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MEG-08: New Literatures in English

MEG-08: New Literatures in English

IGNOU Solved Assignment Solution for 2021-22

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Assignment Code: MEG-08/TMA/2021-22

Course Code: MEG-08

Assignment Name: New Literatures in English

Year: 2021-2022 (July 2021 and January 2022 Sessions)

Verification Status: Verified by Professor

Attempt all the ten questions and answer each question in approximately 500 words.

Q1. The colonial educational system was inadequate for the creation of a national consciousness, with regard to the Caribbean identity. Do you agree? Give reasons for your answer.

Ans) At least in its collective rejection to colonial rule, the Anglophone Caribbean was heading toward a new national consciousness. Cultural identities were exceedingly mobile and hybrid during this period of upheaval brought on by popular social discontent. Caribbean authors and intellectuals were attempting to build their cultural identities at the same time that political nationalism was gaining traction.

This cultural decolonization project also aimed to expose and challenge colonial schooling. The colonial educational system was criticised by many writers as a tool of ideological dominance that stifled the growth of indigenous consciousness. George Lamming wrote in 'The Occasion for Speaking' about colonial education's pervasive influence.

The education of the West Indians was brought from Canada in the same manner that flour and butter were. Since the cultural negotiations were only between England and the indigenous, and England had somehow earned the divine right to regulate the natives' reading, it is reasonable to assume that England's literature export would be English. Purposefully and solely in English. The further back in time England travelled in search of these riches, the safer the English product became. As a result, the exams that would determine the future of Trinidadians in the civil service enforced Shakespeare and Wordsworth, as well as Jane Austen and George Eliot and the entire pantheon of dead names. How might a colonial native be taught by an English native within the confines of a rigid curriculum? How would he ever be able to crawl out from under this famous mausoleum?

Take note of the outraged protest and vehement criticism of colonial education's hegemonic domination! 'Dan 1s the Man,' a brief calypso (a sort of song based on a topic of interest in the news and sung in a West Indian fashion) by the Mighty Sparrow, shows a different register of dissent (Slinger Francisco) The calypso is a folk music genre that originated in West Africa and combines elements of digging songs spoken by workers. Calypso has remained a cultural form that speaks to a predominantly uneducated working-class population.

It's important to note, however, that C.L.R. James was a key role in Trinidad's anti-colonial activities, and he used his'mastery' of classical education to educate Trinidadians about their culture and literature. He's also in charge of maintaining cricket's status as a West Indian sport. The paradoxical predicament of a colonial scholar is reflected in his conflicted subject position. He considers both the colonizer's and colonized's perspectives. At the very least, James rejects ideologically defined attitudes as part of the Western Tradition's legacy. In this, he differs significantly from McFarlane and Carr, who are devoted to the concept of colonial traditions.

The works and debates of this time were clearly influenced by and essential in the enormous cultural shifts that occurred in the Caribbean in the following decades. They aimed to transform their colonial selves into new national identities and Caribbean homelands. Nonetheless, colonial ideology's tremendous dominance spawned orthodox beliefs and aesthetic models. As our following part will demonstrate, the cultural decolonization endeavour was far from complete. We'll look at the 'boom' of the West Indian novel in the 1950s, as well as critical practise during that time.

Q2. What are the geographical and socio-political contexts that have shaped the literature of Australia?

Ans) The core of early Australian literature was oral traditions from both Aboriginal and white colonial populations in Australia. Oral traditions such as Aboriginal song cycles, colonial ballads, and bush songs were major impacts on the early written forms of Australia's nationhood and cultural consciousness. Letters, journals, and travelogues—categories of writing that would not necessarily be considered 'literature7 in the traditional sense—formed a significant corpus of work that represented or gave insight into the construction of the sense of an Australian identity at this formative stage of the Australian nation as we know it today.

