Reading Guide Chs.1-8
URL of this webpage: http://web.cocc.edu/cagatucci/classes/hum210/coursepack/crackingindiaSG.htm
HUM 210 Online Course Pack - Fall 2006 - Prof. Cora Agatucci
Ch. 1 (pp. 11-19) by Cora Agatucci
Ch. 1 EPIGRAPH:
Lines from poem "Complaint to God,"
by Iqbal (11)
MAIN SETTING: 1942; city of Lahore, Punjab province [then in pre-Partitioned India, governed by the British Raj (colonial rule), populated by people of varied ethnicities and religions--Parsee, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Christian--who, in narrator Lenny's view, are peacefully co-existing. [After the 1947 Partition of India and Pakistan, Lahore became part of the newly created country of Pakistan]
LENNY SETHI = First-Person
and Main Character
Ch. 1 PLOT EVENTS:
SETTING 2: 1942, Mayo
Lenny is afflicted with polio in her right foot, and is treated by Colonel Bharucha, the Parsee family
doctor, resident at Mayo Hospital (13-14): Lenny describes
him as "awesome, bald, as pink-skinned as an Englishman" (14).
Colonel Barucha removes the cast on Lenny's leg, and -
CHILD's POINT OF VIEW - Lenny
says she is "relieved to see that my newly released foot and its
valuable deformity [remain] intact . . . . I limp away happily"
SETTING 3: 1942, Lenny's school, nearby: Lenny and her "slow, intense, observant" older Cousin demonstrate their "telepathic conspiracy" when they lie to the teacher, indicating that it is Cousin, rather than Lenny, who is "'sick and is not supposed to run'" (15). Cousin acts the part of an invalid, while energetic Lenny cavorts before the teacher. "The interlude is happy" (15).
SETTING 4: 1942, back at Mayo Hospital: A frightened and resisting Lenny is strapped and held down, given an anesthetic with "a brutal smell," and passes out (15-16).
SETTING 5: 1942, back at the Sethi home: The next day, Lenny awakes to "maddening pain," a new plaster cast on her deformed leg, and her mother crying at bedside (16). Trying to distract Lenny, Mother tells "the story of the little mouse with seven tails," but it only adds to Lenny's misery (16). To appease Lenny, Mother asks Father to call Colonel Bharucha, but later "The bitter truth sinks in" that Father never called the doctor (17). News of Lenny's operation spreads, and Lenny cries for Godmother, who finally comes and consoles Lenny (17). That evening, amid a crowd of Lenny's relatives and neighborhood visitors, Colonel Bharucha finally makes his house call to check on Lenny. Mother blames herself for leaving Lenny to the ayahs (17-18).
SETTING 6: 1942, "A month later" - Trip to the Zoo (18): Ayah takes Lenny, now free of pain, in her stroller for an outing to the nearby zoo. Invalid Lenny enjoys the attention she gets, momentarily eclipsing even beautiful Ayah's attractions: "I am the star attraction on the street" (18). Internal narration of Lenny's thoughts on her crippled leg reveals that she doesn't want it to be fixed, for then she would have to "behave like other children," who must act out and compete to get adult attention (18-19). Lenny is "jolted" from her "troublesome reverie" to discover Ayah talking to Sher Singh, “the slender Sikh zoo attendant" [and one of Ayah's many admirers], in front of the lion's cage--the same lion who will frequent Lenny's nightmares (19).
Ref: Epigraph (11)
by Iqbal: from
to God" [in Urdu: Shikwah]
Lenny as Polio Victim: "Early in the novel, several passages evoke Lenny's experiences as a polio patient, her enjoyment of the distinction of her disability, and the ways polio affects her role within her family and wider social sphere. The fact that polio vanishes as a plotline is both disappointing and interesting: Lenny's failure to focus on disability during adolescence overturns stereotypes about disabled girls' exclusion from the social/sexual culture of adolescence. Like so much else in this novel, Sidhwa's treatment of polio is emphatically and refreshingly local, focused on the way daily life goes on in its particular, individual ways in the context of large-scale political conflicts and received notions about bodies and identities" (Holmes; emphasis added).
Ch. 2 (pp. 20-26) by Cora Agatucci
2 PLOT EVENTS & SETTINGS:
SETTING 1: 1942, Sethi Home, middle of the night: Father stirs "in the bed next to ours"--i.e. of Mother and Lenny. Lenny's Mother and Father have been married about 6 years when the novel opens in 1942 (20). Mother calls her husband "Jana" from "Jan: life," and feels happy because Father sounds affectionate (20). A precocious child, narrator Lenny discusses the advantages of having polio in infancy, including permitting "me access to my mother's bed in the middle of the night" (20).
