Rabindranath Tagore: Short Stories

Women in "Punishment" and in Traditional India College

"Punishment" by Tagore depicts the nature of an earlier society by making its women personages powerless. This story revolves around Chandara accepting responsibility for murdering her sister-in-law, Radha. Though she is not the perpetrator, she accepts the blame at the request of her husband. This request saves his brother by accepting punishment for killing Radha. After claiming to kill her, Chandara chooses death to gain freedom. There are deep parallels between Tagore’s culture and the events within the text. Through Punishment, the author criticizes how Indian society forces women to remain invisible, accept gender norms, and struggle for power.

Within "Punishment," women are invisible within their society. The emotions of women are not as important as the emotions of men. At the beginning of the story, the narrator notes that Chandara regularly argues with Radha in the morning. This bickering was said to be like “when the sun rises at dawn, no one asks why” (Tagore 964). Unlike the women, the disagreement between male laborers and their employers is recognized as an important event. Along with being unacknowledged, women are considered replaceable. Chandara’s husband, Chidam, claims that he can always replace his wife,...

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