One of the most important questions in this process of constructing a national identity has been whether to take a position of affinity or divergence in relation to British and European colonial literature and culture. The early trend was to utilise European models as a point of reference or comparison all of the time. Convict and bush traditions, particularly in short stories and ballads, cultivated a more distinct paradigm by focusing on the individual responses of the new land dwellers to the natural and social environments of the Australian jail system and the outback. Thematic drift in writing from the prison legacy generally centred on a sense of defiance to authority and the system, whereas writing from the outback tradition centred on the pioneering spirit of survival. The Bulletin school of writing, which flourished in the 1880s, belonged to this time period. This school's writers, like as Banjo Paterson and Henry Lawson, drew on these Australian nativist traditions in their poetry and prose. They elevated the Australian bush and the concept of mateship to cultural emblems, setting them apart from colonial cultural values in European cities. To many, the harsh nature of the Australian continent and the need for pioneers and bushmen to band together in an odd sense of dependency and egalitarianism became defining characteristics of what it meant to be Australian.

The 1988 Bicentennial festivities sparked debate on how the origins of 'Australia' as a nation have been depicted in history, literature, and popular culture. While it was a commemoration of the beginning of British colonial settlement two hundred years ago for white settlers of British origin and was thus dubbed 'Australia Day,' for the Aborigines it meant the destruction of their cultures, civilization, and relationship with the land and was thus dubbed 'Invasion Day.' To the former, it is characterised by the necessity to fabricate national origin and foundation myths in order to legitimise their stay on the island-continent. It emphasises the start of a history of loss for the latter, as well as the need to rethink the Australian nation's myths. The topic is part of a bigger discussion on how Australia's national identity has been established. The fact that the Aborigines, their history, stories, and political perspectives have been successfully obfuscated for so long raises questions about how and at what cost the Australian identity has been built.

Because of the early history of convict transportation (about 1,50,000 people arrived in chains), the population of the prison colony was made up of people from the lower classes of British society, as well as civil and military authorities. The 'pioneers,' those from the aristocracy who were free migrants and benefited from the cultural benefits of education and higher social status, concentrated on what was new and interesting to them, such as the landscape and flora and fauna, as well as the indigenous people of the land, the Aboriginal people.

Q3. There is a definite relationship between history and literature. Keeping this in mind analyse A Grain of Wheat as a complex portrayal of history.

Ans) In A Grain of Wheat, the author probes into the psychology of those characters who have undergone serious difficulties and consequent disillusionment but who during the time of emergency have found some meaning and purpose in life in the tough fight for their country's independence. ("Of Tares and Broken Handles").

Colonialism and its Legacies

Kenya was colonized by the British in 1895 and was not independent until 1963. In the subsequent years the country struggled to negotiate a post-colonial reality in which the divisions caused by political and economic oppression, the Emergency, violence, racism, exploitation of rivalry and competition amongst Kenyans, and psychological trauma endured and deepened. Even though Ngugi does not take his readers into the days after colonialism, he hints at the difficulties the characters will face. Thompson's claim that Africa will always need Europe may not be true in the sense he wishes it to be, but it is prescient in that Europe's involvement in the region can never fully be erased. Finally, on a more personal level, all of the characters' lives are affected by colonialism, whether they are in detention camps or the Movement or losing their homes and land or trying to repair their fractured families or dealing with paternalistic colonial administrators. Colonialism is an inescapable reality, even after it is ostensibly over.

Individuals and the Community

The novel's narrative focuses on the individual, with time given to Mugo, Mumbi, Gikonyo, Karanja, Kihika, and even minor characters like General R and Koina. Individual stories are significant, especially Mumbi's, as they facilitate greater growth for the self and for the community. As for that community, it is also Ngugi's focus, and one that has attracted a large amount of critical writing discussing whether or not he successfully managed to convey the struggles of the masses at the same time as he relayed the individuals' tales. Indeed, some of the individual characters seem as if they are thinly drawn in order to promote the understanding that they are merely part of the Kenyan people as a whole, and when individuals do make choices for themselves those choices reverberate back through the community.

