The short stories contained in the anthology Inner Courtyard deal with the perspective of women in an oppressive society that demands for the female race to conform and how different women adapt to it’s norms. Written by women belonging to such societies (which are mainly Indian), the same is the main influence for these short pieces of literature. The main stress throughout the book remains on the strict and watertight boundary that women are placed behind in society. They are always meant to be – according to modern day patriarchal society – in the inner courtyard: never to see the light of freedom or individuality of thought and manner.
The two works that this essay utilizes to illustrate the influence of society over style, narrative and characterisation in literature are “The Library Girl” by Vishwapriya L. Iyengar, and “Girls” by Mrinal Pande from the anthology mentioned above.
“Girls” illustrates the hypocritical Indian society that leaves the female race dangling from quite a hysterical thread – where on one end “Girls” illustrates the way in which women are burdened with the ‘job’ of giving birth to a male child who shall carry on the name of the family, the other end illustrates the blindness, the ignorance which has become an essential part of the society projected there – girls must be deified until puberty so that one may appeal to the Gods as a ‘good human being’ – one who obeys the Almighty wherever required too.
“Girls” also projects a strained mother-daughter relationship, but it is (due to the girl’s age) far less developed, and it’s cause and effect varies drastically from that mentioned in “Her Mother”.
In both stories, style is heavily influenced by societal norms and it’s demands. “Girls” explores a more hypocritical aspect of that is – in comparison – only mildly hinted at in “The Library Girl”. Narrated from – again and as in “The Library Girl” – the innocent and ignorant point of view of a child whose accounts provide (on the...