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The Englishwoman

            The Englishwoman by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala.
             The Indian setting brings to mind a hot and oppressive atmosphere, where all of the title character's desires are smothered by her relatives" rigid sense of tradition. Thus, Sadie, feeling unwanted and unneeded, yearns to return to her native land, where she can uncover some sense of belonging.
             The reader is constantly bombarded with the imagery of radiant, glowing skin. Although normally referred to as a sign of robustness and good health, the description only emphasizes Sadie's seclusion. She concludes that Monica's lustrous skin resembles more the Indian mistress than her mother; signifying the distance between them and her inability to relate to her own daughter. This is further exemplified when Monica happily accepts Sadie's explanation to leave due to homesickness, an excuse so shallow that even her father's mistress sees through it. Annapurna's "tight glowing skin" indicates her vigorousness; something that she possesses in such abundance that she usurps Sadie's position as head of the household (123). Later on, Sadie justifies her husband's unfaithfulness as the natural desires of every healthy man. She pictures her him cavorting with prostitutes" "wriggling young bodies, greasy with scented oil" (127). When she panics because there are too many people in the room with her sick son, Annapurna and her husband's shining faces envelope her in a suffocating embrace, treating her with pitying condescension. "She could hardly breathe, and perspiration ran down her in tunnels from being squashed" (127). Clearly, the glowing health depicted in everyone else only adds to Sadie's sense of isolation, for she describes herself as sickly and pale. It is obvious that Sadie doesn't possess this luminosity because she is an outsider and English.
             Her husband's family has always treated her like a doll; something pretty to play with, but never important enough to consider emotions from.

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