Read this article to know about the feminism in Ice Candy Man by Bapsi Sidhwa.
Feminism in Ice Candy Man
Partition of Indian sub-continent has always remained a concerning topic for a number of writers of India as well as of Pakistan. But most of the works in both the lands are male-dominated. One finds bravery, chivalry, heroism etc associated with the male protagonists only. Female is represented as subdued and dependent being. Ice Candy Man is distinguished from most of the popular works as it focuses on female rather than on the man.
The story of partition is represented through the eyes of Lenny, who is lame. This disability of her also signifies the problems that a female writer faces while representing her views. Lenny, an eight-year-old child is the protagonist of the novel. She is innocent and unaware of the bitter differences among different communities. This can be judged on the basis of the fact that she is much attached to Shanta Devi, who is a Hindu.
But as the novel develops, her innocence withers away and the bloody experience of the partition takes its place. She gradually becomes aware of the dark realities of life. She witnesses the city of Lahore burning into the flames. She also becomes aware of the violence that happens with Rana and his family. Rana is the only survivor of his family. Males of his family are butchered and women raped by Hindu and Sikh marauders.
Such incidents of violence bother Lenny very much in the beginning, but with the development of the novel, she becomes used to it. Burning flames, fights, slogans, rapes, mass killings etc become the incidents of every day. In most of the novels dealing with partition, leaders like Master Tara Singh, J.L. Nehru, Jinnah and Gandhi are represented as heroes.
But in Ice-candy Man, we find them represented as culprits of this violence in the views of Lenny. This is one of the most distinguished features of this novel. Commonly, in most of the novels, male and the will of the male is dominant in terms of sexuality. But in Ice Candy Man, female acquires dominance. Lenny and the Cousin, who remains cousin throughout the novel and his name remains unrevealed, are in some kind of relation.
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Cousin often seduces Lenny by squeezing her breasts and playing with her genitals and Lenny on her part also plays with the penis of Cousin. But at some stage, Lenny becomes aware of her sexual dignity and restrains the lustful movements of Cousin. The Cousin tries his best to seduce her. But she boldly guards herself.
But in other novels, sexuality is represented with the will of the male. The woman is represented as someone who is weak and vulnerable to the lust of male. This shows the belief of Bapsi Sidhwa inequality in terms of gender and her contradiction with popular belief. Ayah is the other important characteristics of the novel. In addition to being a nanny of Lenny, she is a young woman of charm and beauty and knows well how to attract males. She has many admirers like masseur, gardener, butcher, Ice-candy Man etc.
She often dominates the situation. e.g. in one scene when an argument arises among her admirers, she threats to leave the group. At this, the argument is resolved for her and even Ice-candy Man vows not to argue again in front of her. In another scene, when Ice-candy Man compels her to spend time with her, she chases him away with a stick. Even in the ending of the novel, after becoming Mumtaz, she leaves Ice-candy Man and goes to Amritsar with the help of Godmother.
This shows how Sidhwa has made the self-interest of a woman more important than that of man. Sidhwa also attaches the quality of heroism to the women of Parsi Community. Lenny’s mother along with other Parsi women goes out in the night in order to help the victims run away to safe places. There is a lot of danger in doing so, yet they accomplish the task boldly. Moreover, Godmother helps Shanta to return back to her family in Amritsar on her plea. Thus Ice-candy Man is actually a novel that focuses on woman emancipation and is a feminist novel.