Existentialism in Anita Nair’s Ladies Coupe
Keywords:Existentialism, Humanism, Modernism, Individualism
This paper is an attempt to explore the fragrance of existentialism in Anita Nair’s Ladies Coupe. She was born on 26th Jan., 1966. She has penned down three very famous novels; The Better Man (1999), Ladies Coupe (2001) and Mistress (2005). She happens to be a multi-talented literary figure, holding her authority not only in the field of fiction but also that of poetry. She is better known as a competent modern woman-novelist in the realm of Indian English literature of the modern age. Currently she lives in Bangalore. Ladies Coupe is basically a novel of the “feminine sensibility” but it remains unsuited to the category of the female-writing that represented women as “battered, bartered and abandoned” on the shoals of low self-worth. It rides triumphantly against the tide giving us a glimpse of the innate strength that a woman has to rebuild up her life. This is why Nair has called her novel a story revealing about “ordinary women with indomitable spirit”. Unlike her first novel – ‘The Better Man’, having a male protagonist, Nair’s ‘Ladies Coupe’, rotates around the 45 year old bachelor Akhila or Akhilendeswari, being a pen pusher in the Income Tax Department. She has gone fed up with the lone provider in her family. One day, she happens to get a ticket booked for Kanyakumari to explore certain answers for herself, mainly to the question if a woman is able to make her survival alone, being away from her family. There are five other women accompanying her for the overnight journey. They are Janaki, married with Margaret, a forty year old young Chemistry-teacher, Prabha Devi, very close to Akhila’s age, the fifteen year old Sheela and Mariakonthu, a woman who is obviously different from the rest of them. All these women connect their life-stories to Akhila, helping the latter to gain her full potential woman and struggle with the response to the questions she has been searching out so long. Thus this paper analyses the search-operation of Akhila as she arrives by degrees as to how she should live her life freely and maintain her own identity in this patriarchal society. Anita Nair has paid emphasis on the fact that it is not the response to the question which has been alluding Akhila so long, but the search for exploring it which is more pleasant to the protagonist. The central character Akhila’s responsibility has been considerably exposed. She has found the potential to come out more afresh from the prison-house of her old-self as symbolized by the stiffness of the cotton saris she always used to put on while working. She can at least switch back to her previous life where perhaps nothing could have changed on the surface but on a mental plane a sure process of development has occurred.
Aldous Huxley, ed. The Letters of D.H. Lawrence. Heinemann, 1932. P. 198
Urvashi Butalia, “Breaking Away”, Online, http://w.w.w.anitanair.net/pages/articles-lc-ht.htm.P.2, Accessed on 21 Oct., 2001
Geeta Doctor, “She’s Got a Ticket to Write : An Interview”, Online, http://w.w.w. anitanair.net/pages/articles-lc-ht.htm.P.2, Accessed on 9 Jan., 2003
Bindu Menon, “Ladies Coupe” was harder to write : An Interview, Online, http://w.w.w. anitanair.net/pages/articles-lc-ht.htm.P.1, Accessed on 21 Oct., 2001
Tanweer Akram, “The Philosophy of Existentialism”, Online, http://w.w.w. Columbia.edu/ ta63/exist.htm.P.3, Accessed on 19 Nov., 2002
Ibid, P. 5
Virginia Woolf, “Modern Fiction” in The Common Reader, Harvest Books, 1953. pp. 153 – 55
Sheela Reddy, “I’d Like to be Labeled a Writer of Literary Fiction: An Interview with Anita Nair”, Online, http/w.w.w.outlookindia.com/full.asp.?fodname.P.2, Accessed on 9 Jan., 2003
Priyanka Sinha, “Woman – Centric? Yes, feministic? No : A Review of Ladies Coupe”, Online, http/w.w.w.tribunindia.com/200110826/spectrum/books.htm.P.2, Accessed on Jan. 9, 2001
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