Anita Desai’s In Custody: A Thematic Study
Keywords:identity, Urdu, marriage, friend
In Custody, a novel penned in 1984 by the renowned Indian-American author Anita Desai, serves as a significant literary exploration of the quest for identity and existential purpose. Positioned within the contemporary Indian milieu, this work delves profoundly into the intricate themes of identity and linguistic expression, employing the lyrical medium of Urdu poetry as its narrative backdrop. At the narrative's center lies Deven Sharma, the principal protagonist, a reticent Hindi instructor who is presented with a life-altering opportunity when his audacious childhood friend, Murad, extends an offer to interview his revered idol, the venerable and reclusive Urdu poet, Nur Shahjahanabadi. In choosing to accept this proposition, Deven consciously sets aside his own aspirations of emerging as an Urdu poet of note, thus embarking on a journey that brings into focus the deeply entwined themes of identity, linguistic expression, and the intricacies of human relationships. His own life, marked by a loveless marriage and a sense of unspoken discontent that he shares with his wife, is emblematic of the pervasive dissatisfaction that often characterizes human existence.
Desai, Anita, In Custody, New Delhi: Penguin Books, 1994. (All Textual quotations are taken from this edition)
Mani, K.R., Character and Setting in Anita Desai’s In Custody, Contemporary Indian Writings in English, New Delhi: Atlantic Publication, 1998.
Bheda, P.D., ed., Indian Women Novelists in English, New Delhi: Sarup and Sons, 2005.
Prasad, A.N., New Lights on Indian Women Novelists in English, New Delhi: Sarup and Sons, 2003.
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This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0).