Thursday, 20 March 2014

Deconstruction on the Novel "Samudrantike"

The Theory of 'Deconstruction' on the Novel "Samudrantike" by Dhruv Bhatt

Name: Riddhi Jani

Roll no: 25

Paper: 8, Cultural Studies

Submitted to: Department of English

M. K. Bhavnagar University

  • ·       About Derrida and Deconstruction:-

Jacques Derrida (1930-2004) was a French philosopher. He is best known for developing the theory of ‘Deconstruction’. He is one of the major figures associated with post structuralism and post modernism. Derrida was influenced by Martin Heidegger, Plato, Ferdinand de Saussure, Claude Levi- Strauss and Samual Beckett. And other influences are his reading of Rousseau’s work and Andre Gide’s journal.

‘Deconstruction’ means a particular type of practice in reading the literary work. It is the theory that ‘subverts’ or ‘undermines’ the fact that is in the text. They tell it ‘assumptions’. Such assumptions in the text are provided by the system of the language. And they establish the boundaries, the coherence, and the determinate meaning of a literary text. The purpose of deconstruction is to demolish the text and re-create its meaning in a new way. Deconstruction not only destroys something, but it gives new vision or hidden connotations of the text. This technique is often misused in a destructive manner. But Derrida’s aim was not to destruct but to reveal the hidden assumptions and contradictions that mould the text. Deconstruction seems quite harsh because mainly it bits people’s dear and adjustable ideas. So, often Derrida is also viewed with deep doubt and suspicion.

There is ‘Yale School of Deconstruction’. In 1970, the work of Derrida was taken up and experimented with by four prominent literary critics in the department of English at Yale University, and then started ‘Yale School of Deconstruction’. Those critics are Paul de Man, J. Hillis Miller, Geoffrey Hartmann and Harold Bloom. These critics were inspired by Derrida for deconstruction. Yet, then, their brand of deconstruction was quite far from Derrida’s deconstruction. The Yale form of deconstruction leads us to highly playful and erudite form of close reading, while Derrida’s idea goes with either philosophical or political point.

Derrida, by deconstruction subverts that idea itself that a text has an unchanging or consolidated meaning. He challenges the author’s intention and proves that there is a vast place for numerous interpretations of a text. There never can be one meaning in any work of art. The theory of deconstruction is now applied to visual art and architecture also. There are two main things for deconstruction:

1.  Identify binary opposition:-

It notices what a particular text takes some thought to be natural, acceptable, normal, self evident, immediately apparent or originary. This shows which one is privileged upon another one and most importantly ‘why’? This is Derrida’s concern (mainly in the field of politics). Binary opposition notices those places where a text is more insistent that there is a firm and fast distinction between two things.

2.  Deconstruct the opposition:-

To do this we should show how something shown as primary, original and complete is composite or derived. Then how something shown as completely different from something else. In short somehow it depends on that thing. And then we should show how something represented as normal in  a special case.

*    Deconstruction of the novel:-

“Samudrantike” is a Gujarati novel written by Dhruv Bhatt. It was first published in 1993. It is translated in English by Vinod Meghani. The name of the translation is “Oceanside Blues”. This novel has translated in many other Indian languages also. It is the story of the civil engineer who just come for job into a small village of Saurastra from his city. The title means ‘near to sea’. This novel tells story of the people who live near to sea and work in sea like boatman, sailors, fisherman & farmers who do farming near sea.

Actually the writer himself went to sea-shore journey with his friends. And he writes those experiences with mixture of fancy and imagination. Now, if we go towards deconstruction of it, we first should see binary opposition in this novel. Mainly there are two binary oppositions:

1.  Village and City

2.  Nature and Science & technology  

These are two opposite things and in them one is privileged while other is criticized (directly or indirectly). Now, why this need of privileging one over another? And then what is privileged? So, I have some answers in a form of questions.

Ø At first look (of deconstructive sight), we find that rural (village) is privileged over urban (city). Why?
Ø Other thing is, does he want to prove people of city as more frank and understanding (as he living in city and paying by city) than rural people?
Ø In the case of ‘nature and technology’ it seems that ‘nature’ is privileged over ‘science & technology’. Then why? If he is working with technology, then he should give importance to technology. Or Hiddenly he doing the same thing (privileging technology) with praising the nature?
Ø In this novel, and not only in this novel, but in many other his novels the women characters are shown powerful (not beautiful but simple), glorious, knowledgeable & bright. So, it is also a question that a male, why he goes on praising (mainly rural) women a lot that seems sometimes like exaggeration?

