ISSN NO. 2581-9070 ONLINE

Violence against Women in Shashi Deshpande’s Short Stories-C.V. S. Ravindranath

C.V. S. Ravindranath

Asst. Professor of English

Dr. V. S. Krishna Govt. Degree College (A)


Andhra Pradesh, PIN: 530013

Mobile: 9247547541

[email protected]

Violence against Women in Shashi Deshpande’s Short Stories


Violence against women is widespread, and may affect women of any age, class, race, religion, sexuality, or ability. Among all forms of brutality and abuse, women are most at risk surprisingly from men they have already known. Shashi Deshpande, one of the popular Indian feminist writers of the last quarter of the 20th century writes about the unspoken realities of women’s lives, drawing attention to issues ranging from domestic violence against women, strained relationships between wives and husbands, loneliness and rejection within arranged marriages and other issues affecting women. She has made bold attempts at giving a voice to the disappointments and frustrations of a woman. This paper focuses on the problems of suppression, oppression and victimization of women in the short stories of Shashi Deshpande with special reference to her short story, ‘My Beloved Charioteer’.

Key words & phrases: Violence against women, abuse, strained relationships


Violence against women can be any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, compulsion or subjective deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life.     It has a considerable impact on the health and socio-economic status of women. It affects the health and welfare of children and young people who witness violence against women who happen to their members of the family.

Bullying that takes place over digital devices like cell phones, computers, and tablets is called Cyberbullying. It can occur through face book, whatsapp, instagram and other forums where people can view, participate in, or share content. It includes sending, posting, or sharing negative, destructive, false, or mean content about someone else. It can include sharing personal or private information about someone else causing humiliation or uneasiness. Sometimes cyberbullying leads into unlawful or criminal behaviour.

Domestic violence, spousal abuse, marital violence, or wife-beating—it is written about by leading authors of the time. Indeed, there is no such phrase as “domestic violence” in the nineteenth century. Although there are cases of husbands being abused by their wives, the majority of victims of abuse are female. Domestic violence is covert or overt, it occurs in upper- or lower-class households, the secrecy and shame surrounding the abuse perpetuated the problem and delayed legal protection for women of all classes. When husbands physically abuse their wives behind closed doors, the victims have different reasons for keeping silent about the violence. Men seek to protect their reputations in the community while verbally and physically battering their wives in the privacy of their homes. Women have a far more humane reason for keeping the violence hidden: they want to protect their children and other family members from learning of the abuse so as not to frighten them or to be a burden.

Domestic violence is blind to social status. Absolutely everyone is at risk of becoming a victim of domestic violence when there is no mutual respect between marital partners, there is no sense of morality that deems the very thought of abusing or threatening another as unthinkable, and there are no comprehensive laws with sufficiently prohibitive sanctions.

Shashi Deshpande is an Indian short story writer and novelist and the recipient of the Sahitya Akademi Award. She is the recipient of the Sahitya Akademi Award for the novel ‘That Long Silence’ in 1990. Her stories show frankness and boldness not found so far in Indo-English short fiction. Her women tend to be the architects of their own fate. Hers are the authentic, poignant tales of the middle class educated women and their exploitation in a conventional male-dominated society.

Deshpande’s short stories are more or less a fictionalization of personal experiences. Most of the novels present a typical, middle-class housewife’s life. Deshpande’s main concern is the urge to find oneself, to create space for oneself to grow on one’s own. One striking thing about her novels and short stories is the recurrence of certain themes in them. But the predicament of women – especially those who are educated and belong to the middle-class – has been most prominently dealt with. Many of her characters are persons who are frustrated either sexually or professionally. Shashi Deshpande’s short story “My Beloved Charioteer” describes how three generations of a family live together with different mindsets. The story also reveals the hardships faced by widows in a male dominated society.

Arti is the mother of Priti. She has been in deep depression since the death of her husband, Madhav. She loves two persons in life – her father and her husband. As both of them died, her grief knows no bounds. Arti’s mother reacts to her daughter’s love towards her father.

            For Aarti, it was always her father … Even after his death; he can give her                    something I can’t.

Arti is unable to return to her normalcy. She does not talk to her mother as well as her daughter.  All the day she either sleeps or smokes. She doesn’t bother about her looks or dressing. She is confined to four walls.

The grandmother in the story is the narrator. She is called Ajji. She finds solace in her granddaughter Priti’s company. She is a ray of hope in her meaningless life. Priti too is happy to spend her time with Ajji. Arti is lost in her own grief in such an extent that she neglects the needs of her daughter. But Ajji can’t see grief-stricken Arti. She tries her best to bring her back to the happiness but is a failure. She hopes that Arti will talk and laugh again one day. The mother wants to share the sufferings, sorrows of her daughter but cannot. It hurts mother that Arti can find her comfort from her dead father and not from her living mother. The incident of breaking the glass on her late father’s photograph comes like an opportunity to mother. Arti always has loved her father than mother. But now mother introduces Arti to her father’s latent traits of character. The mother tells Arti that she was always dominated by her husband.

     He was your father… but what was he of mine? I lived with him for 25 years. I know he didn’t like unstringed beans and stones in his rice. I know he liked his tea boiling hot and his bath water lukewarm. I know he didn’t like tears. And so, when your baby brothers died, I wept alone and in secret. I combed my hair before he woke up because he didn’t like to see women with loosened hair, because he hated to find stray hairs anywhere. And once a year he bought me two saris; always colours that I hated. But he never asked me and I never told him.

Arti at first refuses to know the dark side of her beloved father. But her mother insists on realizing the true picture of her father a husband.

At night, I scarcely dared to breathe; I was so terrified of disturbing him. And once, when I asked whether I could sleep in another room…. I don’t how I had the courage… he said nothing. But the next day, his mother, your grandmother, told me bluntly about a wife’s duties. I must always be available. So, I sleep there, afraid to get up for a glass of water, scared even to cough. When he wanted me, he said, ‘Come here”. And I went. And when he finished, if I didn’t get out of his bed fast enough, he said, “You can go”. And I went.

The mother discloses the husband’s oppression she has experienced throughout her life, which opens her daughter’s eyes to the character of her father which results in the reconciliation of the daughter with her mother. At the end mother is happy because she makes her daughter to look at her. She does not bother whether there will be change in attitude of Arti towards her. She is satisfied because the locked door of the communication is opened. Arti comes to know that her mother is “a victim of gender based oppression and patriarchal socialization.” At last the mother is successful to bring back her daughter to this living world again. Mother feels that the daughter is with her now, giving her new strength for new battle. Arti becomes the beloved charioteer of her mother.

Deshpande etches the dark pictures of an incompatible married life that is more a rule that an exception. The widowed mother of the story ‘My Beloved Charioteer’ discloses to her widowed daughter the oppression she experienced throughout her married life of twenty five years. The point of interest in the story is that despite the sexual and emotional oppression for twenty five years, the mother is not broken like the daughter, who neglects her child and herself after widowhood. The mother constantly remains constructive and overcomes the destructive forces of society.


  1. Global Horizons by Orient Blackswan 2016
  2. Collected Short Stories by Shashi Deshpande