Fasting Feasting Extract Close Analysis Essay Sample
- Word count: 1486
- Category: character
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Fasting Feasting Extract Close Analysis Essay Sample
In the ending of chapter twenty six, Mrs. Patton decides to request Arun to join her and Melanie ‘to spend the day down at the swimming hole’. The swimming hole is used by Desai to illustrate America and nature. It is compared to the ‘scummy green swimming pool’ which represents India. This can be seen as India being a lot smaller in size to America and has an unattractive appearance however; Desai does not say that America is any different.
The pond is described with water that ‘sparkles innocently’ which shows the appearance of America is inviting and harmless but underneath ‘animal life might lurk in it’ which relates to the dangers which may be devouring people. The area which Mrs. Patton has brought them to is very isolated and far away from ‘the people on the beach’. The people on the beach ‘gives the impression of being crowded’ is what seems only seems to be people in close proximity of each other supposedly having fun, when in actual fact they are only making a ‘din’. This symbolizes America appearing to be a place of happiness and fun but is only a place obsessed with appearances.
The setting of the area is surrounded by nature with ‘the woods behind them’ and the beach ‘at the other end of the pond’ conveying America’s abundance of greenery, nature, freedom. This is used to juxtapose with the civilization and the unnaturalness of materialism for appearance, trash and the awkwardness people feel around what is natural.
Arun is an example used by Desai to show his discomfort of the nature and his surroundings. He replies Mrs. Patton ‘miserably’ when asked if the swimming hole is ‘Nice’, his views in swimming which ‘he never enjoyed’ and his doubts of nature as ‘He cannot help eyeing it with the greatest suspicion’ all convey his uneasiness, distress and anxiety. ‘He would prefer here to be no one to witness him gingerly confronting the water’ which exemplifies his nervousness in nature and how he is afraid of to ‘plunge in amidst the waterweeds’. Using diction such as ‘confronting’ to portray Arun in facing her symbol of America is trying to say how America is something that should be feared and approached with great caution. This is because ‘due to the water, an element’ Arun feels as if it ‘removes him from his normal self’ which implies that he has momentarily lost himself like he is dead and soul less, similar to those in America which falls into the pursuit of a perfect image and the American dream.
Melanie, for instance, is those which Desai is trying to foreshadow as the consequences of America’s pursuit. She is expressed as an almost beast-like creature when she comes ‘out of the woods behind them and flung herself on the sand in a moody heap’ and ‘Pulling candy bars out’ she bites ‘at them angrily’. This ravenous, savage image of a girl consuming unhealthy foods when she has the choice to eat other healthier options like ‘sandwiches in the basket’ further displays the foolishness of the pursuit of a perfect image because in the end she ‘is gone’ and where she used to lay is ‘a heap of candy papers, brown and gummy’ a revolting image of trash and emptiness which is plentiful in America.
Foreshadowing to Melanie’s display of sickness, Arun walks from a ‘plague’ ridden area filled with ‘mosquitoes, midges, gnats’ to a path that is ‘crumbling under his feet’. The ‘crumbling’ path Desai uses, foreshadows the path of insecurity Melanie has walked down as Arun is lead to her. As a result of her bulimia, a method of losing weight by fasting yourself, Melanie is found ‘lying in her vomit’ ‘on the ground’ with her face ‘smudged with dirt and soiled with vomit’, a repulsive scene used to illustrate the outcome of those which try to achieve a beautiful image.
The question Arun asks Melanie, ‘are you dead?’, relates to how soulless and selfless Americans are as they are in pursuit. This contrasts with the surrounding of the scene, in an area filled with ‘earth’, ‘plant’, nature. Desai describes Melanie ‘in the dirt’ ‘kicking and struggling’ which shows how she has reached the bottom and is suffering and even though Arun finds her and tries to help her from the vomit ‘copiously’ ‘leaking form her mouth, she tells him to ‘Go. Go way,’ depicting how Americans, who are evidently in need of help, still refuse to accept help and continue with their suffering. Not until someone discovers them when they don’t have any more choice in this case, Mrs. Patton realizing her daughter is suffering from an illness.
It takes Melanie to be in a near-death experience before Mrs. Patton realizes there is something wrong with her and even though she knows that Melanie is not eating properly, she disregards this and encourages it by filling the fridge with junk food from her exhilarating excursions to the supermarket. She often ‘sighs’ after she offers Melanie proper food and she refuses. Here Desai is trying to say how Americans are ignorant to the serious things that are happening so closely around them. It also comes to a surprise to Mrs. Patton when she discovers Melanie’s tragic disease as she says ‘My Lord’ and “Dear Lord.’ Repeating “Lord’ twice, Desai is explaining how ironic it is that even though the believed to be great “Lord’ of such importance, in the end, still cannot prevent the harm done.
Hope is a motif Desai illustrates using the ‘swimming hole’. Arun is seen scared by Mrs. Patton and ‘plunges hastily into the water’ pushing ‘away from the edge’. The edge is like a place where everyone starts off at. A place of comfort rooted to the ground, filled with security and stability. Pushing away from the land is like diving into an open space of no support and freedom which relates back to how Desai demonstrates the pond as America. The pond had ‘a single rock and a single twisted pine tree which proffer shelter’ the oasis in the middle of the pond is like the American dream which hopes to achieve.
Repeating ‘single’ twice emphasizes how there is only one of the American dream and there are no other alternatives to depend on. Arun ‘strikes out towards it purposefully’ demonstrating how everyone all pursue this dream with great willpower but before reaching it, ‘he turns landwards again’ ‘with great gulps of air’ like he is drowning and struggling to return. His failure in not reaching the rock is what Desai is trying to show as the failure of how everyone that attempts to achieve the American dream which appears to be in sight but is unreachable and even with all the will power and determination towards it, it is futile.
The structure of the extract becomes shorter as we reach closer to the end of the chapter; the paragraphs begin to shorten which connotes a sense of urgency as it builds up the suspense towards the climax. The sentences are all of similar lengths used at similar areas of the paragraphs. For example, at the beginning of most of the paragraphs, there are usually short sentences which create an image in our minds of the scene that is to come. It also is a sentence which isn’t very descriptive leaving the reader the freedom of imagination and adding on later in the paragraph more and more details producing a clearer image that does not result in something attractive like in Melanie’s vomiting scene. The beginning of the extract starts from Mrs. Patton, Arun and Melanie looking down ‘Below’ to the swimming how whereas at the end Mrs. Patton is saying ‘My dear Lord’ which connotes to looking upwards towards heaven. It gives the reader a feel of having fallen downwards looking up for hope to find something that can save them from above.
Eventually, as the issue of Melanie’s eating disorder and Mrs. Patton’s obvious unawareness of it all surfaces, the reality and truth unravel. Desai uses descriptions of ‘scenes in a film’ with ‘a maiden at the feet of the hero, crying’ but in fact, the ‘maiden’ at his feet is not crying tears of joy from his rescue but is a damsel in distress which isn’t ‘reduced to black and white’ screen America is famous for producing but it is in a ‘three-dimensional’ form which is as real as can be and all those images in the ‘cinema’ ‘are not the stuff of dreams’. She is trying to tell us the harsh reality of what is occurring and that Arun ‘is not the hero’ even though he is the one that notices and realizes Melanie’s disorder. Everything is real, ‘real pain and’ ‘real hunger’ exists in America, a country of feasting, with everyone fasting.