Literature

Posted: February 7, 2011 in Uncategorized

The Prophecy
I have chosen ‘’The Prophecy’’ as the short story that I will study and elaborate the short story’s content, setting, theme and values. First of all, I would like to introduce the great woman who wrote this story. Anjana Aparchana was born in Mercara, India. Her father served as an army officer in India while her mother worked as a schoolteacher. Talking about her education background, she received B.A from Delhi University in 1976 and an M.A from Jawaharal Nehru University two years later. In the mids 1980s, she followed her husband migrated to United States and she started her career off as lecturer in Pennsylvania State University, and later at Arizona State University in Tempe. In 1989, her masterpiece entitled ‘’Her Mother’’ won the O.Henry festival award. This story was about tight bond between a mother and a daughter who lived apart. They communicated each other by writing letters. In 1990, Anjana Aparchana started to write ‘’Listening Now’’, using Indian women’s voice as inspiration. Due to her great contribution in writing world, she received a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Fellowship, and has twice won the Hawthornden Castle fellowship, which awards a writing residency in a manor house in Scotland. The significance of this work are, we, as the literature students are able to employ what we have learnt in the classroom in this story. For example, we will look into the characters’ exposition, how the characters developed, the kind of characters, values, theme, setting, tone, literary devices and lastly plot. So, we will apply our knowledge about literature with study the overall of this short story. From this short story we can observe the style of author used to create and make this short story interesting. My essay would discuss about the conflict of a young pregnant woman who faced difficulties to abort the carriage due to short of money and her parents’ reaction besides the Indian society’s reaction. As we know, Eastern culture strictly prohibit sex out of marriage. So, the conflict began when the young lady got pregnant and at the same time, she refused to marry the guy because she did not love him.
‘’The Prophecy’’ is a story about two young college girls named Amrita and Hema. Both of them were good friends, the conflict started when Amrita found out that she was two months pregnant due to her relationship with a fair, handsome guy named Rakesh. Amrita and Hema were in great trouble because they were broke as they were still college students. They did not have much money to perform the abortion. Finally, they decided to go consulting Chachaji, a famous, cheap astrologer. When they were in Chachaji’s house, he comforted Amrita with saying that he will perform ‘’puja’’ for her to chase away the bad stars of her. After consulted the astrologer, they went to a private clinic. They met Dr.Kumar and Amrita told her problem, Dr Kumar adviced Amrita to perform the abortion in government hospital as the cost cheaper compared to private clinic. At the end of talk, Dr Kumar gave Amrita few addresses of government hospitals, still they did not have enough money. The problem became harder with Patram who was the bodyguard of the college always reported every students’ attitude to principal. Patram always restrict their move. He was such an omnipresent, omniscient, peon-cum bodyguard. They were gated for a month due to Patram’s action of bringing them to principal because they breached the college’s rules. Amrita tried eating mango pickles with the hope that the abortion will occur, she got very sick instead. Nothing happened. As their gating entered the fourth week, Amrita fell ill. Hema tried to call doctor but Amrita did not allow her because she was afraid. College superintendent only gave two aspirins to heal the ill but Amrita’s condition remained the same. Finally, the superintendent called a doctor. After being examined by the doctor, Amrita was down with measles. The principal finally decided to call Amrita’s guardian and asked them to bring their daughter home. Hema told Amrita that Rakesh was at the outside of the college. Hema persuaded Amrita to tell the truth to Rakesh. Amrita agreed. Hema tried very hard to phone Rakesh though Partam forbade her to do so. Once Rakesh knew about it, he was willing to sell his motorcycle so that Amrita can abort the baby and he will protect her from her parents. On the next day, Amrita’s parents will arrive at the hostel and bring her home. Hema was helping her to pack her belongings up while comforted her to calm down. Her parents arrived in the evening. When her mother was in her room, she told her mother that she was pregnant, her mother was out of words. Out of blue, she bleeding and started screaming. Shocked by the scream, the superitendent climbed up to Amrita’s room. He grabbed away the sheet that was covering Amrita’s body and the secret was revealed. He, fastly informed the principal and the principal asked Amrita’s mother to bring her daughter out and never come again. At that time, Amrita was aborting naturally. Her father knew about that when they were in the taxi. He was speechless too. Hema was forbidden by principal to follow them to the hospital. After Hema graduated from college, she got a letter from Amrita. Amrita got married with a fair, handsome man, bestowed with two children and settled down oversee. She was busy handling her children and served as full time housewife and she invited Hema to stay with her for a few days. Hema was happy on Amrita’s behalf. At last, the prophecy became true.
