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A Devoted Son by Anita Desai

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The story 'A Devoted Son' by Anita Desai is an exploration of a son's devotion to his father through good and bad times. It portrays/depicts/represents the growing disillusionment of an aging father who misinterprets/misconcieves the concern and affection of 'a devoted son'. The son is deeply attached to his father and remains loyal to him until his last days.

Rakesh seeks his father's blessings every time a milestone is accomplished in his life. When the results of his medical exams are declared, in which he scores first division, he breaks the news first to his father. The family is elated and neighbors visit/come to congratulate him. Years later, Rakesh still touches his father's feet for his blessings after returning home from the USA. The father is devoted to his son's ambitions as well. He makes a lot of sacrifices to fund his son's education. He is extremely proud of his son and the success and fame that he achieves.

Rakesh is also dedicated to his mother and respects her wishes. He marries the girl of her choice and nurses her during her last days. He quickly becomes successful and opens up his own clinic. He drives his parents in his new sky-blue ambassador to his new clinic.

He takes the role of supporting the family after his father retires from his post. When his father's health deteriorates he personally supervises his diet. He would bring him his morning tea and would read the newspaper to him. There exists an acute irony in the story. Everyone is envious of old Varma for having such a talented son who respects and honors his father. But old Varma takes a different view of things. He is hurt by the authority in his son's voice and the fact that he is denying his father the food he likes. Soon everything that the old man likes eating is replaced by everything boiled from the vegetables to chicken. He feels that life's pleasures have been taken away.

There is an ironic difference in the perception of the father and the son. On the one hand, the father sees his son as heartless and insensitive, ungrateful for the sacrifices made for him. On the other hand, the son feels himself duty-bound to look after his father's health and therefore deprives him of things that would harm him.

Another irony in the story is that, Rakesh out of sheer love and respect for his father, attempts to prolong his life and make him healthy by depriving him of the things he likes and thus robs him of his mental peace.



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