Overlapping of Feminisim and Postcolonialism in Raja Rao’s Kanthapura and R.K. Narayan’s Waiting for the Mahatma

Nedal Al-Mousa


The paper examines the overlapping of feminism and postcolonial discourse in Rajo Rao’s Kanthapura(1938) and R.K. Narayan’s Waiting for the Mahatma (1955). The two discourses, I would argue, move in tandem and reinforce each other throughout the two novels. In this context, the turn of events in the two novels seems to contest the views held by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak and Chandrra Taplade Monhanty (two outstanding feminist postcolonial authors) on the marginalization and the inability of subalterns including women, colonized people, and underprivileged groups in third world countries to speak for themselves. In Kanthapura, Ratan, Rangamma, and Verkamma spearhead the struggle against the British colonizers. In Waiting for the Mahatma, Bharata strikes us as a very devoted disciple of Gandhi in his campaign to mobilize the Indians to force the British to’ Quit India.’ Insofar as we can read Waiting for the Mahatma as a Bildungsroman, Bharata is cast as Sriram’s mentor– a role traditionally assigned to male characters in this type of novel. One is even tempted to suggest that Bharata is portrayed as a Beatrice –like figure. Just as Beatrice serves as Danti’s spiritual guide in the Divine Comedy, so Bharata plays a very active role in effecting Sriram’s political and spiritual salvation through embracing Gandhian ideology. In the two novels, I would argue, the ‘positioning’ of women (in the terminology of Julia Kristeva) in a liberal feminist framework merge with the processes of decolonizing the Indian mind at work in the two novels.


overlapping, feminism, positioning, decolonize, discourse.

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