The Silver Bangles by Mulk Raj Anand
In The Silver Bangles by Mulk Raj Anand we have the theme of jealousy, patriarchy, connection, insecurity and anger. Taken from his Lajwanti and Other Stories collection the story is narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator and from the beginning of the story the reader realises that Anand may be exploring the theme of jealousy. Gopi is aware that Ram is conscious of the fact that Sajani is working in the house. Not only is he conscious of this but he is actively engaging with her even though Gopi considers her to be of a lower caste and as such should not be spoken to. What is also interesting is the fact that Ram is so blatant and obvious when it comes to his conversations with Sajani. He does not fear Gopi nor is he about to stop engaging with Sajani. This might be important as Ram, as the male of the house, is exercising his perceived rights as the master of the house. If anything Anand may be suggesting that both Gopi and Sajani live in a patriarchal society. Even though some readers might suggest that the real power within the house lies with Gopi who appears to be in control of the situation she finds herself in. However she is not in control of her emotions.
The theme of connection is self-evident in the story. Gopi and Ram lack any type of connection. They may be married for five years but they are not intimate and in reality Gopi does not really know her husband. If anything he is a lady’s man and likes to flirt with other women, including Sajani. Something which angers Gopi and makes her to feel insecure about her relationship with Ram. Something that many readers might understand and see as an acceptable defence for Gopi’s actions. She throughout the story is a woman who has been scorned.
There may also be some symbolism in the story which might be important. The fact that Ram is openly flirting with Sajani suggests that Anand is letting the reader know that Ram cannot be trusted, especially by Gopi. The food that Gopi cooks may be meant to appease Ram but he complains that the food is too hot. Which in many ways mirrors Gopi’s temper. She too is hot and disturbed by her husband’s actions. The fact that Mundu is criticized for the food being burnt, even though it is not his fault, suggests that symbolically Gopi wants to reprimand someone, particularly a man and cannot do so to her husband and as such Mundu is chosen as Gopi’s victim. Ram’s name may also be significant. A ram (male sheep) is uncastrated and as such is sexually active. Which may be the point that Anand is attempting to make. He may be suggesting that Ram is active not only sexually but in conversation with Sajani. He is actively engaging with her. The silver bangles can be seen to symbolise hope. Sajani feels as though the bangles make her a better person as she too believes she is of a lower caste than Gopi and Ram. The bangles also act as a trigger for Gopi’s jealousy.
The end of the story is interesting as the reader gets to see just how angry Gopi actually is. She verbally lashes into Sajani and does not give the poor girl an inch. She criticizes her caste and her perceived lowness in the world. The reader aware that Gopi is rattled and as such has to put Sajani down. It is also interesting that Ram does not intervene when he witnesses what Gopi is doing. This only leaves the reader feeling as though Ram is happy that he has disrupted his wife’s day and that she is prepared to fight for her marriage. Even if Ram himself is not that interested in the marriage but is more interested in other women.