The next morning: Urgent Ayah wakes Mother - "Baijee" - because "'Something's happened to Papoo'" . . . . "'something terribly wrong'" and Lenny immediately guesses that Muccho has beaten Papoo again (20). Mother hoists Lenny, heavy with her cast, and runs to the children's nursery, where lies an unconscious Papoo, normally lively but now frighteningly still, looking "unbearably ill: shrunken" (21). Lenny's Mother has Papoo taken to the Ganga Ram hospital, where Papoo is kept for two weeks (21).
SETTING 2: 1942, Two weeks later, Sethi home: When Papoo
returns home from the hospital, Lenny is reassured to see that Papoo is
“sprightly, defiant, devilish and as delightful as ever” (21).
SETTING 3: 1942, More
than 2 weeks later - Colonel Bharacha's consulting room: Her parents have brought
Lenny to have her cast removed
(22-26). Col. Bharacha berates Muslim couple (wife no more
than 12 years old), but especially father for letting his infant get
"Ayah's traumatic transformation at the hands of Ice-Candy-Man, the suitor who finally possesses her, and Ice-Candy-Man's own moral erosion through the Partition, figure the situation of all people involved in the ill-planned Partition, which resulted in migration, deaths, and incidents of rape and torture, all on a massive scale" (Holmes; emphasis added).
Quit India movement: see below.
From Agatucci, Cora, ed.
Timelines of Asia: India, China, Japan:
|1939-1945||World War II rang the death knell for Western Colonialism in many parts of the world. In India, the British viceroy declared war on Germany in 1939, in the name of India, without consulting Indian leaders. Congress Ministries in 9 provinces resign resisting Indian support for the British war effort.|
|1940||Gandhi and other Indian National Congress leaders intensified their campaign for immediate self-government, naming it as the price for Indian cooperation in the war effort, and were arrested. A campaign of civil disobedience was launched in 1940, while the Muslim League and many princely states supported the British war effort. Again, vast numbers of Indian troops participated in war on the British side at home and on the fronts.|
|1941||Subhash Chandra Bose escapes from India to organize the I.N.A. (Indian National Army) movement to enlist support to fight against the British.|
|1942||Cripps Mission: Waves of anti-British agitation in India, however, prompted the British to institute the "Cripps Mission," instituting an interim government during the war and promising full independence for India after World War II. The mission failed when both Congress and Muslim League leaders objected to various sections of the proposed program. Quit India Movement started by Gandhi, resumed the civil disobedience movement. Indian resistance to rule of the British Raj intensified; Gandhi, Nehru, and 1000s of supporters were imprisoned, and the Indian National Congress was outlawed.|
1942, the Quit India movement was
launched. Gandhi, the Mahatma ("Great
"I want freedom immediately,
The British resorted to brutal repression against non-violent protesting satyagrahis.
|1943||Famines in Bengal|
|1944||Japanese invaded India along the Indian-Burmese border, encouraged by Indian disunity and anti-British agitation. After initial successes, the Japanese were forced back into Burma by Anglo-Indian troops. The British released Gandhi from jail on May 6; Gandhi and Muslim leader Jinnah began negotiations to iron out their differences, but the discussions ended in failure.|
|1945||India became a charter member of the United Nations, Nehru was released from prison, and the British government issued a white paper on the Indian question, with proposals resembling the Cripps mission of 1942.|
|1946||A new deadlock and anti-British riots provoked a new series of negotiations with Indian leaders in 1946. An interim government representing all major political groups except the Muslim League was established, with the Muslim League finally agreeing to participate. J. L Nehru is named Prime Minister of the Interim Government, formed through the Cabinet Missions plan to prepare India for independence. Nevertheless, anarchy threatened as Muslim-Hindu strife escalated in various parts of India, with widespread communal riots.|
Mountbatten became viceroy and recommended
immediate partitioning of India to the British government
as the only means of averting catastrophe. The
Indian Independence Act, incorporating
Mountbattens recommendations, was speedily approved
by the British parliament, and on August 15, India and
Pakistan were established as independent dominions of the
Commonwealth of Nations, with the right to withdraw or
remain in the British commonwealth (India elected to
remain in the Commonwealth in 1949.)
The new states of India and Pakistan were created along religious lines, areas with Hindu majorities allocated to India and those with predominantly Muslim populations assigned to East and West Pakistan (with 1000 mi. of Indian territory between them).
