Shashi Deshpande's 'The Duel': A Critical Perspective
Shashi Deshpande, born in Dharwad, a small town in the state of Karnataka in Southern India, is a renowned fiction writer. In her novels and short stories she makes gender central to her writing capturing the lives of ordinary women struggling in life. Her women characters try to explore the question of identity and existence as human being. They denounce the patriarchal set up and try to find meaning in human relationship. In the short story 'The Duel' the characters are anonymous. What the woman in the story requires is not the passionate intensity but something more than physical love, a love that can supply the emotional and psychic satisfaction to her. She wanted to find the answer to “Is life lived only on physical plane?” She suffers the boredom and reaches out in search of a union that is capable of transportation from physical limitations and bringing about celestial experience in human form. During the course of the story all shams and masochism are exposed and a new realization comes to the narrator in which he finds his mother in pure and undefiled image restored. The face he saw was innocent, a human being not a woman, “pure and undefiled” like his mother. His experience with that strange woman connects him to childhood and innocence. This paper attempts to present a critical perspective of the short story 'The Duel' on the basis of a close examination of the three building blocks of story as a literary for : action, character and setting.
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