Ice Candy Man Summary, Themes and Characters

Bapsi Sidhwa: Ice-Candy-Man

Ice Candy Man Summary The novel Cracking India (first published as Ice-Candy-Man in 1980), by Bapsi Sidhwa, explores the war that occurred during the Partition of India in 1947. The political and social upheaval engendered by independence and Partition included religious intolerance that led to mass violence, killings, mutilations, rapes, dismemberments, and therefore the wholesale slaughter of infants, children, men, and women, along side the displacement of many refugees—Hindus fleeing to India and Muslims fleeing to Pakistan.

Told from the first-person perspective of Lenny Sethi, a Parsee child who is about 4 years old when the novel begins and approximately 10 years old at the top , the novel portrays the complicated and shifting political and social ramifications of the Partition of India into two countries: a Hindu-majority India and a Muslim-majority Pakistan. Lenny and her family plan to quietly endure the partition that transforms Lahore, India into Lahore, Pakistan in August 1947.

Simultaneously, the novel operates as a coming-of-age novel delineating the parallel growth and formation of identity within the protagonist, Lenny, and therefore the country, Pakistan. Both suffer severe growing pains, as Lenny’s child-like vision becomes a quickly-maturing voice reporting upon the violence she witnesses, the various friends who are lost, the buddies who are betrayed by their former friends and neighbors thanks to religious differences, and therefore the terrible human cost of dividing one country into two along brutally enforced religious lines. Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, and Parsees all vie for survival.

As a minority group, the Parsee people first seek alliance with other ethnic groups to assist protect them, on the other hand quickly resolve to remain on the sidelines of the growing battle, hoping to cover in plain sight. In fact, Lenny’s idyllic childhood, during the primary third of the novel, is an idealistic backdrop, displaying the ethnic and non secular harmony that existed in Lahore before the independence and Partition of India. Ice Candy Man Lenny’s pampered, secure childhood mirrors the peace that precedes the slaughter of Partition. This peaceful coexistence highlights the later terrors of spiritual intolerance. Ice Candy Man Summary during this way, Sidhwa unfolds the macrocosm of the war through the microcosm of Lenny’s life.

Other parallels also link private life with the larger world. Lenny’s nursemaid, Ayah, attracts a multi-ethnic crowd of admirers that mirrors the complex ethnic compositions of both India and Pakistan. The breakdown of Pakistani and Indian society into violent ethnic and non secular groups mirrors the breakdown of the previously harmonious relationships between ethnicities and religions in Lenny’s world.

The novel’s themes explore human understanding of being both a social insider and a social outsider depending upon a person’s caste, religion, ethnicity, and economic status. It also examines the experience of being handicapped; the consequences of spiritual and racial conflicts; the subjugation of girls through arranged child marriages and prostitution; obsessions with sexuality; and therefore the dangers of politically-motivated violence. By employing a child for the novel’s narrative voice and perceptions, Sidhwa confronts the histories of India and Pakistan and their social, historical, and political complexities humorously and compassion.

However, Lenny’s childhood contains many horrors once Partition occurs. These horrors culminate with the last word dreadfulness of her own betrayal of her beloved Ayah to the Ice-candy-man and his Muslim thugs. Even her family is confounded by her action; she will barely forgive herself.

The last third of the novel demonstrates the united efforts of Lahori women, across ethnic and non secular lines, to repair a number of the damage perpetrated during Partition and its aftermath. Since parents hide painful truths from their children, and Lenny has proven that she can't be trusted, Lenny’s mother hides her own secret work, which involves dangerous, illegal trade on the black market to earn money wont to rescue women from enforced prostitution and sex slavery. Lenny only learns about this work near the top of the novel, when her Godmother demonstrates her power and authority by locating and stealing Ayah back from the Ice-candy-man. Lenny’s mother’s work enables them to send Ayah back home to her family in Amritsar, India. Perhaps the novel’s most hopeful sign for the longer term of Pakistan is that these women close to assist each other , no matter ethnicity or religion.


Ice Candy Man Themes

Ice Candy Man, Bapsi Sidhwa is among the important signatures in Pakistani literary world. Being a Parsi, she is aware of her roots, past and the Parsi community. Ice-Candy-Man is her major novel which introduces a child-narrator Lenny who narrates the events in the wake of Partition of India. Sidhwa's concern for her Parsi community, place of women in Pakistani society, human struggle for survival and dignity of man are major themes injier novels. In Ice-Candy-Man, Sidhwa presents her Parsi community in a dilemma over the issue of support. Partition is immanent and the question of loyalty haunts the Parsi psyche.

They are loyal to the Raj but now Parsis have to side either with India or the newly formed Pakistan. Sidhwa depicts Hindu-Muslim riots without any social discrimination. As the narrative progresses, history moves to the background and struggle for survival becomes the focus of the narrative. There are a number of novels written about Partition of India like Train to Pakistan by Khushwant Singh, Tamas by Bhisham Sahni, Azadi by Chaman Nahal, A Bend, in the Ganges by Manohar Malgaonkar, The. 

