Thestory ‘A devoted son’ by Anita Desai is an exploration of a son’s devotion tohis father through waning and difficult times. Desai’s story focuses onthe theme of relationships between parents and children.
It portrays andrepresents the growing disillusionment of a father who misinterprets theconcern and affection of the titular ‘Devoted’ son despite his own deep attachmentto his father and remains loyal and obedient to the story’s end. Thisstory most namely shows the changing dynamic of the parent-child relationshipthrough the strains of time as well as dissolution of the dichotomy oftraditional familial structure. Further, the ability to rely on structureand external reality to provide an understanding of these dynamics is a recipefor personal unhappiness. Rakesh’sfather believes his son to be dutiful and devoted to his every wish and being.Rakesh seeks his father’s blessings every time a milestone is accomplished inhis life. When the results of his medical exams are declared, in which hescores within the first division, his father is the first person Rakesh revealsthe news to. The family is so happy that the neighbours visit and come tocongratulate him. Years later Rakesh still touches his father’s feet for hisblessing after returning home from the USA.
This should not be misunderstood; thefather is also very devoted towards his son’s ambitions. He makes a lot ofpersonal and economic sacrifices to fund his son’s education. He is extremelyproud of his son and the success and fame that his son has achieved.
Asthough Rakesh is a vessel for his father’s achievements, Rakesh and his fatherare living vicariously through one another; Rakesh through his father’sappreciation and pride of himself and his father as an extension of Rakesh’saccomplishments. Rakeshis also dedicated to his mother and respects her every wish. Rakesh marries thegirl of his mother’s choice and nurses his mother amidst the end of hermortality. He quickly becomes successful and opens up his own clinic. He thentakes the role of supporting the family after his father retired from the post.When his father’s health begins to deteriorate, Rakesh takes the initiative to preparehis dad’s diet to help his health.
He would bring him his morning tea and wouldread him the newspaper every day to him. Everyone is envious of old Varma forhaving such a talented son who respects and honours his father. But old Varmatakes a different view on things. He ishurt by the authority in his son’s voice and the fact that he is denying hisfather the food he likes. Soon everything that the old man likes eating isreplaced by everything boiled from the vegetable to chicken. He feels thatlife’s pleasures have been taken away. Rakesh is taking the time to careand support his father even in a time in his life when he is verybusy. There is an ironic difference in perception of the father andthe son.
On the one hand, the father sees his son as heartless and insensitive,ungrateful for the sacrifice made for him. But the son feels duty-bound to lookafter his father’s health and therefore deprives him of thing that would harmhim. Thehousehold dynamic changed by Rakesh, being not merely his parents` boy butphysician, did him every bit good. Mother and son bonded on her death bed butthe male parent, Varma, had trouble accepting his son’s authority andprerogative as his physician. With the impairment of the father`s wellness camethe impairment of their relationship. A regulated diet was mistaken fordiscourtesy.
“A boy who really refused his male parent the nutrient he craved?No. it was unheard of. it was unbelievable.
” All doctor’s orders from his boywere interpreted as a diminished devotedness even though the world was theexact antonym. “Outwardly all might be the same but the reading has altered:his consummate efficiency was nil but cold coldheartedness. his authorizationmerely tyranny in camouflage. ” Although his boy was merely seeking to maintainthe old adult male in the best wellness possible to protract his life for everybit long as possible. with old age diminished wellness and the loss of his marriedwoman. He, bit by bit, started to go disgruntled and, eventually died.
Thisshort story is most profound and subtle about the theme of degradationalongside respect. As though the two are hand-in-hand, Rakesh and his fatherfeel the full fulcrum of the pressure of earning and obligating respect as thedissolution of genuine respect manifested itself onto a spiritual and physicalreality. Irreconcilable as it is, both Rakesh and his father suffer thefather’s fate. Despite these glaring issues with respect, it seems mostpertinent to accept that their problematic relationship is largely due to avarying change in worldview; for example, Rakesh stops feeding his father hisfavourite foods and begins feeding him boiled vegetables and meets. Rakesh’spriority seems to be prolonging his father’s life whereas his father wants toexperience his joys and pleasures after years of hardships.