August 15, 1947-
Partitioning of India
Independence Day: The termination of British rule in India
prompted widespread celebration by Indians of every
religious and political persuasion, and August 15 was
officially declared Indian Independence Day. In the words
of the Indian Ministry of
"For the first and perhaps the only time in
|Yet the 1947 partitioning of India and Pakistan (recounted in Bapsi Sidhwa's Cracking India) came at enormous cost. It created massive dislocations and migrations, and celebrations were darkened by bitter Hindu-Muslim-Sikh antagonisms and brutal violence, particularly in regions almost equally populated by members of these faiths. In the Punjab (including Lahore, and map) where the line of demarcation between India and West Pakistan brought nearly 2 million Sikhs, traditionally anti-Muslim, under the jurisdiction of Pakistan, bitter fighting broke out. A mass exodus of Muslims from India into Pakistan, and of Sikhs and Hindus from Pakistan into Indian territory took place. In the course of the initial migrations, which involved more than 4 million people in the month of September 1947 alone, convoys of refugees were frequently attacked and massacred by fanatical partisans. Coreligionists of the victims resorted to reprisals against minorities in other sections of India and Pakistan. Indian and Pakistani authorities brought the strife under control during October, but the shift of populations in the Punjab and other border areas continued until the end of the year.|
Am I? Living Identities Vs. Acquired Ones"
is a thought-provoking essay about the process
of defining and identifying oneself as a woman or man, a
Punjabi, a Hindu, a Muslim and other multilayered
identities. by Madhu Kishwar, from a Punjabi
family uprooted by the Partition of
1947. Kishwar speaks out on gender
issues, being a refugee, and having an uprooted identity
issue 94, May-June 1996). She concludes:
is our own sense of self so fragile that we need to fear
and hate others merely because they are somewhat
different from us? Predominance of negative ethnocentric
sentiments against others is a sure sign of a fragile,
fractured, and uprooted identity. Hatred of others is
usually a sign of self-contempt. Those who really like
themselves, are comfortable being themselves,
|1947-1949||Kashmir is attacked by Muslim insurgents, supported by Afghanistan and Pakistan, after Hindu leader Raja Hari Singh signs documents to make Kashmir, traditionally predominantly Muslim, part of India. Pakistan questioned his right to do so. Fighting between Muslim and Indian forces broke out and continued until 1949, with the intervention of the United Nations. The U.S. sided with Pakistan and the U.S.S.R. sided with India in the Kashmiri dispute. Kashmir remains an unresolved source of troubled relations between India and Pakistan.|
|1948||The Mahatma ("Great Soul") Gandhi is assassinated by a Hindu fanatic. Jinnah, founder of Pakistan, died later the same year.|
Ch. 3 (pp. 27-31) by Cora Agatucci
3 SETTINGS, CHARACTERS, & PLOT EVENTS:
SETTING 1: Outside Godmother's gate, Lahore: Ayah and Lenny witness the emergence of the English band from the Salvation Army compound - which appear to Lenny as "a slick red and white caterpillar, its legs marching, . . . its hundred sightless eyes staring ahead" (27).
SETTING 2: Queen's Park, Lahore: Here Ayah regularly takes Lenny for outings, where Ayah's many admirers - including Faletti's Hotel cook, Government House gardener, Masseur, and Ice-Candy-Man - congregate around them, and where "Things love to crawl underneath Ayah’s sari” (28).
SETTING 3: Home of Electric-Aunt [AKA: Mini-Aunty] and Cousin [who live on Jail Road [which intersects Warris Road and ultimately “vanishes into the dense bazaars of Mozang Chungi" (11)]: Lenny sometimes spends "days and nights with my limber electric-aunt and my knowing and instructive cousin," who is "a couple years older" than Lenny (30).
LENNY'S NIGHTMARES: That
night, while sleeping over at the home of
Electric-Aunt and Cousin, Lenny has her "first
nightmare that connects me to the pain of others" (31).
Ch. 4 (pp.32-39) by Cora Agatucci
|Ch. 4 SETTINGS, CHARACTERS, & PLOT EVENTS:
SETTING 1: Sethi Home, same year [Lenny is still 5-years old (32, 33)]: "I pick up a brother," announces Lenny (32).
Exposition CHARACTER: Adi Sethi, Lenny's brother is four years old, a year younger than Lenny Lenny describes Adi's character, and contrasts his beauty with her own ugliness (32-33). Adi has "the concentrated beauty and venom of an angry cobra," and Lenny can't hold his attention because Adi's own "unfathomable thoughts and mercurial play pattern absorb him" (32). Because Adi goes "to a regular school," much of his daytime life is "lived apart" from crippled Lenny (33).
LENNY'S Daymares & NIGHTMARES: The hungry zoo lion roars, prowls the Sethi home, crashes into Lenny's bedroom and "sink[s] his fangs into my stomach" (33).
SETTING 2: It is now Spring, end of March, already hot (33) - Early morning in Sethi Home: Cousin and Lenny marvel over the beautiful sleeping Adi, deciding "He should have been a girl" (33, 34). Passing Ayah rescues Adi from Cousin and Lenny's examination. Ayah proudly calls Adi "my little English baba!" (34) because of his pale color (35). Adi can pass for an English child in Lawrence Park (35).
