Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Donald Tuck


The thesis was prepared for "Humanities" which no longer exists. Dr. Donald Tuck was a professor of Philosophy & Religion, so the thesis has been classed there.

Degree Program

Department of Philosophy & Religion

Degree Type

Master of Arts


The theme of the conflict of old and new, tradition and modernity, east and west in contemporary India has been a major concern of many Indo-Anglican novelists of the post-independence era. This study focuses on the reactions of various authors to this theme, as expressed by their treatment of it in the novels.

Four particular aspects of the theme which are explored in the novels, the fate of the family, economic upheaval, a questioning of religion, and the impact of the conflict on the individual person are discussed.

Three reactions to the tension facing contemporary India are expressed by the novelists. First, a significant number of the authors reflect the attitude that all which is good in life is encompassed within the tradition. A second reaction which is developed in several novels is an acknowledgement that there is something to be gained from the interaction of the seemingly opposing forces. The third reaction is a sense of impotence, and is expressed with two different emphases. For certain authors the impotence suggests a helpless individual caught between the destructive force of change. But the seeming helplessness of the individual is also portrayed as a wise relaxation to the forces of life which will themselves resolve the conflicts.

In the first chapter, the challenges to the family expressed in the novels are explored with an emphasis on the potential disintegration. The treat of the idea of romantic love, the role of the joint family and, finally, Nayantara Sahgal’s unique view. The changing economic attitude are explored in Chapter 2. Sudhin Ghose’s romantic approach is shown in contrast to the works of realistists such as Kamala Markandaya and Bhabani Bhattacharya, who treat the difficulties of the individuals trapped in the changes and a society looking for a solution. In chapter 3 the conflict expressed in several novels between the traditional religious view of life and the emerging secular view of life is explored. The reaction of tree novelists to the idea of Hinduism as a religion which rejects the concerns of this world, and focuses rather on spiritual concerns, are also discussed. Finally, the last chapter deals with an often repeated theme, the crisis of personal identity created by the meeting of cultures.


Arts and Humanities | Philosophy | Religion