The Swedish Movement Arbitrating Etageres novel The Home and the World, is set during a crucial period of time in Indian history. The novel examines the lives of three main characters during the beginnings of the Swedish protest movement in Bengali India. While Étagère explores several main themes in his novel including the role of gender, religion, and romance into the triangular narrative, it is the political and national theme portrayed through the Shades’ movement that both brings together and tears apart these three main characters.
This movement was part of the national independence movement in India during the early 20th century, focusing on resisting British rule and promoting Indian identity and independence, but the use of both violent and non-violent meaner by this political group create an ethical and moral dilemma for the characters in the novel. By examining these characters, it is clear that the Shades’ movement plays a critical role in this novel stimulating all the action that occurs and directly attaching to several themes that Étagère also discusses.
Etageres novel is written as a series of Journal entries, written from the point of IEEE of the three main characters, Knishes, Bimodal and Sanding. Knishes or Nikkei as he is referred to in the novel, is a wealthy landowner in Bengali. As the owner of an expansive estate, he has mixed views of the Shades’ movement. Being an enlightened man himself, he gives his wife much freedom, breaking several traditional boundaries for women in India by allowing her to be educated and independent. It is important to note that Nikkei finds the idea of the movement for Indian freedom to be admirable.
However, Nikkei also clearly states throughout the novel his non-approval with the movement’s meaner towards their goal. His estate is heavily populated by poor Muslims, and despite being a Hindu himself, Nikkei views the need to protect the needs of his community by refusing to partake in the movement which would require the removal of all foreign goods from his renter’s shops. He knows that the ability to buy local Indian-made products instead of the cheaper and better quality foreign products is a luxury that the poor in his community cannot afford.
Bimodal is the wife of Nikkei, who married her when she was a poor and uneducated young women. In the beginning of the novel Bimodal appears to be stricter by traditional gender roles, a result that proves to be mostly by her own choosing despite Night’s attempts to encourage her to be her own person. Once she grasps the notion of this unusual amount freedom, she proves to quite naive and easily influenced by the world around her. Mikhail describes Biomass’s blind preoccupation with Sanding as “hero-worship of Sanding” (Étagère 43).
Quickly developing a trusting relationship with Sanding, the sly, personable and radical leader of the Swedish movement. This proves to be her downfall as she eventually falls in love with both the movement and Sanding. Her character struggle in the novel becomes one of realization of truth about Sanding and the movement itself. The final main character is Sanding who has the most direct connection with the obsessed with the goal of convincing Night’s region to follow suit with others regions throughout India in support of the movement.
This fascination with Night’s estate brings about his desire to convince Bimodal to Join his cause, going to the lengths of telling her that she could be “the Queen Bee of our hive” (Étagère 44). Despite his outward appearance as a pronounced and charismatic leader, Sandpit’s true motives ii with improving his grasp of power and has a Machiavellian tenacity, willing to resort to doing anything in order to get what he wants. Sanding proves to be a true antagonist for his former friend Nikkei as well as the manipulator of Bimodal.
With Sanding being the linchpin of conflict between the other characters, these relationships complete an interesting dynamic that Étagère explores throughout the novel amongst the backdrop of the Swedish movement. It is easy to see that the one thing that connects all three of the main characters is what is going on in the world around them, the Swedish movement. This movement roves to be the source of conflict, Sanding being a supporter of the movement, Nikkei strongly against it and Bimodal stuck between her commitment to her husband and her newly-found passion for the movement.
Biomass’s conflict of interests brought upon by this movement is highlighted by one specific moment in the novel. After Bimodal has been actively following Sanding for days at this point she also has begun to establish a romantic relationship with him. Having securely gathered her trust, Sanding asks Bimodal to steal money from Nikkei for him. Bimodal in all her innocence, obeys and steals from her own household. The full magnitude of her actions does not become apparent to her until after she had given the money to Sanding.
Her remorse and realization of her act is a transformation point for her as a dynamic character. Finally recognizing the true motives and meaner of Sandpit’s movement she is distraught. She describes this moment of realization stating, “The burden of theft crushed my heart to the dust” continuing to reflect Bimodal says, “l could not think of my house as separate from my country. I had robbed my house, I had robbed my country. For this sin my house ceased to be mine, my country was also estranged room me” (Étagère 144).
Bimodal had found her passion for both the leader of the movement and the nationalistic merits of the Swedish so rousing that it motivated her to commit a sin against her husband. The guilt she endures by this action helped her begin to realize the immoral qualities of Sanding and his movement; reacting violently to any opposition and being willing to sacrifice others’ suffering in return for personal gain. Yet, it is also important to note that Étagère uses Biomass’s character as a representation of all the people who can be swayed to commit evil acts in the name of nationalism.
When Nikkei brings his wife to the political rally as a way of showing her the world outside the estate, like many others she was captivated by Sandpit’s speech, changing her opinion about Sanding despite what her husband had already share with her about him. This exposure to the outside world and the beginning of her developing passion for the movement is shown when she says, “l was no longer the lady of the Rajah’s house, but the sole representative of Beanbag’s womanhood” (Étagère 31).
Biomass’s obsession with the movement is even more interesting when remembering that Bimodal was once poor herself and would most keel have grown up in a similar situation as those being oppressed by the movement one way or the other in the novel, but rather is presenting the possible dangers that can occur under the power of the idea of nationalism using the Shades’ movement as the example. This human tendency is further shone in the character Malay, a dependent follower of Sanding who demonstrates how impressionable young people can be when surrounded by a powerful influence like Sanding.
Malay has clearly lost his sense of humanity willing to rationalize killing others through his statement stating “Who kills the body kills naught! (Étagère 139). Additionally, this concept of the dangerous potential of nationalism is demonstrated in the conclusion of the story as religious riots break out and Nikkei is forced to attempt to stop the violence on his estate knowing full well he is essentially heading off to his death.
The dangers of nationalism as presented by both the Swedish movement and Sanding who acknowledges this as a possible end result he was willing to let happen. Etageres novel thoroughly explores several themes; love, the power of nationalism, the balance between traditionalism and modernism and even the unman discovery of truth. All of these themes and the characters who embody their focus are fixated around the action of the Shades’ movement.
This movement is an important historical event in the history of India, playing a crucial role in the Indian national movement for independence. I believe Étagère uses this time to help express and explain the changes in mindset during this pivotal period in the development of India. As explored in this paper, every action or reaction that drives the characters relationships is related to the movement. We learn about the characters through heir descriptions of their reactions to the movement and the influence it has in each other their lives.
This is also where I find Etageres unique writing style to be effective and thought-provoking. But Just like any novel, the main characters’ relationships in Etageres triangular narrative are influenced by what is going on in the world around them. Étagère does not write about this period of history to discuss what occurred, neither supporting nor opposing the Swedish movement itself. Instead Étagère uses the Swedish movement as an example of a vigorous time period to shape the exploration into the multiple themes discussed in the novel.