Betrayal, Guilt, and Redemption

Almost every character feels guilty about something in this novel, and those sources of guilt tend to derive from a betrayal of another character or of the Kenyan people. Mumbi has betrayed her husband, Karanja has betrayed his people by becoming a homeguard and Chief, and Mugo has betrayed Kihika. These characters manifest their guilt differently, with both Mumbi and Mugo eventually taking the path toward redemption while Karanja can only choose that of exile. Mumbi and Mugo's redemption comes from open confession of their sin and a willingness to accept the consequences. Mumbi's also comes from being true to herself and regaining control of her life; she will be able to live out those choices, whereas Mugo's fate is death. Nevertheless, Mugo's death offers redemption to the community as a whole.


Many of the characters in this novel do reprehensible things: they betray loved ones and their community and the Movement, they commit acts of violence, they engage in selfishness and bitterness, and they compete and fight with each other. Some characters ask for forgiveness (either directly or subtly), while others do not. Forgiveness is important on both a personal and communal level, and those levels are related to each other. Individuals must work to forgive those who have wronged them in order to work together to build a stronger community. In the vacuum left by British rule, it will be more important than ever for Kenyans to trust each other, work together, and create a mutually sustaining and fulfilling community. Mugo's public confession, an act of asking for forgiveness, is significant, and indicates a model for the future.

Q4. Analyse A Dance of the Forests vis-a-vis the Nigerian independence; the relation of

tradition to history; and the relation of the artist to politics.


Overview A Dance of the Forests:

A Dance of the Forests is a well-known Wole Soyinka drama. The performance “denigrated the glorious African past and warned Nigerians and all Africans that their energies should be spent trying to avoid repeating the mistakes that have already been made.” A Forest Dance It was an outspoken work that enraged many elites in Soyinka's own Nigeria. He painted post-colonial Nigerian politics as meaningless and corrupt, which enraged politicians. A Forest Dance Despite the criticism, the play has remained influential. In it, Soyinka espouses a unique vision for a new Africa, one free of European domination.

In it, Soyinka exposes the ills of society and shows that the past is no better than the present. A Forest Dance He exposes the Nigerian social fabric and warns the people as they approach a new stage in their history: independence.

Plot Summary

Aroni invites two dead people to a tribe assembly. They were wronged by earlier incarnations of numerous of the play's living human protagonists. It is here that this group of characters meet and reject the deceased couple led into the forest by Obaneji, a humanoid Orisha (or god).

Then there's the Eshuoro-Ogun feud. Demoke fashioned Oro's (another Orisha) sacred tree into an idol for the festival, and Demoke killed Eshuoro's attendant Oremole. The Orisha and the dead will join the living in the forest to make amends.

After eight centuries, The Forest Head changes to the Court of Mata Kharibu, where the murdered couple dwelt. Mata Kharibu wants to go to battle. AKA "The Warrior," The Dead Man refuses to lead his soldiers into battle. And the Warrior's pregnant wife, the Dead Woman from Part 1, dies. Each of them has a role in the Warrior's and his wife's fate.

Mankind is tried for past incarnations at a carnival organised by Aroni and other woodland spirits. The Dead Woman gives birth to a Half-Child. Demoke saves the Half-Child from Eshuoro and returns him to his mother. The Forest Head laments not believing the desired lesson has been learned. It's time.

Eshuoro makes Demoke mount the village idol. In the end, Ogun saves Demoke. Demoke is awoken by his father and Agboreko. Demoke is stumped when asked what happened to him and what he learned about the future.

The Relation of Tradition to History

History and custom That history repeats itself in the most alarming way is feasible. Human nature can only improve and learn from mistakes imperfectly. This new age does not honour the warrior and his wife who made the ultimate sacrifice, but rather misrepresents them. Madame Tortoise is a shallow, self-seeking lady who utilises her sexual charms harshly. The character's callousness is highlighted by the request's absurdity. Among the living, Rola is egocentric. She thinks every man who opposes her is a coward.