The narrator of this story was Hema. She was the closest friend of Amrita. She was the only that knew what was happening to Amrita. From her eyes, she could see everything that was happening to Amrita compared to the others. She got bird’s eye view. She told the readers what exactly happened to Amrita clearly. She knew with whom Amrita had sexual intercourse, where Amrita went to seek help for abortion because she had been her every time and everywhere. We could not take Patram’s view of point because he did not know what exactly happened to Amrita, neither principal. So, the best view point was from Hema. She knew everything and readers will get suffice information and clear clues about this short story. From her point of view, readers will know that Amrita did not love Rakesh though they had sex and they were still college students, Amrita lived in a college with strictest rules, and Amrita struggled very hard in order to abort her carriage.
There were about 13 characters in ‘’The Prophecy’’ including small role characters. Amrita and Hema were the main characters of this short story. The other characters of this story were Rakesh, Patram, superintendent, principal, Chachaji, Chachaji’s wife, scooterwalla’s driver, Dr Kumar, Mrs Mehta and Amrita’s parents. Hema was the best friend of main character of this story, Amrita. Both of them were college students who stayed in hostel with strict rules. Hema was very helpful and kind to Amrita. She was true friend to Amrita. Hema was the example of protagonist character and she was the flat character because since the beginning until the end of story, she remained the same. Her character was developed very well by writer since the beginning of the story, she was very tough and willing to help her friend encountered the problem. She was like other girl who was very soft yet became tough when she on her will went outside of the hostel to make a phone call for her friend, Amrita. Amrita was the main character and she was seventeen. She was the example of round and dynamic character.A t the end of story, she had changed due to arranged marriage made by her parents. She got pregnant due to sexual intercourse with Rakesh. The conflict began when she could not abort the carriage because of lack of money. She was fully- developed by writer. At the beginning of the story, readers could see that Amrita was a girl who loved being free and her life full of enjoyment but she had changed once she knew she was pregnant. She started realizing that how to difficult life will be when you got pregnant out of marriage and she got matured.Rakesh’s role in this short story was as the man who always spent his time with Amrita during weekend in his hostel. They had always had fun together. Rakesh was the type of flat character who remained the same until the end of story.From the beginning of the story,readers did not know whether he was sincere in building relationship with Amrita but at the end of story, we know that he was seriously cared about Amrita.That was how writer developed Rakesh character.Patram was the bodyguard of Amrita’s college. He was very fierce with sharp eagle eye, he will report every student’s activity to principal. He was the main obstacle in this story besides principal and superintendent. He was the example of static character and antagonist in this short story. The other small roles character in this story was scooterwalla’s driver. He was a flirty man, greed of money and willing to break the road rules as the other drivers always did as long as they get to the place they want. From this story, we can see the stereotype characters such as Dr Kumar, Chachaji, and Chachaji’s wife. We can predict how the stereotype characters behavior. For example, Dr Kumar, she was a gentle and warming woman who will persuade you and say nice things to comfort her patients. Writer did not really develop this character. Most of this character can be found in many short stories. The same went to Chachaji and his wife. Chachaji was the astrologer in this story,we can predict that he was a man with calmness,very soft-spoken and often played with words.All his prophecy became true at the end of this story. His wife was a soft and motherly woman who treated Hema and Amrita like her own daughters. Mrs. Mehta was the flat character, she was a busy body and cynical woman. She only played a small character in this story. So, she did not really developed by writer. Another minor characters in this story were superintendent, principal, and Amrita’s parents. Superintendent and principal were the example of flat characters of this story because both of them remained heartless though they knew Amrita was pregnant. Instead of calling the taxi, both chased Amrita from the hostel. They were developed by the writer from the beginning of the story as person who were really heartless until the end of story. Amrita’s parents were the example of stereotype character especially her mother. Every mother will stand behind their children in the story. They still love their children no matter what they have done and will always support them. Amrita’s father only showed up at the end of story. So, we did not really know how her father was. Once, he heard that her daughter was pregnant , he was speechless and shocked. That’s all about the characters in ‘’The Prophecy.’’
There are many types of setting in this story such as physical setting, geographical setting, cultural setting and historical setting. The physical setting of this story is in the current time based on this story. The geographical setting was inDelhi, India and the area of India was in urban area based on the society and their lifestyle. The Indian society’s condition was so bad and youth freely enjoyed their life until they got pregnant. Sex before marriage is considered normal nowadays. The other type of setting is cultural setting. Getting pregnant out of marriage is considered shameful and disobeys the religion thought by Indian society. Girls who get pregnant will be abandoned by their family . Some of them attempt suicide, as the result of pressure they carry on their shoulders. Other setting that can be found in this story are Chachaji’s house, Dr.Kumar’s clinic and the hostel. Chachji’s house was the first place, Hema and Amrita went in order to solve the problem. After hearing the prophecy, they headed to Dr. Kumar’s clinic to consult for her advice. Dr. Kumar gave a few government hospitals address to them because the cost of abortion will be cheaper compared to private hospitals. Hostel was the place they stayed when they studied. This placed was strictly monitored by guard named Patram. Any student that breach the hostel’s rules will be caught by Patram. He knew everything about all the inmates of the hostel. Lastly is historical setting. Not much can be said about historical setting but this story took place after India freed from Britain.
