Marriage and Memory in Burnt Sugar

Subjectivity can be traced throughout Avni Doshi’s novel Burnt Sugar and exists in its very framework, with an unreliable narrator telling her story through details from her insulated perspective. The novel’s central story around memory and its loss portrays how memory itself is fluid, and can change or be erased naturally or deliberately. Tara’s memory is fading, a process that frees her and imprisons her daughter, who is not afforded the same luxury and must carry the baggage for the both of them. Antara’s living memory is her own – it both anchors her to her difficult past and isolates her from her present life and marriage. An interesting theme within the novel is Antara’s closed off relationship with her husband Dilip with whom she is uncomfortable sharing her inner thoughts and struggles to confide her feelings. Their distanced relationship is an outcome of Antara’s childhood trauma and inability to share her past to others. This alienation connects to an overarching theme throughout the novel, reflecting on how the past affects the present, as the main character carries the weight of her past into situations in her daily life. Another interesting theme in the novel Burnt Sugar is how marriage is perceived differently by Antara and Tara. Antara sees is as an escape from her mother and the conformity of her childhood, while Tara views marriage as a conspiracy to confine her from really living. The everlasting present life of familial relationships and marriages can’t escape the burden of a subjective memory. 

By: Emmy, Julia, Bella, Sarah

This entry was posted in 2020 Booker Short List novels, Literature Circles aka #litcircles, Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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