The Relation of the Artist to Politics

In Soyinka's political activism, he opposed artists living in ivory towers and making works of no social use. In almost all of Soyinka's major plays, the artist is portrayed as exposing social injustices. And so it goes in Soyinka's plays. Demoke in A Forest Dance. He carved the totem pole for the tribe's celebration. Demoke pushed Oremole off the pole. Demoke's vertigo caused him to do this. Demoke pays the price by saving the Half-Child from Eshuoro. It is Ogun, patron saint of carvers and ironworkers who saves him. This purification always entails death. The community alters whether the character lives or dies. Rather than ignoring or misrepresenting history, A Dance of the Forests seems to acquire recognition of it.

Q5. Analyse Ice-Candy Man as a novel of Partition.

Ans) Ice-Candy-Man was first published in London in 1988 by Bapsi Sidhwa. Because the publishers feared that Americans would misunderstand "ice candy" and connect it with drugs, the title was altered to Cracking India in the 1991 American edition. The novel is set in Lahore, India, before to partition. It is part of the Partition novel genre, which includes Manohar Malgaonkar's A Rend in the Ganges (1964), Chaman Nahal's Azadi (1979), Khushwant Singh's Train to Pakistan (1956), B. Rajan's The Dark Dancer (1959), and to some extent Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children (1980). These works depict the Partition genocide from the perspective of Indians. The Pakistani versions of these violent and terrible events are shown in Mehr Nigar Masroor's Shadows of Time (1987) and Mumtaz Shahnawaz's The Heart Divided (1957). Both versions, on the other hand, are free of religious bias and written with more anguish and compassion than rage. However, Bapsi Sidhwa's Ice-Candy-Man is the third novel on Partition by a woman author in the overall genre of Indian-English fiction. Mehr Nigar Masroor had written a novel about the impact of time on families torn by Partition a few years before. Sunlight on a Broken Column (1961) by Attia Hossain was the first novel on these tragic events written by a woman author. Attia Hossain and Bapsi Sidhwa have similar viewpoints on Partition's tragedies. Both novels' denunciations are similar in that they emphasise the vulnerability of human lives. Friends, family, lovers, and neighbours in both countries were forever divided by the Partition.

Overall, Ice-Candy-Man is a tale about upheaval, with characters from many walks of life, including Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, and Parsis. As a result, all of the impacted people have a different viewpoint on Partition. The lens of Parsi sensitivity through which the apocalyptic event is depicted is what truly differentiates Bapsi Sidhwa's Ice-Candy-Man. It is the only novel on the subject of Partition written by a Parsi. This distinguishes it. The use of the kid narrator, the bright Parsi girl Lenny, is another unique component of this storey. Lenny is similar to the persona Chaucer takes in the Prologue to The Canterbury Tales, in that he lends legitimacy to the storey by becoming virtually a part of the reader's mind. It's an ironic device that allows Bapsi Sidhwa to approach a historical event like Partition without morbidity, pompous presentation, or condemnation. The author maintains a balance between laughter and misery throughout this Partition storey, which is unusual. The impact of violence on the girlchild narrator, the use of metaphor to illustrate the horrors of Partition, the role of rumour, the risks of communal frenzy, and the emergence of obscurantism are all facets of Partition reflected in Ice-Candy-Man. I'll explain how the author combines witty banter, sarcasm, and parody in her careful handling of Partition's impact on the Parsi community, the girl-child narrator, and decaying human connections in the following subdivisions. These characteristics distinguish Bapsi Sidhwa's novel. Other Partition novelists have recounted the violence, tragedies, human loss, and displacement of the partition in their works.

Q6. What is the significance of the title A House for Mr. Biswas? Give a detailed answer.