SETTING 3: Winter/December,
"Saturday afternoon just before Christmas" (36):
One of the "bitterly cold days" when he can't sell his ices,
Ice-Candy-Man transforms himself into "a birdman" (35),
parades the paths "behind Lahore Gymkhana lawns and
outside the Punjab Club," sells sparrows and parrots to
"tenderhearted Englishwomen" by threatening to kill the birds
(35), and "clears a packet" of money (36).
Ayah is Punjabi,
and Ice-Candy-Man asks her why she always wears Hindu
saris and never wears traditional Punjabi clothes, like "shalwar-kamize"
(38). Ayah responds that she would be paid less money if she
dressed as a traditional Punjabi, rather than as a Hindu (38).
Ch. 5 (pp. 40-49) by Cora Agatucci
Colonel Barucha is a leader of the Parsi community in Lahore, which becomes clear in Ch. 5 (40-49). The Sethi family's 1944 retreat to the Murree Hills [in the Himalayan foothills, where temperatures are much cooler than 116+ degree heat of Lahore], is "cut short because the Parsees of Lahore are holding a Jashan prayer to celebrate the British victory" in World War II, predicted over the radio (41).
Speaking at the Fire Temple in Lahore, Colonel Barucha urges Parsis to “stay out of trouble”--in particular, to stay out of Gandhi’s Salt March [Gandhi is also called Gandhijee], to remain neutral and uninvolved in political and sectarian fighting that the Colonel is sure will follow the end of World War II in India (43-45).
Dr. Manek Mody, Godmother’s brother-in-law who lives in Rawalpindi, is introduced (45).
Ch. 6 (pp. 50-56) by Cora Agatucci
More EXPOSITION: Introduction to the other members of the Sethi household:
Shankars are a couple “newly married, fat and loving” (51), who live in the back portion of the Sethi home. “Because theirs is an arranged marriage, they are now steamily in love” (51). Gita is the wife.
Hari is the Sethi family's gardener (53).
Yousaf is the Sethi family's odd job man (53)
Imam Din is the Sethi family's cook (53).
Moti, Untouchable sweeper (53) for the Sethi household, is husband of Muccho and father of Papoo (54).
Lenny hates Muccho because of her cruelty to her daughter Papoo (55).
Ch. 7 (pp. 57-66) by Cora Agatucci
Ch. 8 (pp. 67-78) by Cora Agatucci
Setting: Sethi Home, Lahore. Lenny and Imam Din return from their visit to Pir Dindoo.
Dinner Party at the Sethi Home:
Rosy & Peter’s parents (68): Mr. Singh, their father, is a “turbaned and bearded Sikh”; their mother is an American (68-69).
During the Sethis' dinner party, Mr. Singh and Inspector General Rogers [British] get into a fight ( 70-74).
"Lenny's development from childhood to adolescence concurs with India's independence from Britain and the partitioning of India into India and Pakistan. The interwoven plots give each other substantial meaning. Partly because Lenny's family are Parsees, a religious and ethnic minority that remained relatively neutral in post-Partition religious conflicts, she has access to people of all ethnicities and religions, both within Lahore and in other locales. More significantly, she has access to a wide variety of viewpoints both pre-and post-Partition through her Ayah, a beautiful woman whose suitors are ethnically and religiously diverse" (Holmes; emphasis added). Cracking India "is a story in which individuals and their community identities are inseparable, a story of emerging nations as well as a story of single characters. Not only Lenny, but everyone in this novel experiences substantial change in the context of the Partition" (Holmes). "The links between individuals and nations are emphasized both by multiple plots and points of view" (Holmes).
Multiple Plots - Main Plot and Subplots of Cracking India: "Lenny's passionate love of Ayah and the loss of innocence that accompanies their changing relationship through the Partition is an energetic center to the plot. Lenny's relationships with her mother, her powerful godmother, and her sexually invasive cousin are also important to the novel. Lenny's polio forms a significant early narrative thread. Other minor but compelling subplots include Lenny's parents' changing relationship, the murder of a British official, and the child marriage of the much-abused daughter of one of Lenny's family's servants" (Holmes).
Multiple Points of View: ". . . [W]hile Lenny is the clear protagonist and narrator for most of the novel, Ranna, a Muslim child whose experiences were particularly violent and traumatic, tells his own story. A significant aspect of the novel is the marginality of Britain and the Raj in the plot; colonialism sets this trauma in place, but postcolonial characters are its focus" (Holmes; emphasis added).
Works Cited and Additional Resources
Cora, ed. "Cracking India." Handout,
Humanities 210, Central Oregon Community
Introduction to Cracking India
ARE HERE ~ Cracking India Reading Guide Chs. 1-8 -
Pack - Fall 2006
URL of this webpage: http://web.cocc.edu/cagatucci/classes/hum210/coursepack/crackingindiaRG.htm
Last updated: 09 November 2006