The kind of plot of this story is traditional or standard plot. In my opinion, the author had done a good job about the overall plot of this story because she guided us through arrangement of events, cause and effect and lastly characters interaction. We can see that Anjana managed to arrange the events effectively starting with the introduction of the main characters. The plot made us to continue reading. As we know from this story, Amrita was pregnant and we know that with whom she had sex. The effect of the pregnancy was she was expelled from the hostel. All was told in this story. Readers got a clear view of this story. Besides that, there were character interaction especially between the main characters; Hema and Amrita. From their interaction, we know the cause of the problems. So, the author had guided us to this story completely. This story conforms to traditional plot because it followed the stages of plot. It started with exposition that is the introduction of the main characters when they were waiting for the scooterwalla. After that, the crisis began to take place when Amrita did not have enough money for the abortion. The peak of the action and the climax were when she was bleeding and aborted naturally due to chicken pox. Lastly, resolution of this story was when Amrita was asked to marry a man and it was an arranged marriage. She was very happy and bestowed with two cute children and the prophecy became reality. So, this story was indeed followed the traditional plot. The writer also used the flashback technique in this story. From this technique, readers met with Rakesh who was Amrita’s friend and readers got additional information about what had happened and the other characters.
Literary devices are one of techniques used in writing short story. There are two types of literary devices. Firstly is literary elements and secondly is literary technique. The examples of literary elements are protagonist, setting, plot and themes which I have discussed above. Literary technique is about metaphor and hyperbole which I will discuss later. The usage of metaphor and hyperbole are to express artistic meaning through the use of language. The author of this short story used personification elements to make this story interesting and artistic. The example of personification was “Beti, you are in forest, lost, wandering. The other example was hyperbole. The sentence was “I would tame the beast in him.’’ Besides that, writer used the flashback technique in this story. This could be seen when Amrita recalled her neighbor’s daughter who attempted suicide when she got pregnant out of marriage and Rakesh’s character was introduced using flashback technique. Writer also used foreshadowing technique. This could be seen when Amrita failed to get enough money for the abortion and this was a hint to readers. Readers will automatically know that Amrita will either deliver the baby or abort it and the outcome was she aborted naturally. Foreshadowing is where future events in a story or perhaps the outcome are suggested by the author before the happen. These devices are useful to the readers in no matter what story they read because they are the core elements to make story readable and interesting. Readers also will understand the story with the flashback technique because it will the additional information.
The tone of this story was straightforward because“ The Prophecy’’ was not a complicated story. Other than that, the tone of this story was affectionate because Hema showed that she loved her friend and willing to do anything for her friend. Amrita’s mother also showed the tone of affectionate because she still endorsed and love her daughter no matter what had happened. Besides that, the other tone of this story was worried because Amrita was scared and worried if people find out that she was pregnant. She was worried that her father might chase her away. The other essence that made this story interesting was the mood. Mood is the emotional condition created in the setting and it refers to the general sense or feeling which readers are supposed to understand from the text. From the story we could know the mood of this story was scared because Amrita was so scared to face the society especially her parents. Everything was in a great mess. She could not do anything rather than thinking about the problem. She was also in great stress. These could be seen in general.
In conclusion, the strength of this story lies on the moral value that writer try to convey through this story. She still believe in the Indian culture which inculcate good moral value in society. Sex out of marriage is considered taboo in the society regardless how well-developed your country is. Most interestingly is she still used the traditional plot of the story and this makes her story easy to understand and the flow of this story was smooth. In my opinion, there are certain aspects of this story that I dislike. We can work on it to make this story better. I don’t really agree with the way created characters such as superintendent and principal. It will only shows to the readers that superintendent and principal are the person who only act as heartless without any toleration. They are supposed to be parents to the students although there are superintendents who act like them. At least try to build characters that will show good example especially teachers. Hostel was like “hell’’ in this story though it supposed to be a good place for students to study. I think she should show a good education system in India. In general, this story successfully conveyed good moral value through friendship between Hema and Amrita. There are still a space for improvement of this story especially regarding the characters.

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