Subject Structure of Pappachi's Moth
Posted by estherlu
Posted on Tue Mar 21 19:03:37 2000
From IP  

Literature Criticism
Esther Lu
Journal #1
March 21, 2000
Structure of Pappachi's Moth
To see the journey from Ayemenem to Cochin of Pappachi's family in their Plymouth with structuralism approach, I find many interesting parallels and doublings that are composed in this single chapter have a rich complicated influence in and out of this family through generations, in order to show the conflicts and problems in India.
In terms of man-woman relationship, we can observe the marriages in this family. The traditional Indian patriarchal thinking that Pappachi has is the main cause to explain why he is such a demanding husband and father in the family. The moth, his failure of his career, hurts his dignity turns him into a violent drunken. He starts to beat Mammachi until his son Chacho comes out to stop him.
Pappachi's moth (S) Pappachi (O)
Pappachi (S) Mammachi (O)
Chacho (H) Mammachi (R)
As a traditional Indian woman herself, Mammachi complains nothing and endures all the sufferings as a habbit, according to her daughter Ammu. On the other hand, Ammu, a divorced mother of her twins, seems to inherit the same family tragedy, but has different reactions after all. Unlike her mother, Ammu is more independent, and has her own values and opinions. She used to be beaten by her husband Baba before she came back to Ayemenem, but she dared to care no others' judgements, and choose the life, which is best for her and her children. Although it is still limited, she saves herself.
Mr. Hollick (S) Baba (O)
Baba (S) Ammu (O)
Baba (S) twins (O)
Ammu (H) Ammu, twins (R)
From the first parallel here, we can see the changing of woman's self-awareness in the conservative Indian society. Although Ammu doesn't gain the opportunity to receive college education as Chacho, she has already realised the unfair position of woman actually must be rebelled by woman first. She is keen to observe the cruelty of reality and has the courage to change it, at least, to change herself first. Her capability of thinking logically and taking actions establishes her self-identification, while most women around her try to live on men. The pressure to challenge other women's critical words and behaviors is another boundary to achieve her freedom.

Woman w/ Woman w/o
courage and awareness courage and awareness

being looked upon has no freedom
Ammu Another parallel relationship is brother-sister relationship between Chacho v.s. and Estha v.s. Rahel.
Chacho > Ammu // Estha = Rahel
Chacho has superior position to Ammu in the family. He goes to Oxford for college, and comes back to take over his mother's factory. He clearly understands men's privilege in India, and practices his "right" fully. He even says to Ammu, "What's yours in mine, and what's mine is also mine." The superficial argument between them can't represent their competing equality in the reality, since he hardly respect Ammu's opinion. But Estha and Rahel know how to cooperate to get benefit together as they still fight sometimes. The mutual understanding between the twins makes them more like a double; they share thoughts, feelings and experiences in common. Due to each other's existence, they feel completed as one "single Siamese soul."
Inside the skyblue Plymouth, this whole family is against the Indian society in a sense because of the colonized influence. Chacho says that they are all Anglophiles no matter how he would like to deny. They believe in the positive British education, culture, custom and profits that they get from the Western world, and distinguish themselves from other native Indian people. However, it confuses their self-identification, so they thus belong nowhere. They live in India, but they out of India too.
Anglophiles Traditional Indian
No self-identification Native Indian
This confusion and lack of belongings are actually resulting from Pappachi's moth; their helpless family shadow keeps doubling from generation to generation.
I think the concept of doubling is the base of the structure of the story. The changing differences between two people, two events, two genders, two cultures and so on reflect more perspectives and lay out more comparisons. There are so many conflicts and boundaries need to be solved or broken in this Indian family, and this structure help to make the center issue more clearly and approach the problems more strongly and deeply with a bunch.

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