An Itinerary of Silence: Saadat Hasan Manto's Gendered Narratives of the 1947 Partition of British India Open Access

Mehta, Pooja R. (2016)

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The 1947 Partition of British India marks both the largest peacetime migration and the most grotesque fascination with gendered violence. The independence of India from Great Britain in 1947 was a pivotal point in the history of the South Asian subcontinent, a culmination of the ongoing strife between India's Muslim and Hindu population with an ultimatum: how long could both religions live together until violence and power eventually separated them into two distinct communities? The answer was quickly with the Indian Independence Act of August 1947, sparking widespread violence that the national archives of both nations would be unable to acknowledge. The widespread sexual violence would attempt to be rectified through the repatriation of abducted, or lost, women; however, the female experience of Partition would remain silenced even if the woman were rehabilitated into her community. Because the archive cannot acknowledge the female experience (and therefore the agency of women), the history of Partition consists of gaps, gaps that only literature can call attention to. The following thesis seeks to shed light on the trauma incurred from the 1947 Partition of India through an intertextual analysis of the short stories of Saadat Hasan Manto. A writer who experienced the displacement of Partition, Manto viewed literature as an "ornament" constructed by writers, a view that values the narrative as a means of informing gaps in the political production of history. An in-depth analysis of five of Manto's short stories, all portraying the female experience, will explore the woman as a subaltern figure in relation to the gendered violence that characterized the entirety of Partition. Through attention to the portrayal of gendered violence in Manto's fiction, the thesis will trace the silencing of women's narratives and the appropriation of women's bodies in the 1947 Partition of British India.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

The 1947 Partition of British India: A Subaltern Studies, Feminist, and Literary Approach

Chapter 1 18

A Working History of the Long Partition: Colonialism, Independence, and Bureaucracy

Chapter 2 31

Widespread Sexual Violence: Othering of Female Bodies

2.1 "Bitter Harvest" 35

2.2 "Colder than Ice" 42

Chapter 3 48

Repatriation: Exchange and Displacement of Women's Bodies

3.1 "The Return" 54

3.2 "The Dutiful Daughter" 64

3.3 "A Girl from Delhi" 70

Conclusion 76

Bibliography 80

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