Saturday, August 28, 2010

Discuss Sidhwa’s art and style of story telling with special reference to American Brat.

Feroza Ginwalla, a pampered, protected 16-year-old Pakistani girl, is sent to America by her parents, who are alarmed by the fundamentalism overtaking Pakistan — and their daughter. Hoping that a few months with her uncle, an MIT grad student, will soften the girl’s rigid thinking, they get more than they bargained for: Feroza, enthralled by American culture and her new freedom, insists on staying.
A bargain is struck, allowing Feroza to attend college with the understanding that she will return home and marry well. As a student in a small western town, Feroza’s perceptions of America, her homeland, and herself begin to alter. When she falls in love with and wants to marry a Jewish American, her family is aghast. Feroza realizes just how far she has come — and wonders how much further she can go. This delightful coming-of-age novel is both remarkably funny and a remarkably acute portrayal of America as seen through the eyes of a perceptive young immigrant.
Sidhwa's story opens in the author's birthplace, Pakistan, where Muslim fundamentalism has swayed 16-year-old Feroza Ginwalla, a lively, headstrong child who berates her mother for showing her arms and refuses to answer the telephone - even though the Ginwalla family is Zoroastrian, or Parsee, not Muslim.
Her mother, Zareen, decides to remove Feroza from these influences and sends her to visit her young uncle, Manek, a student in America.
Feroza's arrival in New York, from her humiliating ordeal at Customs, to the whirlwind tour of museums, towering buildings and glittering Fifth Avenue shop windows, to the bag ladies, derelicts and predatory young men, is a starkly humorous study of extremes.

Before leaving
New York Feroza ventures out alone. The reader's sense of danger to this ebullient neophyte diminishes as she successfully negotiates the streets and shops and returns to the YMCA building where she and her uncle are staying. Only to be trapped in the fire stairs 22 stories up. As she loses her bearings, finds every door locked and begins to hear stealthy noises, Feroza succumbs to abject panic.

Chastened by this experience, Feroza wastes most of her visa watching television and eating delicacies like
Vienna sausages out of cans. It's Manek who decides she, too, should study in America. To escape his bossiness, Feroza decides on Twin Falls, Idaho.

Feroza's initiation into things American accelerates under the tutelage of Jo, her roomate, who Feroza categorizes as "a 'juvenile delinquent,' a Western, and more specifically, American phenomenon." Jo drinks, curses, shoplifts and picks up men.
Slowly Feroza sorts through American customs, adopting those that suit her, and recognizing Jo's self-destructive behavior and becoming protective of her.
Then she falls in love with an American. At home in
Pakistan all hell breaks loose. A Parsee girl who marries out of her religion is ex-communicated (not so, a Parsee man). Although determined not to, it seems Feroza must choose.

Sidwha's ("Cracking India") style is humorous and turbulent. While sometimes the story seems to digress from its focus - delving more deeply than necessary into Jo's and Manek's lives - vivid details illuminate an appealing heroine's unusual coming of age.

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