Ans) A House for Mr. Biswas was the fourth novel and first critical success of Nobel Laureate V. S. Naipaul. It gained acclaim as #72 on Modern Library's list of 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century, and it was featured on Time's list of 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005. The story is generally understood to be somewhat autobiographical in nature, with Mr. Biswas representing Naipaul's father and Biswas' son, Anand, representing Naipaul.

The novel follows the life of the titular Mr. Biswas as he struggles to claim self-determination and modern success by securing and maintaining a house of his own. From birth, Biswas is marked with hardships: a pundit claims that Mr. Biswas' extra finger portends that he will be unlucky to his parents and those around him. Indeed, Biswas inadvertently effects his father's death when he wanders off with a neighbor's calf, causing his father to fear he has drowned and go searching for him in the nearby stream—the stream in which his father subsequently drowns. The family dissolves thereafter.

As Mr. Biswas sets out to try to make his own way and advance in the world, he finds himself falling into a marriage with a member of the vast Tulsi household, which represents an older, communal way of life. While this family presents an opportunity for Biswas to settle and be relatively comfortable, his lust for modern self-determinism prevents him from being subordinated to this other household. He wants a house of his own. He struggles to establish himself as his own man through a career in journalism and the success of his children—especially Anand, who earns a scholarship to England. While he does end up achieving the goal of acquiring a house of his own, he goes into debt in order to give his family the luxury of only a very shabby house. He dies after a cardiac event, on an ambiguous narrative note of optimism (at the success of his lifelong quest) and pessimism (with the question in the air of what it has really added up to).

Q7. Attempt a critical analysis of the poem ‘Names’ by Derek Walcott.

Ans) The first stanza of “Names” establishes the sonic aesthetic of the poem, which employs repetition and deliberate syntax rather than rhyme or meter to establish a rhythm. Walcott repeats “began” in the first line, and repeats the phrase structure “with no nouns…with no horizon” in the second. The third and fourth line are slightly less constrained, but still begin with the word “with,” a repetition which also establishes a similar syntax for each line in the stanza. In a sense, the first stanza acts as a microcosm of the poem as a whole, establishing some of the strategies Walcott will use throughout, as well as introducing the most important themes.

The patterns of repetition established in the first four lines continue through the rest of the first section. Both the second and third stanza repeat a word or phrase at the beginning of multiple lines: “in the” in lines 6 and 7, “I began with” in lines 8 and 9. In lines 20 through 22, “The goldsmith from Benares / the stone-cutter from Canton / the bronzesmith from Benin,” Walcott repeats the same syntax three times while invoking different places from across the colonized world. Here, this repetition suggests the way that the colonization flattens the differences between these culturally and geographically distinct locations. Even as the poet names each specific location, and asserts that the people who came from them had both a national identity and a personal identity, such as goldsmith or stone-cutter, the structure of the poem has begun to erase those distinctions just as colonization and slavery created peoples who could not remember their homelands.

Walcott’s use of repetition suggests the conventions of folktales or parables, which often rely on the repetition of certain phrases to aid the memory of the storyteller and create a sense of events building upon one another in the context of a simple plot. The story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears is a good example of this. On a purely aesthetic level, then, repetition makes the poem sound better, makes it more memorable, and reminds the audience to pay attention to repeated phrases. For example, the repetition of the word “began” stresses the importance of beginnings throughout the first section, reminding the reader that an origin point cannot be so easily moved on from, even if it happened in the distant past. On a structural level, the use of repetition suggests that Walcott here is creating a kind of folktale or myth for the beginning of his own Caribbean people.

