The argument in the story “Living the Dream” by Urvashi Butalia revolves around the Indian society. This is strongly grounded by the fact that the writer, Butalia, who was born in Indian and educated there before pursuing further studies in London. In this regard, the source of inspiration for Butalia, hence the argument lies in the Indian background through which she was raised. She was able to see the plights that faced women in that particular society hence prompted her to writing on matters that would not only sensitize women but also empower them.
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The main argument in the story lies in the kind of sexual discrimination that women in the Indian society are subjected to. Women are stigmatized and are seen as subjects to the societal norms. In that particular society, we are told that women were less ambitious in life following the fact that they were bound to be married off by their parents once they completed their education. Furthermore, we are told that education was not primarily important to the girl child as few of the ladies had managed to make it to college. Some of the well paying jobs were also not associated with women hence.
Having made this observation, and through the contrast between Bina and Priyanka, Butalia tries to raise the argument that regardless of the social stigma directed towards women, they could still make it in life and make their own choices. Bina has been brought out as typically stigmatized lady in the society whose life was dictated by her parents. This was through the forced abortion that she was subjected to and the marrying off which had been arranged by her parents. This clearly shows that women did not have any choice. However, Priyanka is a complete contrast to this stereotypic view of women as she emerges as independent, prudent and also reliable. Butalia has used Priyanka to strengthen her argument that women can still make it in life if they put their minds to it.
With such an argument and with known past of the writer, Butalia, it becomes increasingly difficult to trust such a writer. Butalia poses as a feminist and one who tries to oppose any negative notion directed towards women. On first thought, one would see that Butalia is justified in being a feminist as she is only fighting to enlighten women on their rights as well as empowering them to become independent. However, this idea can also be exploited as the same channel can be used to gang up women against men hence create a gender based social division. This can be achieved through continuous portrayal of men as exploitative, irresponsible, tyrannical and stereotypic. Inasmuch as some of these practices may be evident, some form of exaggeration may be incorporated hence shadow any positive attribute of men in the society. With this view in mind, it becomes difficult to trust Butalia. We do not know whether her cause may be justifiably to empower women or is it to demean men.
Nevertheless, the argument raised by Butalia may work, in a positive way, in a number of ways. To begin with, the contrast that Butalia has employed between Bina and Priyanka is self explanatory. Bina has been portrayed as someone who is weak and this is illustrated by the fact that she had ran away from home and after being found after three days, she lay subject to whatever her parents told her. Secondly, Bina had shown some kind of irresponsibility by becoming pregnant which had resulted in her forced abortion. Priyanka on the other hand has been portrayed as a responsible and organized girl who managed her school work well together with her beauty practice. After completing her schooling, she embarked on making her own living as a freelance beautician. We are later told that her business was able to catch up so well that her sister in law became one who always parked her beauty products while her brother ferried her around in search of customers. Priyanka is determined to succeed and her success is shown by the fact that she was able to supplement her parent’s income.
Butalia is calling upon women to try and be independent through determination and ape the character of Priyanka regardless of what the society may say. She is sensitizing women to stop their naivety and be able to embrace changes if not to enforce changes. She has tried to show that women can also act as providers for their families just like in the case of Priyanka. Butalia’s argument may work if they view Priyanka’s venture as challenge directed towards them and try to follow after her footsteps.
In conclusion, “Living the Dream” by Urvashi Butalia is a story of enlightenment and empowerment for women. Priyanka is a symbol of determination towards change as well as acting as a break off from belittling social practices such as gender based discrimination. She is advocating for equality.
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