The Mango Season by Amulya Malladi, (2003) is the story of Priya Rao who comes from a strict Telugu Brahmin family and her struggles to convey to the family regarding her American boyfriend. She conceals it from her parents but at the time the novel begins, she is going back to India to inform her family member about her engagement to her American boyfriend Nick Collins. To inform her family becomes more difficult than she had expected, and now Priya postpones telling them the truth. Finally, she shows the guts to cross the unidentified cultural boundaries that exist between the Indian and American and takes the courageous step in spite of her family’s misgivings. In the meantime, she takes part in the customs of the mango season and finds herself returning to everyday life in India. She has been away for many years now and realises that she no longer feels happy in her homeland but would rather be “home” in America. She is forced to select between the love of her family and Nick, the future prosperity of her life.
In this essay, I will discuss about reader response critism on this novel based on the western vs eastern culture. According to The Reader Response critics claimed that the text comes alive only with the readers’ active participation and interaction with the text. They focused on the importance of the reader and the reader’s subjective response to the text. In this novel, Maladhi mention that the comparison between East and West where both side have come out with their culture and lifestyle, between a daughter struggling to love her family and tradition while living life on her own term.
As I read this novel, I found that their life style very particular on their tradition and belief. It shows when her American friends say that Indian women are demanded because they stay home doing nothing but raising their kids. I also feel culture and tradition help Priya to knows her extended family is very strict in following homecoming ritual, which needs to be held properly. The fundamental rule is that “you cannot come home without a substantial amount of gifts, irrespective of your financial predicament”. Buying gifts is a diplomatic mission because one can’t give gifts without diplomatic intentions because it may offend others. Therefore, Priya has to be a little diplomatic while fulfil the norms of her family tradition. In the same house, I feel that she experiences family politics and cultural clash between the members of her extended family. The battle between Lata and Radha is fought with taunts. Radha holds her head high because her husband is the managing director of an electronic company and they live rather lavishly compared to Lata. Radha is still irritated that her wedding sari had cost less than the sari her parents had given their daughter-in-law, Lata for her wedding. As Sarita Sarvate rightly observes the immigrant experience is complex, but Malladi minimizes it to a set of cardboard characters and everyday situations (36). Priya does not want to give up her live-in-relationship with the African-American Nick and does not dare to reveal to her family in India her relations with Nick. This has developed the sense of estrangement.
The ways of thinking
As I read this novel, I was getting so horribly disgusted at the narrow-minded views expressed by the older adults of the family, and I could completely identify with Anand’s feelings which being treated like a 5-year-old even though he was older and had been on his own for such a long time. In this novel, the inter-caste marriage of Anand and Neelima has taken place. Anand is a Telugu Brahmin while Neelima is a Maharashtrian Brahmin. In Priya’s family, a Maharashtrian Brahmin is considered a lower as compared to the Telugu Brahmin caste. Ananda’s secret marriage breaks everyone’s heart. All the family members are convinced that Neelima is not the right woman for him. They believe that Neelima is in fact a witch who has developed a spiteful potion to catch their poor little innocent son into her web. I disagree the ways Anand’s family treated Neelima like a stranger meanwhile she is one of the family member. Being of the same caste is not enough to approve a marriage in their thinking. To marry someone, that someone has to be from the same caste and same state. Therefore, a Maharashtrian Brahmin in the state of Telgu is considered the lower caste. When Anand finds that his wife is constantly verbally tortured by all the members of his family, he gets angry and says, “Neelima is my wife, she deserves respect. If as a family you all have decided to ill-treat her-“. He does not want to bear the torture that is being done because of caste. He goes against the very orthodox thinking of his family. He wants Neelima to get equal respect like the other members of his family. He desperately wants Neelima should not be discriminated for being a Maharashtrian Brahmin. Thus, there is a cultural clash between the modem thinking of Anand and traditional principle his parents. From this novel, shows that Eastern culture had influenced the way of thinking where in the marriage need the same caste.
At the same, I feel that everyone has their own decision in their life. In this novel, I feel Priya had mixed feeling on her decision whether to go after her heart or custom. It is a remarkable picture of modem woman’s pain over her failure to bring together her two worlds. Priya refers to the “two people inside me”. She looks to bring together the two halves of her individuality. When she leaves her house in Silicon Valley to meet her family in India, she carries with her a top secret-she has fallen in love with an American man and now is planning to marry him. Shortly after her arrival in her native land, Priya learns that her mother and father have selected a boy for her in the customary, traditional way of an arranged marriage. I know that every parent want the best for their son or daughter in future. Priya’s world is at once thrown into disorder, as she must settle between her passions and her parents’ requirement But given them a choice and guide them is the best way to show love to their children. It show that Eastern’s parent always control their children where Western culture ask their children live independent in future.
In conclusion, I loved this book because of the “insiders perspective” into an Indian family’s life. People in the U.S.A. are usually very surprised when they find out that arranged marriages are still very common in India. There are many beneficial, successful marriages done this way, and many that are not.