In Custody

The Voice of "Others": A Critical Analysis of In Custody College


“Living in Delhi I was always surrounded by the sound of Urdu poetry, which is mostly
recited. But although there is such a reverence for Urdu poetry, the fact that most Muslims
left India to go to Pakistan meant that most schools and universities of Urdu were closed. So
that it’s a language I don’t think is going to survive in India.”

The above statement can aptly encapsulate the spirit of “In Custody” by Anita Desai, which,
even though may only reflect a linguistic on the surface, it goes much deeper. The book is a
struggle on various levels, the linguistic, cultural level and the gender level. This essay
attempts to cover how language and gender have ‘othered’ characters throughout the novel,
and how, in their attempts to deal with the same, they generate conflict, find themselves more
isolated than ever before.

However, before there is discussion on the various aspects of othering, there should be an
understanding of what exactly comprises “othering”. Simply put, othering means seeing a
group of people, or a singular person, as intrinsically different from oneself, almost like an
alien. The novel talks at great length about how the characters view and treat other characters
as the “other” and what do these perceived...

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