Now, I am expanding the first two points, that in reality what he is praising village or city? The intellectuality that he shows by high language itself is a sign of his mind set. He is praising village and its people in too embellished language throughout the novel. But yet, simultaneously he goes on saying that he does not like to stay in that village. So, why this contradiction?

And other thing is, he describes many incidents, when he was made abashed by that rural people. And yet, he is praising their fairness. So, why he himself describes the incidents of his own abashment? And after those incidents, he recurrently uses that high language. Perhaps by this, he want to say that we people of city are more intellectual & better observer than rural people, we have better command over language and YET we are more kind, more loyal and frank people. So, we (urban people) can confess our own abashment without any hesitation. He directly doesn’t say anything. But it seems that he is saying to that rural people that “we are far better than what you understand us”. The reason is, naturally most of the rural and uneducated people keep negative attitude towards urban and educated people. I am giving examples from the novel.

First in English language, there is ‘YOU’ for second person singular & plural both. While in Gujarati, for first person singular “tu>and for plural tmewords are there. “tu>” is used for children and friends only while “tme” is used for elders & strangers and it is the word for giving honor to someone. So, there is one incident that when he goes to his workplace first time, there he goes to one farm. There was one eight or nine year old girl sitting. There was a well and bucket in that farm. He wanted to become fresh. So, he asked for that bucket to that little girl and her answer I am putting as it was:

"તે લૈ લે ને. આંય તને કોઇ ના નો પાડે."

Then he writes many words for praising that thing. He writes:

"આ નાનકડી ખેડુબાળાના તુંકારે, એક જ સપાટામાં મારી ઉંમરનાં કેટલાંયે વર્ષો સેરવી લીધાં...જીવનમાં કદાચ પહેલી જ વખત મેં શાસનરહિત સ્થિતિનો અનુભવ કર્યો. મારી સમગ્ર ચેતના નિર્બંધ, મુક્ત બનીને વાડીઓના પર્ણે પર્ણે રમી રહી."

          Now, these all are lofty words. Why he is praising this trivial incident a lot? The answer is in reality he could not tolerate that Girl’s such address to him. But he does not show his dislike about it. Instead he is praising it and showing as if he feels good. But then many times he brings “tu>-tme issue in this novel. It shows that that matter affected him a lot. So, we can say to hide his anger or dislike, he praises the things. When he started arguing with Aval for their one matter at that time he writes:

" '...અનાજ વાડીએ ઉતરાવવાની તને શી જરુર પડી ?' મેં જાણીજોઇને 'તમને' બોલવાનું ટાળ્યું."

Another example:

"ક્રિષ્ના ખારવો હતો પણ તેની ભાષા જરા જરા સંસ્કારી લાગી. જોકે તે દરેક્ને તુંકારે બોલાવવાની ટેવવાળો તો છે જ. કદાચ આ પ્રદેશમાં એવો જ રિવાજ હશે." 

And then,

"પેલા કિશોરો સામાન લેવા હોડી તરફ જતા હતા. તેમણે ક્રિષ્નાને પૂછ્યું, 'તું કે'તો હો તો હોડી જ દરગાયે લગાડીને સમાણ મૂકી દંઈ.' નાનકડા છોકરાએ ટાપુના ટંડેલને 'તું' કહીને બોલાવ્યો એ મેં નોંધ્યું."

        He recurrently goes on telling this. And it makes that first argument powerful that actually he didn’t enjoy that type of address from those rural people. In a way he thinks himself quite higher than them. But that pride he cannot bring out. So, he admires that thing.

        Then I said about his abashment by rural people. He writes those events & incidents to show his frankness and to show as if he is confessing those things by heart.

        Aval was taking care of his meal. He didn’t like it from the very beginning. Because he said:

"અવલનો ઉપકાર લેવો તે તેનું શાસન ચાલવા દેવા જેવું લાગતું હતું."

And he arranged his ration, but Aval took it before he got, without asking him. And he, in anger, started scolding her and said that he doesn’t like that simple food. Aval became hurt. Yet, she didn’t speak even a single word. Then he realized that she has only simple food for serving him. And he gives shape to his that harshness by these words:

"તે ચાંદની રાતે, એક એકલી, અજાણી સ્ત્રીને, તેની વાત સાંભળ્યા વિના, માત્ર મારા આવેશને વશ થઇને મેં જે શબ્દો કહ્યાં છે તે બદલ હું મારા શેષ જીવનના અંત સુધી રંજ અનુભવવાનો છું." 

After making mistakes, if we confess it in beautiful words, then people will remember only that confession, not mistake. And then at some extent that mistake will be considered valid. So, such confession then becomes one type of amendment. Our writer or narrator knows this age old fact very well.

