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Title: Challenging social boundaries through “servitude” : an exploration into the lives of the lower castes and classes in Post-Colonial Indian literature
Authors: Jayashri Lokarajan
Keywords: DRNTU::Humanities::Literature
Issue Date: 2012
Abstract: In Post-Colonial Studies: The Key Concepts, Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths and Helen Tiffin have defined the term “subaltern” as people belonging to “those groups in society who are subject to the hegemony of ruling classes” (Ashcroft et al. 215) where they refer to “hegemony” as “domination by consent” (Ashcroft et al. 116) as well as “the power of the ruling class to convince other classes that their interests are the interests of all” (Ashcroft et al. 116). Although their definitions refer to the class system, they can also be extended to study the domination that occurs within the Indian caste system. Hence, given the ruling class and caste’s stronghold over them, members of the lower classes and castes in India naturally accept this domination. They remain unaware of how they are being manipulated in order to preserve the interests of those ranked higher in the social hierarchy. This acceptance of their domination is one that forces members of the lower ranks in the social hierarchy into a “fixed” position of “servitude”. Does the subaltern then have a chance to transcend and be free from the rigidity of his situation? I wish to argue that the only solution for this would be the need to challenge the social boundaries that keep him in his “space” of subjugation – through a struggle to attain power. However, this struggle is one that is not achieved easily and since the subalterns are “always subject to the activity of ruling groups even when they rebel” (Ashcroft et al. 216), only a “‘permanent’ victory can break that pattern of subordination” (Ashcroft et al. 216). Using this argument and the analysis of how servitude is presented in Arvind Adiga’s The White Tiger and Narendra Jadhav’s memoir Untouchables: My Family's Triumphant Journey Out of the Caste System in Modern India, the essay will then assess whether both authors are successful in presenting a complete rejection of the “pattern of subordination” that ultimately returns full autonomy to the subaltern figures.
Rights: Nanyang Technological University
Fulltext Permission: restricted
Fulltext Availability: With Fulltext
Appears in Collections:HSS Student Reports (FYP/IA/PA/PI)

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