Beneath the Lihaaf: Sites of Freedom and Imprisonment in Ismat Chughtai's The Crooked Line and The Quilt Open Access

Khera, Zoya Pramod (2016)

Permanent URL:


This thesis examines the sites of freedom and imprisonment as depicted in two of Ismat Chughtai's most famous works, Terhi Lakir/ The Crooked Line and Lihaaf/ The Quilt. These sites are defined in relation to the degree of agency accorded to the characters, and their ability to express their sexuality. Through examining these sites, the thesis argues that sexuality is used as a tool for gaining agency in these two texts. The above is argued in two ways: First, through demonstrating that the expression of female sexuality is an act of rebellion against the patriarchal society of the texts, which additionally allows them to hold greater power in the household; Second, through illustrating how this sexuality is used to alter the role of the woman as voiceless symbol of the nation, created by the nationalist movement of the freedom struggle. Further, I argue that through expressing their sexuality, the female characters of the texts transform their sites of imprisonment into sites of freedom. Additionally, the thesis highlights the power dynamics inherent in sexual relationships and between the women of the zenana.

Table of Contents

Introduction. 1

The Progressive Writers' Association. 2

Ismat Chughtai. 4

Scope of the Thesis. 7

Situating the Thesis. 12

Chapter One: The Unconscious as a Site of Freedom and Imprisonment. 18

The Mother's Warmth. 19

Sexuality and Fear. 31

Chapter Two: Sites of Freedom and Imprisonment In the Spiritual Sphere. 43

A Divided Experience of Confined Sexuality. 44

Hierarchical Structures Within the Zenana. 55

Chapter Three: Sites of Freedom and Imprisonment in the Material Sphere. 62

The Role of the Woman in the Nationalist Movement. 62

Shaman as National Allegory. 71

In Conclusion. 82

Works Cited. 83

About this Honors Thesis

Rights statement
  • Permission granted by the author to include this thesis or dissertation in this repository. All rights reserved by the author. Please contact the author for information regarding the reproduction and use of this thesis or dissertation.
  • English
Research Field
Committee Chair / Thesis Advisor
Committee Members
Last modified

Primary PDF

Supplemental Files