Document Type

Thesis

Degree

Master of Fine Arts

Major

Creative Writing

Date of Defense

11-17-2006

Graduate Advisor

John Dalton, M.F.A.

Committee

John Dalton, M.F.A.

Mary Troy, M.F.A.

Steven Schreiner, M.F.A., Ph.D.

Abstract

Set in India, this novel follows the narrator, sixteen-year-old Asha Mehtani, in her two-year struggle to decide between following tradition and following her own desires. Asha encounters an American teacher at her school who encourages her to read, to learn, and to follow her own path in life. But Asha¿s parents want her to get married right after she finishes high school, in an arranged marriage. By refusing to get married, Asha will damage her family¿s reputation and ruin her younger sister¿s chances of finding a good husband. Will Asha choose to follow her heart, to go to college and to work for a living, or will she buckle under the pressure from her family and society and agree to get married at eighteen? Strange Way Home takes the reader through a high school full of pedantic nuns, the construction of a school library, a series of increasingly odd suitors, chaotic wedding scenes, family conflicts and drama, and Asha¿s self-discovery through literature, learning, and exposure to new ways of seeing the world. The novel has parallels to Jane Austen¿s Pride and Prejudice with unexpected twists¿Asha notices the similarities between her society and Austen¿s, but Asha¿s object is independence rather than finding a husband. This story illuminates some of the struggles of teenage girls in India in a time when Westernization is bringing in new possibilities, possibilities of education and of independence, that are odds with the male-centered Indian tradition.

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