Rape by Raj Gill, Ashes and Petals by H.S. Gill, Twice Born Twice Dead by K.S. Duggal, The Dark Dancer by B.Rajan, Sunlight on a Broken Column by Attia Hosain and Ice-Candy-Man by Bapsi Sidhwa. These novels realistically portray and depict the upheaval that the Indian sub-continent experienced. It was the most shocking and traumatic experience of division of hearts and communities. These literary works leave the reader with the feeling of disquiet and disturbance. These novels deal with the tumultuous and traumatic moments in the life of one generation. (A Critic) observes that these works not only deal with the tumultuous times but also strips away the veneer of civilization that man hides behind. Ice Candy Man Summary They also hold a mirror to the element of savagery latent in man. "It seems, a stressful situation reveals the animal streak just waiting to be unleashed. This is made all the more strong by the support of a mob feeding on hatred."

Ice Candy Man deals with human emotions at play at different levels, heightened by turbulent times. In the process of shaping history, human emotions and relationships are relegated to the background. The tidal waves of violence, hatred and communal violence change the feelings of fraternity. Aradhika observes: "Like some ancient Satanic rites of witchcraft, the power to destroy, springs forth from an unsuspected fount within and the sheer pleasure of humiliating and massacring the victim is so great that one forgets one's own mortality." Bapsi Sidhwa in her novel Ice-Candy-Man delineates his characters and their antecedents with fidelity and with a feeling of contemporaneity. In the narrative of Ice-Candy-Man, the reader is introduced to the kind-hearted Khansama who is a veritable rebel, the loyal khalsa refusing to leave Lahore, Tota Ram the frightened Hindu and a Parsi family oscillating between-two view-points with neutrality hoping for their survival.

In Ice-Candy-man, the main characters are. Ice-Candy-Man and the 'Ayah', the maid-servant with the Parsi family. Ice-Candy-Man is a handsome and immensely popular youngman He is a generous fellow who is miles away from religious fanaticism. But one incident shakes his entire existence and his belief in the goodness of man is shattered. He becomes a witness to the mutilated bodies of Muslims in the hands of Hindus and he takes a vow to avenge the death of his Muslim fellows. This bitter experience wrenches out the darker side of his personality. This shattering blow transforms a kind and loving individual into a violent and frenzied person. On a crucial moment in the narrative, he asks the Ayah: Ice Candy Man "there is an animal inside me straining to break free. Marry me and perhaps it will be contained." Here Aradhika observes: "The ultimate betrayal is not by the innocent trusting little girl but by the devil of hatred that cannot be contained." Now the ice-candy-man plays the pivotal role of a raffish type man.

Like other novelists on Partition, Sidhwa also describes the ugly and terrifying face of Partition by recollecting the traumatic and agonising memories of those moments. Sidhwa also has tried to recreate history in emotion-laden and poignant scenes. The rumblings of Partition are felt in the beginning of the narrative and the atmosphere proper to the kind of a tale is gradually created. As the tension mounts, atmosphere becomes grim and awesome. Here one finds the worst kind of genocide in the history of mankind. Narratives like Ice-Candy-Man transport readers back into the corridors of time. This experience of being catapulted back into the dark and forgotten recesses of time leaves the readers shocked and unbelieving on the reaction of man. One witnesses the shocking and heart-rending scenes of the arrival of trains full of massacred Muslims chugging into the plateform with crowds waiting for another gift from Amritsar. Man is transformed into a brute, a savage lusting for blood. He is ripped apart, dissected to reveal animal form. The colourful streets of Lahore look ominously dreadful and deserted. The Hindus are still reluctant to leave their ancestral property where their generations have lived and prospered. Now they visualise a future devoid of any hope. These painful experiences are like the agonising throes of a new birth. It is still painful to recollect those traumatic and dreadful moments that turned the noble ones into beasts. Indeed the Partition of India remains the most agonising experience in history. A number of writers who wrote on Partitiontouch the gut of the problem in order that such blunders should never be committed by 'wise leaders'. Jagdev Singh observes, "The Partition of the Indian sub-continent in 1947 is one of the great tragedies, the magnitude, ambit and savagery of which compels one to search for the larger meaning of events, and to come to terms with the lethal energies that set off such vast conflagrations." These comments aptly throw light on the central theme of the novel Ice-Candy-Man.

The theme of inter-community marriage is at the core of Sidhwa's novels like Ice-Candy-Man, An American Brat and the Crow Eaters. Her handling of the theme of inter-community marriages is relevant and contemporary. This sensitive issue arouses acrimonious debates in Parsi Community. In Parsi faith, it is believed that a Parsi could be one only by birth. In mixed marriages, the children lose their right to be members of Parsi community. The Parsis have a patriarchal society. While dealing with the theme of marriage, Sidhwa maintains a balance without revolting against rigid social codes. In her novel An American Brat, Sidhwa examines the theme of inter-faith marriage in detail. Its protagonist Feroza migrates to America where she intends to marry a Jew boy David Press. Her Parsi community opposes this marriage and Feroza has to withdraw her move but she expresses her conviction to marry to boy of her choice only, irrespective of religion.

In Ice-Candy-Man, Sidhwa presents the theme of interfaith marriage through the love relationship between the Ice-Candy-Man and the Hindu Ayah. On seeing his fellow Muslims massacred, the Ice-Candy man goes mad with rage and keeps his beloved Ayah in the brothels of Hira Mandi in Lahore. Then he realizes his mistake and marries the Hindu Ayah but now love has become powerless. The Ayah is rescued and is taken to a Recovered Women's Camp in Amritsar. Thus, a number of themes have been well-integrated in the narrative of Ice-Candy-man.

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