Yet the story that Walcott tells about the beginning cannot be sufficient, because the forces of colonization have severed his people from their own past. He is instead caught in a futile search for “that moment / when the mind was halved by a horizon” (10-11). This moment is a reference to the idea that European rationality rests on the imposition of dichotomies, especially between the self and the Other, or between the mind and the body. From there, European philosophical, cultural, and social tradition assigned power and superiority to one side of the opposition, and subjugated the other; most centrally, here, they imagined white society as the self—familiar, civilized, and knowing—and colonized peoples as the Other—exotic, uncivilized, and known. Walcott equates the “moment when the mind was halved by the horizon,” or the moment when these dichotomies came into being for Caribbean people, with the beginning of his race. He is suggesting here that the very concept of a Caribbean people hinges on colonial ideas which designate a diverse group of people with distinct histories as one racial category, defined in opposition to whiteness. This is “that terrible vowel, / that I,” the speaker says: the very act of asserting a selfhood, an “I,” is terrible because it occurs in the context of the violence that brings into existence a racialized self.

The poem therefore suggests that even the beginning for which Walcott is searching is a function of white supremacy and colonial history. For that reason, the very idea of storytelling or myth-making is put under pressure. As much as the first section embodies the aesthetics and priorities of folktale, it can never really become one because it not only lacks its own beginning, but the beginning it seeks out is already troubled, already a function of the oppressive forces which Walcott is trying to write against. We see this theme explicitly in the last lines of the first section, where the speaker describes his people left on a coastline “with nothing in our hands / but this stick / to trace our names on the sand / which the sea erased again, to our indifference” (31-34). The stick here symbolizes the act of writing or storytelling, which, according to the speaker, is all his people have left. Yet the sea returns to erase the story again and again. Rather than this being a moment of hopelessness, the people are “indifferent.” They aren’t attached to preserving a document of their story, even though the ability to write it is all that they have. Indeed, the poem identifies more with the sea, to which Walcott first compares his people, than with the act of writing.

Q8. Critically analyse the poem ‘Angel/Engine’ by Edward Brathwaite.

Ans) "Angel/Engine is from Brathwaite's 1977 collection Mother Poem's last portion. The prospect of spiritual rejuvenation is imagined in this part, which is labelled "Koumfort." The Edward title of this section, derived from the Haitian creole word for temple, houmfor, emphasises ways in which African links are kept (Dash Barthwaite-11 206). One such approach is religion, which is depicted in this poem mostly through the oral impacts it captures. This section is titled "Breathweight," a Brathwaite neologism and pun on his own name that is particularly applicable in terms of how his work affects the voice. The reiteration of "bub-a-dups" onomatopoeically reproduces the sound of a steam engine hissing. Aside from indicating Shango's presence, it most likely signifies the location of the devotees' gatherings. This is a working-class neighbourhood, as I stated at the start of the analysis. It's possible that it's a shanty village clustered near the railway tracks, as many other shanty towns are. The sound effects that appear throughout the poem come in the form of breath explosions: "huh" and "hah." These have been interpreted as the loa's primal sounds of lovemaking, as well as the early phases of divine language, when "Words were breathing noises scarcely distinguishable from one another." Vocabulary becomes monosyllabically primordial under the influence of the loa. The woman's voice is absorbed as she gets entirely possessed by the Eoa, until the hissing sound has only Shango as its referent near the conclusion.

Q9. The Solid Mandala is a play of dualities. Do you agree? Give reasons for your answer.

Ans) In Jungian psychology a mandala is a symbol that represents the effort to reunify the self.

In Patrick White‘s novel twin brothers, Arthur and Waldo Brown, cannot seem to reconcile the fact that they once shared a womb, the two of them being so different in temperament and personality. And yet, there’s a strange kind of reliance on one another, especially in old age, when the two share a bed and often walk about town holding hands.

Even their lack-lustre love lives (neither of them get married) are remarkably similar, when, as teenagers, they both fall for Dulcie Feinstein and then, as adults, when they strike up a close friendship with their neighbour, Mrs Poulter. But despite their differences and their tendency to secretly loathe one another, they cannot escape their lifelong familial bond. It is their ongoing struggle to find a balance between intimacy and independence that marks the lives of these two very different men.

