Cultural studies

? “Literature is the mirror of life” is one of the main quotes which our lecturer, Mr. Puveneswaran keep on telling to us in his every lesson. This quote answered my question which I asked myself since the first lesson of Literature in English. A great literature is the mirror upon which the realities of life are reflected. A term that used to describe written or spoken material is known as literature. By studying this subject, I could understand that literature is all about the obsession with ideas and also a way in which we can capture and interpret what has happened and is happening to us personally and to the world as a whole.
Broadly speaking, the study of literature allows people to develop new ideas and ethical standpoints and can help individuals to present themselves as educated members of society. There are many short stories that I have studied in this semester such as A Dream of China, The Mahogany Table, No Place For A Woman and so on. As the requirement of my coursework, I choose two short stories such as Everything’s Arranged and Dey Raju. This Everything’s Arranged by Siew Yee Killingley tells about a Ceylonese girl named Rukumani having secret affair with a Ceylonese boy named Devanayagam while studying at University.
Their secret affair discovered by their parents. Rukumani have struggle and suffer because of their family members, relatives and their community as they try to get together in life. The Ceylonese, however educated, still hold to their tradition, beliefs and family values so adamantly. At the end their marriage was called off. Dey Raju by Saras M Manickam is a story about a boy named Raju. Raju’s father arranged a marriage for him. Raju wrongly saw the ‘bride’. He refuses to get married because the lady that he thought his bride was fat.

Amazingly, he found out that the fat lady was not his bride. His bride was beautiful. Raju got to know the truth and talked to his bride. They both love each other. According to Mathew Arnold, literary criticism is a disinterested endeavor to learn and propagate the best that is known and thought in the world. Using the theories and principles of theoretical criticism, the practical critic defines the standards of taste and explains, evaluates, or justifies a particular piece of literature.
Since there are a few literary criticisms in those two short stories, I found cultural criticism is the most suitable one for those two short stories that I have been chosen. Cultural criticism is known as criticism or analysis of a specific culture and society on a continuing basis with the end result being some sort of practical solution being found to fix any problems. In the Everything’s Arranged short story, Indian culture is well depicted and portrayed. As a Ceylonese, Rukumani’s parents believe that marriage is a spiritual thing and if a girl has an affair with a guy before marriage, it is considered as a sin.
The girls shouldn’t be in love before marriage. This can be clearly seen when a man who is a visitor to Rukumani’s house said that “When we were young our mother never mentioned the word ‘marriage’ to any of my seven sisters until two days before they were to be married. Everything fixes first, then talk. ” We can know that they are very possessive and exposed to Indian culture that were truly practiced when Rukumani’s mother scolded her by telling that Rukumani have been so brazen and shameless as to spoilt yourself with her beloved ones.
Even though she protested herself that she never did anything wrong, her mother cried and told her not to tell about shameful things. I also found evidence for the culture that they belief where the girls shouldn’t choose a guy as their life partner by themselves. For an example, “How dare you choose somebody for yourself? ” wept her mother. Moreover, sex is an issue that cannot be mentioned in home. There was stated that Rukumani’s parents liked to pretend Rukumani was too spiritual to know anything about sex and that topic was never mentioned at home.
The Ceylonese, however educated, still hold to their tradition, beliefs and family values so adamantly. Education failed to change their thinking. Social life is a taboo for their young sons what more for a daughter. Dey Raju is one of the most favorite short stories of mine where I found the pure love between married to be couple. The cultural criticism in this short story is arranged marriage. Raju who works in Kuala Lumpur received a telegram from his father states that “Marriage arranged. Come immediately”.
Even though he hasn’t seen his bride, he agreed to his father’s statement and went back to his hometown immediately by train without thinking for a second. When the mates at work ribbed Raju mercilessly about marrying a bride that he had never seen before, he said that “Mine was traditional Indian culture with five thousand years of history. By golly, I was proud of it”. This shows that Raju is still conservation and holds his Tamil culture which is arranged marriage. This is also can be clearly seen when an elderly neighbor from home, Auntie Rukku asked him whether he has set eyes on his bride and know his bride’s name or
not. “It’s our tradition, Auntie Rukku” replied Raju. It is being a common thing to modern culture where people can find their own spouses and didn’t depend on their parents but yet Raju follows the Indian culture. In a conclusion, I could understand more clearly and well about cultural criticism by reading and interpreting those two short stories. I also able to know that the formal study of literature enables us to explain our responses to any text, allows us to articulate the function of literature in an academic and a personal way.

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