings offer a powerful critique of the colonial legacy in Africa. "Things Fall Apart," his magnum opus, vividly depicts the impact of British colonialism on the Igbo society in Nigeria. Through the character of Okonkwo, Achebe illustrates the clash between traditional Igbo values and British colonialism, highlighting the destructive consequences of colonial intrusion.

  • Decolonization and Identity: Achebe explores the process of decolonization and its effect on individual and collective identities. In "No Longer at Ease," he portrays the struggles of Obi Okonkwo, a young Nigerian educated in England, as he navigates the complexities of postcolonial identity. Obi's experiences reflect the tensions between his African heritage and Western influences, showcasing the challenges faced by many Africans during the postcolonial era.

  • Language and Narrative Voice: Achebe's use of language is significant in his postcolonial literature. He writes in English, the language of the colonizers, but he also infuses his narratives with Igbo phrases and proverbs. This bilingual approach allows him to bridge the gap between colonial and indigenous cultures while asserting the importance of African languages and oral traditions in storytelling.

  • Reclaiming African History and Culture: Achebe's novels contribute to the reclamation of African history and culture. In "Arrow of God," he explores the role of the Igbo priesthood and religious practices, shedding light on the richness of African traditions that were often dismissed or misrepresented during colonial rule. By doing so, Achebe challenges the Eurocentric narratives that dominated African history.

  • Complex Characters and Realism: Achebe's characters are multi-dimensional, reflecting the complexities of postcolonial African societies. He portrays individuals who grapple with moral dilemmas, social change, and the tension between tradition and modernity. These characters resonate with readers because they mirror the challenges faced by Africans in a rapidly changing world.

  • Critique of Neocolonialism: Achebe's later works, such as "Anthills of the Savannah," delve into the neocolonial challenges faced by African nations after achieving political independence. He scrutinizes the corruption, political instability, and abuse of power that persisted in many African countries in the postcolonial period.

  • Influence on Postcolonial Literature: Achebe's contributions to postcolonial literature extend beyond his own works. He played a pivotal role in shaping the discourse on African literature and identity. His essay "An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's 'Heart of Darkness'" is a seminal critique of colonial-era literature and continues to influence discussions on race, representation, and colonialism in literature.

Q4) Analyse Sunlight on a Broken Column as a partition novel told through the eyes of a child narrator. Does the type of narrator make a difference to the way in which events are perceived?

Ans) "Sunlight on a Broken Column" by Attia Hosain is a significant work of literature that provides a unique perspective on the Partition of India through the eyes of a child narrator. The choice of a child narrator has a profound impact on the way events are perceived and adds layers of complexity to the novel.

Child Narrator's Perspective:

  • Innocence and Naivety: The child narrator, Laila, offers a lens through which the traumatic events of Partition are viewed with innocence and naivety. Her limited understanding of the complexities of politics and religious tensions allows readers to see how ordinary people, especially children, were caught up in events beyond their comprehension.

  • Emotional Resonance: Laila's narrative voice is emotionally resonant. Her observations and reactions are unfiltered and honest, reflecting the raw emotions experienced during Partition. This emotional depth adds authenticity to the narrative and allows readers to empathize with the characters' pain and confusion.

  • Personal and Intimate: Laila's perspective is personal and intimate. As a child, she is closely connected to her family, particularly her grandmother, and her observations center on the domestic sphere. This intimacy provides a contrast to the broader political and social events of Partition, highlighting the impact on individual lives.

Impact of the Child Narrator:

  • Limited Understanding: Laila's limited understanding of the political and historical context of Partition emphasizes the disorientation and confusion experienced by ordinary people during this tumultuous period. Her perception of events is shaped by what she can grasp, often leading to misinterpretations and misunderstandings.

  • Loss of Innocence: As the novel progresses, Laila's innocence is gradually eroded as she witnesses the violence and suffering caused by Partition. Her loss of innocence mirrors the broader loss of innocence experienced by the nation during this time, as ideals of unity and harmony gave way to division and bloodshed.

  • Symbol of Hope: Despite the darkness of the events, Laila also serves as a symbol of hope and resilience. Her ability to adapt and find moments of joy in the midst of chaos highlights the human capacity to endure and find light in the darkest of times.

  • Vivid Imagination: Laila's vivid imagination often blurs the lines between reality and fantasy. This imaginative quality adds a layer of complexity to the narrative, allowing readers to explore the subjective and psychological aspects of the characters' experiences.

  • Loss and Displacement: Through Laila's perspective, the novel portrays the sense of loss and displacement that many experienced during Partition. Her attachment to her ancestral home and the disruption of her family's life illustrate the profound impact of Partition on individuals and communities.

Q5) Read Paraja as an example of a subaltern novel. Does the ‘subaltern finally speak’? Give a detailed and reasoned answer.

Ans) "Paraja," written by Gopinath Mohanty, is often regarded as a subaltern novel that sheds light on the lives, struggles, and perspectives of marginalized tribal communities in India, particularly the Paraja tribe. The novel can indeed be seen as an attempt to let the subaltern voices be heard, although it also presents a nuanced portrayal of the challenges and limitations in achieving a full "speaking" position for the subaltern.

Representation of the Subaltern:

  • Subaltern Agency: "Paraja" provides a platform for the subaltern communities to express their experiences, aspirations, and grievances. The novel delves into the daily lives of the Paraja people, their customs, rituals, and the challenges they face due to the intrusion of external forces, primarily the government and landlords.

  • Cultural and Social Significance: The novel emphasizes the cultural and social significance of the Paraja community, presenting their way of life with respect and authenticity. Mohanty's portrayal aims to counter the erasure and marginalization that subaltern groups often face in mainstream narratives.

  • Resistance and Struggles: Through the characters of Sukru Jani and others, the novel portrays the resistance and struggles of the Paraja community against oppressive systems. Their efforts to protect their land and traditions reflect their agency and determination.

Limitations in Subaltern Expression:

  • Authorial Mediation: While "Paraja" gives voice to the subaltern, it is important to recognize that the narrative is mediated by the author, Gopinath Mohanty, who is not a member of the Paraja community. This mediation may limit the extent to which the subaltern voices are presented in an unfiltered manner.

  • Literary Conventions: The novel adheres to certain literary conventions and storytelling techniques that may not fully capture the nuances of oral traditions and indigenous worldviews of the Paraja people. Some aspects of their culture and beliefs may remain inaccessible or understated.

  • Language and Accessibility: "Paraja" is written in the Odia language, which is not the native language of the Paraja people. While it serves as a means of communication, it may not fully capture the richness and diversity of their linguistic heritage and oral traditions.

  • Audience and Reception: The novel was primarily written for an educated, urban audience, which may have different expectations and interpretations of the subaltern voices. The reception of the novel among mainstream readers may influence the extent to which the subaltern voice is truly heard and understood.

The "Subaltern Speak" in "Paraja":

In "Paraja," the subaltern does indeed speak, but the manner and extent of their speech are mediated by various factors, including the author's perspective, literary conventions, and the limitations of language. The novel offers a valuable platform for understanding the lives and struggles of the Paraja community, and it challenges dominant narratives that often exclude or misrepresent marginalized voices.

However, it is crucial to acknowledge that the subaltern voice in "Paraja" may not speak in the same way as Western theoretical formulations of the "subaltern" in postcolonial discourse. The novel presents the subaltern as active agents who assert their rights and resist oppression within the constraints of their cultural and social contexts.

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