Arthur, the older of the two, is good-natured, if a little simple, and is content with his lot in life, working as an assistant to Mr Allwright, the grocer. But Waldo, the bookish one who works in a library, has literary aspirations and thinks himself superior to most people but lacks the confidence to chase his dreams. First published in 1966, The Solid Mandala is Patrick White’s seventh novel (he wrote 12 in total, along with two short story collections, a memoir and a bunch of plays) and is set in Sydney, Australia, in the early part of the 20th century.

The Browns are recently arrived immigrants from England and the twins are already marked out as different by the mere fact that the family refuses to go to church like every other good Australian citizen. This effectively sets a pattern for the rest of their lives, because neither Waldo or Arthur ever really fit in. Even as retired gentlemen their appearance on the street, walking their dogs and holding hands, causes a stir.

“I never saw two men walkin’ hand in hand,” Mrs Dun murmured.

“They are old.” Mrs Poulter sighed. “I expect it helps them. Twins too.”

“But two men!”

“For that matter I never saw two grown women going hand in hand.”

The Solid Mandala follows the day-to-day lives — from cradle to grave — of these seemingly unremarkable men. Both twins have a chapter each in which to narrate the story. This makes the relatively drab subject matter come alive by showing how alternative perspectives on the same events and incidences can be vastly different from one person to another and how those said perspectives are coloured by individual prejudices, personalities and beliefs.

Ruthless and brutal in places, the prose is also illuminated by White’s distinctive literary flourishes — the tendency to drop punctuation when he wants to convey a character’s excitement, for example — and wonderfully descriptive passages about Australian life and landscapes:

It was really the grass that had control at Sarsaparilla, deep and steaming masses of it, lolling yellow and enervated by the end of summer. As for the roads, with the exception of the highway, they almost all petered out, first in dust, then in paddock, with dollops of brown cow manure — or grey spinners — and the brittle spires of seeded thistles.

There is much grace and beauty here and plenty of laughs, but in places I felt overwhelmed by the sadness that effuses the story, the sense of loss and regret and the inability to escape the past and to truly grasp life by the horns. And the near-perfect ending, I have to say, came as somewhat of a shock, so much so it’s taken me a month to write this review, because I wanted to think about this book before I put pen to paper. Ultimately, The Solid Mandala is a very human book about how two people living one life can grow apart but never grow away from each other.

Q10. Attempt a character sketch of Hagar Shipley in the novel The Stone Angel.

Ans) Hagar Shipley is the novel’s protagonist and narrator. A ninety-year-old woman whose rapid physical and mental decline often sends her reeling backwards into memories of her youth in the fictional Manitoba prairie town of Manawaka, Hagar is a heavy, flatulent, raving mess of a woman who nonetheless clings to the small remaining scraps of agency over her own choices. At the start of the book, Hagar is living with her oldest son Marvin and his wife Doris, though she resents their company, the fact that they have moved into her home, and the concerned way they talk to and handle her. Hagar begins to suspect that Marvin and Doris want to be rid of her, and when she comes across an advertisement for a nursing home left out on the kitchen table, she knows her time is limited.

Hagar takes one of her social security checks and runs away, boarding a bus bound for the coast. As she hides out in the coastal forests, she declines even further, and her moments of lucidity grow farther and farther apart as she reflects on her strict father’s dominion over her and her brothers’ childhoods, the end of her marriage, years ago, to the crass, coarse farmer Brampton Shipley, and the chaotic life and tragic death of her second, favorite son John. Hagar is eventually rescued and brought to a hospital, where she lives out her final days in a haze of stubborn resistance and, eventually, conscious attempts to overcome her own stubborn personality and finally give her family the kindness they have long deserved. Hagar’s life is a rich tapestry of indecision and wrong decisions, dependence and independence, as well as love, lust, and loss. Her complicated life is the basis for several of the novel’s major themes: womanhood, choices and identity, and the twinned love and resentment that often coexist within—and can even come to define—one’s life with one’s family.

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