Another incident is about Krishna Tandel. He is very claver boatman. He is the only person in that region who can drive boat even in unfavorable situation of the sea. So, our writer decided to go with him in such unfavorable environment for sea journey. And they started boating. Krishna was managing the boat very well. For fun he asked our writer to drive the boat. And though he didn’t know much about sailing he agreed. Krishna taught him a little about sailing and he tried. Then suddenly, Krishna dived in sea & left him alone in boat. And his heart beats go at height. His mind became dull & thoughtless by fear. He screamed but Krishna didn’t answer. He tried hard to manage himself and boat. At that time he was not thinking about Krishna, but about himself only. And then Krishna came back on boat from sea. Our writer scolded him and Krishna laughed. And this is their conversation in brief which shows our writer’s abashment by Krishna:

"ઘડીભર તો મને એમ જ થયું કે તું ખરેખર પડી જ ગયો છે. તારી ચિંતામાં હું વધુ ગભરાઇ ગયો."
ક્રિષ્ના એકદમ ગંભીર બની ગયો. તેણે મારા સામે જોયું પછી એકદમ ઠંડા સ્વરે કહ્યું,
"દરિયા માથે બેસીને સાવ ખોટું નો બોલીયે."
"કેમ ?"
"કેમ, ચિંતા હતી તો તું વાહેં ને વાહેં પાણીમાં કેમ નો પડ્યો ? આ પાટિયા હેઠે રાંઢવું પડ્યુ છે, કેમ નો નાખ્યું ? હું હાથે કરીને પડ્યો ઇ તને ક્યાં ખબર હતી ?"

And after this feeling of abashment he writes again in beautiful and feelingful language:

"તે પ્રભાતે એક ટંડેલ, છતાં સાવ ખારવો ન લાગે તેવો વિચિત્ર, ધૂની માણસ અને બીજો સુદૂર મહાનગરનો અજાણ્યો નિવાસી, મિત્રો બન્યાં."

Actually he was hurt and he in fact didn’t like Krishna’s such teasing. But yet he tells him ‘friend’ and then without saying anymore he started praising nature.

Then another incident is Krishna told him to take him to his home. But on that day suddenly, some sailors and boatmen met with an accident in sea. So, Krishna had to go there to help them. So, he couldn’t be able to take our writer to his home. And, he became angry on Krishna. Then he, by his own, went to Krishna’s home and met with his wife. She told him the reason, yet he didn’t want to talk with him. And in all these matter, he does not care for those who met with an accident, and he goes on scolding him. But, Krishna’s wife shows her care for those sailors, then he realizes and then suddenly he starts showing his care. It seems unusual.

Then I am writing about some incident with Sabur. From the very beginning, it seems that he doesn’t like Sabur. In their first meeting, he came to know that Sabur’s mother and father had passed away. At that time he shows as if he feels sorry for him. He writes:

"કોઇ ઊંચા મકાનની અગાશી પરથી રસ્તા વચ્ચે પછડાયો હોઉ તેવો અનુભવ મને થયો. મારું મગજ સૂન્ન થઇ ગયું. આ એકલવાયા જુવાનના માતા-પિતા ભૂખથી મૃત્યુ પામ્યાં તે તેણે નજરે જોયું હશે, આજે કે કોઇ કાળે એ દ્રશ્ય તેની આંખ સામેથી ખસતું નહિ હોય. તે વાતોડિયો શા માટે નથી તેનું જરાતરા કારણ મને મળી ગયું. હું તેની સાથે રહીશ તો જરુર તેને તેના દુઃખોથી અલગ કરવાનો પ્રયત્ન કરીશ. અત્યારે તો મે તેને દુઃખદ સ્મૃતિઓમાં ધકેલ્યો છે."

But then, he never tries to sympathies him. As novel grows, we come to know that he doesn’t like him at all. Sabur has burning desire to get land for farming. And our writer becomes cause in giving him free governmental land. But it was ‘free’ and moreover ‘governmental’. So, they were not given land but a bog stone. They were cheated in this way. First, our writer gave promise to Sabur, but when government agreed his application thaey come to know that they were given slab or four-five acre stone, instead of land. And the condition of government is that the taker of that land has to do farming on it. And our writer feels guilty. He tried to explain Sabur these all things, but Sabur was firm to get it. Then Aval forces our writer to give him that land. At that time, he became too bored by these uneducated people. So, he then told Aval that he cannot help Sabur anymore except giving the land. And Aval said:

"કર્યાનું ભાન રાખીએ તો ફળ ન મળે."

