The theme of crossing borders, cultural, linguistic or national
The essay critically analyzes the works of Rohinton Mistry and Shyam Selvadurai about “Swimming Lessons” and “Pigs Can’t Fly” respectively. In swimming lesson, Mistry brings to light the plight of immigrants and emigrants; they are victimized and discriminated against, at the same time giving them a voice. The later, work by Shyam generally revolves around gender discrimination from which it is clear that women are seen to be less superior to their male counter part. These two works are closely linked in that they all have the same theme- that of discrimination.
Discrimination refers to where a person or group of persons are treated in an unacceptable way on the basis that they are of different race, religion, sex, nationality, ethnic group, color among others. Discrimination as a theme is developed and clearly depicted by character development in these two fiction stories. Other themes in these works include; poverty, oppression, corruption, dishonesty among others.
In swimming Lessons, we are told of life in Bombay, India and in Toronto, Canada which revolves around cultural adjustments, loneliness and of course racism of Indian immigrants. Kersi, as told encounters problems while trying to adjust to life in Canada where he feels disconnected from his culture and similarly to the Canadian culture around him. He finally turns to nostalgia and fantasy to assuage the loneliness and alienation bothering him.
During his stay in Canada, Kersi wrote several memoirs and sent them to his parents back in India. It was fool of past experiences although they were sad plus what he is going through while at a foreign nation and how he is coping with every thing. it is clear from his works that he send to his parents that although he is striving to adapt to the new environment, he has not and have no intentions of doing away with his Indian cultural values, the mother back home says “ ..his childhood in Bombay and our home is the most valuable thing in his life now, because he can remember it all to write about it”
Western Life style
We also learn that when he went to a foreign country, his parents, especially the father automatically expects his son to completely change and adopt to the western life style and forget his own cuture, the father says that Kersi did write what he wrote only “because they are far enough in the past for him to deal with objectively”.
Kersi also tells us of fellow immigrants who strive to completely do away with their Indian cultures and adapt those of a foreign land so as to be deemed conformers and not be called names. They change there names to fit with the western culture, in addition their culture is done away with only to conform to the west. By not being able to abandon their culture then they see themselves as failures in this new land.
Although Kersi in his swimming lessons was mistreated by Canadian boys, he persisted and remained resilient and kept his head higher and his actions is prove that together with other like minded Parsis, they will be the future of India. On the other hand, the likes of Jamshed’s who do not see a glimpse of hope in India and resort to ‘run way’ to the west.
Eccentricity of foreign land
Kersi learns with passion to get over his fears for water and starts accepting the eccentricity of the foreign land and is catalogued together with the reactions of his nurtures back home as they receive his first book about his entire experiences.
In conclusion, this piece of work by Mistry is a challenge to those who go to foreign lands in search of better economic advantage as well as better live to be conscious of not leaving their own indigenous cultures only in the name of trying to conform to the new environment. It is also worth noting that those who have go abroad do have an integral part in helping shaping up their country of origin.
Pigs can’t fly
In pigs can’t Can’t fly, male dominate over the ladies, this is depicted when Arjie is the only one who plays the main part in the fantasy in the girls’ territory, “ if it was cooking-cooking we were playing, I was the chef, if it was Cinderella or Thumbelina, I was the much-beleaguered heroine of these tales” (Selvadurai, 7). Similar to swimming Lessons, there are those who went to the west for economic reasons and were humiliated by being mistreated this is in reference to aunty Kanthi, “after all, darling, what a thing, forced to work as a servant in a whitey’s house to make ends meet”.
Tanuja, a cousin to Arjie who just came from abroad tries with no success to challenge the existing male chauvinism using the existing power structures. It is clear that even fellow girls were in support of Arjie for instance in playing the bride-bride dismissed her attempt to change the rule, “we were soon disturbed… with the effect of pitting Tanuja as the sole dissenting voice against the hitherto harmonious world of the girls” where men are the leaders (Selvadurai, 9).
Arjie dominance in the games was not criticized but rather justified from a traditional perspective and even got support from the other girls affirms his popularity. He can be cruel in order to not give Tanuja a chance to play an active role especially when she desired to take part in the role of the groom, Arjie tell her “if you can’t behave go away” (Selvadurai, 29). Her attempts to use her mother to level the struggle of dominance with Arjie renders her to be thought as an undercut and manipulative.
In the story, all actions of Arjie clearly depicts women as being incapable of initiating anything, lacking intelligence, shrewish but portray men as the only people who can makes thing propel in action, imaginative, have high level of intelligence and able leaders. All these are shown in his dominance in all the fantasy games. Whenever Arjie felt that his dominance is threaten, he resorts to violent actions to threaten Tanuja, for instance, the first ‘groom’ scene he slapped her hand when she questioned his dominance, later in ‘sari’ he grabbed and ripped her sleeves (Selvadurai, 10) thus a patriarchal character to claim dominance by use of physical means.
View of women as shrewish
In addition to viewing women as shrewish, incapable of moving things and lack of intelligence prowess, they are deemed top be nothing more than followers. In the first play of groom-groom, when Arjie and Tanuja disagreed, the first showdown between the two, all the girls keep there mouth shut, blindly and obediently followed Arjie’s argument despite the fact that Tanuja’s argument “a girl must be the bride” (Selvadurai, 10) was logically and culturally correct. This clearly depicts that women are passive followers who need to be provided with leadership from their male counterparts. Although Sonali, Arjie’s sister seem to support Tanuja by having a mind of her own, she seem to be holding an opinion within her that her independence and attractiveness lay in her loyalty to Arjie. What we get from this perception is that women are only attractive only when they unquestionably follow the existing male dominance.
It worth noting that the concept of male chauvinist is also depicted by the symbolic setting, there were two territories; boy’s territory “the front garden, the road and the field that lay in front of the house..” and the ‘girls’ territory was confined at the back of the garden (Selvadurai, 5). The boys were frequently seen in the outside world playing cricket, and doing tasks perceived to be a male thing while girls engage in domestic chores. Women therefore are seen to only play an important role in setting the home; this thus allows men to oppress them.
Women are bestowed with various home based responsibilities among them childcare and upbringing, when something goes a miss, they are always blamed. For instance Amma says, “If the child turns out wrong, it’s the mother they always blame…” this gives men the lee way to push the blame to women and farther oppress them. According to women in the story, women can not be equal to men, this is asserted by what Amma says “Because the sky is so high and the pigs can’t fly”, and this is in reference to the question asked by Sonali as to why Arjie cannot play with the girls.
It is unfortunate that the whole bunch of women in the story except Tunaji holds the opinion that the male should be the leader hence submitting to subjugation. In both the fiction stories, human race undergo discrimination and looked down upon despite the fact that they have great potential in making things role into action. Color, age, education level, gender are among the concepts used to sideline some individuals.