Language and Literature Program
Post Graduate Program
The State University of Surabaya
In public point of view, Feminism is closely with term of feminist movement. This in line with what Hooks (2000, p. 1) stated, “feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression.” From the definition can be seen that it is matter of different sex, between male and female, man and woman. Those different caused different of way treating someone based on sex. Feminism can be applied in literary work as a critic by analyzing the work based on feminism perspective about the characters and their action in literary work.
In this essay, feminism is applied to comparing and contrasting of Biju and Sai, the characters in The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai. This novel depicts a cross-section of Indian society in characters (Chandramani & Reddy:2013). The characters such as Jemubhai, Popatlal Patel, Panna Lal, Gyan, Biju, Saeed-Saeed, Sai Mistry, Haresh-Harry and the two sisters, Lolita and Nonita, to highlight how the simultaneous experience of the colonial, the global and the local, creates “ambivalence” in the individual’s perception of his/her identity and imparts behavior in the local institutions of Kalimpong.
Comparing and contrasting of Biju and Sai will be elaborated in further discussion in this essay. Before doing it, it is important to know deeper and clearer about Biju and Sai. Biju is son of The Cook Panna Lal and as an illegal immigrant in America. He believes, will make it big in America. However, Biju fails to become a successful immigrant worker in US restaurants and returns home to further disappointments in Kalimpong. While, Sai is a misfit in both the East and the West, and life at Kalimpong.
From perspective of feminism, Sai is controlled by traditional gender role “cast men as rational, strong, protective, and decisive; they cast women as emotional (irrational), weak, nurturing, and submissive” (Tyson, 2006, p. 85). This traditional gender role applied patriarchal programming that controlled women to stay at home and doing domestic work. Sai cannot freely doing activity outside, even to study she has to study at home. Her grandfather hire private teacher for Sai to forbid her out from house. In the end when She come out, she feel strange in her country.
Feminism perspective for Biju, concern what patriarchy rule at men. As Tyson (2006, p. 87) “traditional gender roles dictate that men are supposed to be strong (physically powerful and emotionally stoic)”. By the traditional gender roles men are not permitted to fail in their activity or work. In the story Biju get fail in his work in America as illegal immigrant. Of course it is contrary with patriarchy role that men are not permitted to fail in everything they do.
The contrast of both Biju and Sai in the way they against the traditional gender roles controlled them. Biju came back to India because his failure in America, his work is not appropriate with his aim when decided to go to America. While Sai go out from the house and go around in his country.
From the feminist perspective, Biju and Sai as two characters in the novel who are controlled by traditional gender role which is men supposed to be strong and not permitted to fail their life and women weak people and under controlled by men without freedom in their life. Those are showed the contrast of Biju and Sai in the story where Biju have to work for getting money and successful even He have to be an illegal immigrant in America. While Sai is being controlled by patriarchy programming and it is giving impact in her point of view even in her love story.
Hooks, B. (2000). Feminism is for Everibody: Passionate Politics. Cambridge: South End Press.
Tyson, L. (2006). Critical Theory Today (2 ed.). New York: Routledge.