ENGL 2210 World Literature II

Anita Desai: "The Rooftop Dwellers". Study Guide

    What is?
    1. autorickshaw
    2. sari
    3. Mahabharata
    4. beti
    5. barsati
  1. Read the pronouncing glossary on page 3102.
  2. Read a short article about family life in India.
  3. Where in India does the story take place?
  4. Can you guess Moyna's social status?
  5. What is the Ladies' Special?
  6. What is life like in the hostel where Moyna lives? Why does she want to get a new place? What is a hostel? How does it cocpare to the life style she is used to?
  7. Why does she take the Ladies' special? What's her opinion of Indian men?
  8. Why does she have to leave the hostel?
  9. She names the cat Mao. Who was Mao? Does that say anything about her political leanings?
  10. Where does she work?
  11. Why specifically is she having a problem finding a place to live? What do prospective landlors not like about her? Is this unusual?
  12. Describe the barsati that she rents.
  13. What is the landlord-tennant relationship like in this society? Provide specific examples.
  14. One reason why Moyna moves to Delhi is to "escape her family". What is it about her family that she wants to escape from?
  15. What are some of the things that Moyna admires about Tara?
  16. We meet several mothers in the story: Mrs. Bhala, Moyna's mother and Tara. How do they compare? What seems to be the typical role of the mother in this society?
  17. How does this story illustrate the impact that Western culture has had on Indian society?
  18. What are some of the difficulties that Moyna has to face as a single woman in her society?
  19. The story seems to focus on the attempts by the two main characters, Moyna and Tara, to set themselves "free" from the cultural confines of their society. Do you think there is an argument that perhaps they are "better off" by conforming to the social norms rather than rejecting them? Why, or why not?