Again he feels hurt. Now, I am putting some sentences about Sabur that are written in this novel. It show his mind set about Sabur like rural people:

"તેણે (સબૂરે) ભારી નીચે મૂકીને પોતાની મેલી પોટલી ઉખેળી."
"મને લાગ્યું કે સબૂર 'સ્ટાફ' શબ્દ નહિ સમજે."
"સરવણ પગી ! આ સબૂરિયા જેવો જ કોઈક અણઘડ ગામડિયો હશે."
"કામ ન હોય તો તે (સબૂર) કદાચ ક્યારેય દેખાય નહીં. તેની, માણસોથી દૂર રહેવાની આદત મને ખૂંચી."
"સબૂર પ્રત્યે મને કૂણી લાગણી (?) અને થોડી ચીડ બન્ને હતા. તેના જેવો યુવાન અબોલ, કમઅક્કલ, ક્યારેક આળસુ અને માઠું લગાડીને ચાલવા માંડે એટલો આકરો હોય તે મને પસંદ ન હતું. પણ તેને જમીન મળે તેવું કાંઇ કરી શકું તો તે હું જરુરથી પહેલુ કરવાનો."  

He also doesn’t like to mix with people. And sometimes if he mixes, then he describes it as some extraordinary thing. See these descriptions:

"એકદમ સ્વાભાવિક રીતે હું આ લોકો સાથે ભળી કેમ શક્યો ? તે મારામાં રહેલો સભ્ય જીવ સમજી નથી શકતો."
"એ જનસમૂહના મેળાપ પછી મારું મન આનંદિત રહેવા લાગ્યું. હવે માર્ગમાં જે મળે તેને હાથ ઊંચો કરીને હું 'રામરામ' કહેતો..."
Now, what is new in it? And if he many times doesn’t like to mix with people, then why should he dislike the same habit of Sabur? And the way he goes to give him some particular adjectives, no one can say that he has ‘soft corner’ for Sabur in his mind as he many times asserts. So, in a way he is privileging himself over Sabur.

And Sabur did marvel on that slab of stone. He dug it, then filled it with clay and planted the trees. Our writer came to know about it & he surprised. Then he writes:

"આ ગંદા, કાળા સબૂરિયાને મેં ક્યારેય મારા ક્વાર્ટરના ઓટલે ચડવા નથી દીધો. આજે તેને ભેટી પડવાનું મન થાય છે. મેં તેના બેઉ હાથ પકડ્યાં અને થપથપાવ્યાં."

Here also, he doesn’t change his adjectives for Sabur. Means his attitude towards him is same. And then why did not he hug him if really he wanted to hug? It shows that still some dislike is there in his mind for Sabur.

Other incident that we can see from deconstructive sight is that he doesn’t like this place, yet he goes on admiring the beauty of it. See his contradictory attitude by these two different descriptions:

"હવે શરૂઆતમાં થતી તેવી ઉદાસીનતા ભરાઇ આવતી નથી. કોણ જાણે કેમ પણ હું આ ખારા, અમાપ જળરાશી સાથે, ઊંચી, ભયાવહ કરાડો સાથે; ધૂળ ઉડાડતા ખારાપાટ સાથે અને વનખાતાના માણસોએ સર્જેલી આ બાવળિયાની કાંટ સાથે અજાણપણે બંધાતો જાઉં છું...પ્રકૃતિ એક પછી એક રત્નો બીછાવતી રહે છે અને મને મોહ પમાડતી જાય છે."

Now, in reality, there is nothing beautiful in those things. And then, just after these lines his conversation with one saint comes. In it he says:

"અહીં એકલું બહુ લાગતું હશે નહીં ? મેં પૂછ્યું, 'રોજ એકધારું જીવ્યે જવાનું.' મારા મનનો આ સ્થાન પ્રત્યેનો અણગમો હું છૂપાવી ન શક્યો."

Now, just now you said that it is attracting you and suddenly you start disliking it? He doesn’t remain with one attitude or interpretation. And we can say that these all admirations, in rhetoric language are to hide his contempt towards this place. Thus many such examples we can find to deconstruct the language of the text. For it we should not go with the flow of the novel. We should do close reading and at every moment we should ask questions to its language. I simply tried to deconstruct it. There may be many mistakes and misinterpretations of mine also. But in a way the theory of deconstruction says that there is enough stuff in the text itself to deconstruct it. And this theory gives us the sight to see the hidden things, it gives us chance to overcome the assumptions that are laid in the text.  


  1. it's really helpful ........
    to understand the theory on gujrati book.......

  2. It was really helpfull..
    Thanks a lot..