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Mahaswetha Devi's "The Hunt"

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Just wanted to share a few thoughts going through my mind while reading Mahaswetha Devi's "The Hunt," starting with a few quotes. All of these deal with the main character, Mary:

"--Let the hired people come and see. I have my machete. Mary's voice is harsh and grim.

Prasadji says, It figures. White blood."

"Everyone is afraid of Mary. Mary cleans house and pastures cattle with her inviolate constitution, her infinite energy, and her razor-sharp mind."

"--Why aren't you tall and white like me?
--You are a white man's daughter.
--Big white chief! Puts a child in a woman's belly and runs like a rat. My mother is bad news. When you see a white daughter, you kill her right away. Then there are no problems!
--What about you if she'd killed?
--I wouldn't have been."

"Because she is the illegitimate daughter of a white father the Oraons don't think of her as their blood and do not place the harsh injunctions of their own society upon her.

She would have rebelled if they had. She is unhappy that they don't. In her inmost heart there is somewhere a longing to be part of the Oraons."


What's so interesting about these quotes and this short story, at least in my mind, is the confluence, the mixture of two worlds. Mary does not consider herself "white" like her father, yet she knows that she is not of her mother's people as well. Even if she had been born entirely of her mother's people, she feels something inherently different about her that would have caused her to be set apart regardless. Her "white blood," the life essence within her, seems to not come from her father but from Mary herself. She chooses for herself. "She is accepted in the village society. The women are her friends, she is the best dancer at the feasts. But that doesn't mean she wants to live their life." "Mary was unwilling." It seems that, because "there is something true in Mary," Devi is suggesting that the only thing that would have made her not be inherently different was to not have been born at all. To further accentuate this idea, Devi explicitly begs a comparison of her Mary to the Christian Virgin Mary while beneath the surface, Mary can serve better as a representation of modern day India, a society at its roots a product of a mixed heritage. Mary's "white blood" essence suggests a colonial and native past mixing and giving birth to a child unique in all respects, a blend of her heritages. Even in her language, Devi implies a blending of worlds. The original text was primarily in Bengali, but she indicates certain words in the narrative that were English in the original text. This blend of languages from an Indian author suggests that the narrative is a product of a confusing, heterogenous heritage, one often found in post-colonial societies around the globe.

Those are my thoughts on this short story, and I highly recommend it to anyone else interested. It's part of her work Imaginary Maps and is only seventeen pages long.
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On January 31st, 2006 09:17 pm (UTC), (Anonymous) commented:
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