European Journal of English Language and Literature Studies (EJELLS)

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The New Subaltern in Arundhati Roy’s the Ministry of Utmost Happiness: A Postcolonial Study (Published)

Post- colonial theory has always been one of the most attractive academic fields of study since Indian sub-continent got freedom from colonization. The concept “subaltern” is the offspring of post-colonial situation that have triggered piles and piles of literature. With the advantage of socio-economic condition, the definition as well attributes associated to the term “subaltern” has altered a lot. Being a conscious writer, Arundhati Roy has concentrated her second fiction The Ministry of Utmost Happiness as a camouflage of contemporary socio-political problems that are relevant to the study of “subaltern”, specifically in South- Asian context. The novel is literally about everybody and everything happening in rapidly changing India, particularly about displaced and marginalized ones as the book is dedicated to “The Unconsoled”. Through the protagonist or the main character of novel, transgender issue was evoked. Other ongoing problems like gender discrimination, caste inequality, capitalism and many more socio-political facts were equally addressed. Arundhati Roy is an active activist and has a prolific career with books on capitalism, globalization and democracy. Thus The Ministry of Utmost Happiness is undoubtedly and instinctively an outburst of author’s observation of the “The New Subaltern” who are the victim of social and political unfair. So, this paper aims at examining Roy’s depiction of “The New Subaltern” in a setting of democratic India through her characters framing them into post-colonial situation. As the study of subaltern is ever-changing, this articles also attempts to trace the development of the subaltern study in south Asia.Contribution/originality: This article impart a new dimension to the ‘Subaltern Studies’, in broad post- colonial literature studies by demonstrating Roy’s perception of the new subaltern in presenting her novel The Ministry of Utmost Happiness. This also scrutinizes the novel in terms of its characters, language and socio-political context presented by author.

Keywords: Transgender, caste problem, socio-political unfair., the new subaltern, third world women


The entire systems of social categorization agree to for two sexes – male and female. But some societies explicitly articulate three sex categories, socially distinguishing hermaphrodites as a third, mixed intermediary, or alternate sex. Other societies seems to give consent to additional categories, allowing for a range of mixed, crossed, complex, or fluid identities in between male and female. Indian culture is based on the notion that there are two opposite sexes with distinct culturally approved gender characteristics. Using this binary system allows little tolerance for cultural and social variances of what is perceived to be masculine or feminine. Indian society is much more focused on sexual behaviour rather than social role choices and expectations. In Indian culture some people who are merely dissatisfied with their gender role often feel pressured to anatomically become the other sex through surgery. Some people do not believe that their gender identity corresponds to their biological sex, namely transgender people, including transsexual people and many inter-sexed individuals as well. Consequently, complications arise when society insists that an individual adopt a manner of social expression i.e. gender role which is based on sex. Sexuality, or gender identity, may be all about the cultural response to the individual. Some people may be born with confusing sexuality and they need to find the gender role that fits with their nature, and others find that the male/female, man/woman roles are not sufficient to embrace their gender/sexual role. The present paper examines how questions pertaining to sexual orientation and gender expression are inter-connected with the politics of citizenship. It also seeks to critically examine the social understandings of sexual identity and the powerful role that it plays in the arenas of family, personal relationships, the economy, work, the media, health, security and the environment. Through an examination of the selected literary texts in Indian writings in English, we will interrogate the ways in which heteronormativity permeates a variety of institutions in the public sphere. We may find answers and ways to respond that would embrace all human beings.

Keywords: Homosexuality, Sexual Orientation, Sexuality, Transgender, and Gender

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