Pigeons at Daybreak Short Summary

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The short story Pigeon at Daybreak by Anita Desai explores various literary criticisms, particularly gender criticism which examines how sexual identity influences the creation and reception of literary works. The story portrays the role of women in society, specifically Otima’s selfless love towards her sick husband, Mr. Basu. Otima plays the role of a good housewife, patiently taking care of her husband and doing all the household chores without complaining. The story highlights the dominant role of women in shaping life in their society and homes, despite being stereotyped as weak and inferior to men. It also reflects the societal norms surrounding gender and the role of wives towards their sick husbands.

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Based on the short story that I had chosen which is Pigeon at daybreak written by Anita Desai, I found that there are many literary criticism in her writing. As I read the story, I become more interested to analyse the literary criticism that have been used by Anita Desai especially gender criticism. This type of criticism examines how sexual identity influences the creation and reception of literary works. These critics may also explore how images of men or women in literature might reflect or reject the social norms around gender in a particular society.

In my opinion, Anita Desai shows a good example of gender criticism in this short story. I will elaborate more on gender criticism in this paper. This story is representation of love and acceptance. Mr . Basu is the man who is unable to perform his task on his own because of the different illnesses that developed into his body. Otima, the wife of Mr. Basu play a dominant role in this story. She has the selfless love towards her husband. She takes care of her husband without complaining anything.

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Otima always read a newspaper for Mr. Basu because Mr. Basu cannot read due to his poor eyesight. One day, their house had no electricity and they went to terrace then decided to stay there until the electricity comes back. But when the electricity comes back, Mr. Basu refused to go back to his home because he know his life will soon vanish and become a part of heaven. Mr. Basu actually had an asthmatic attack during that night when there is no electricity supply. He ask Otima to find his inhaler.

At the end of the story, Mr. Basu died and the pigeons in the terrace where Mr . Basu died symbolize his spirit and his journey in the next life. Anita Desai emphasizes the theories of gender criticism widely by showing the role of wife towards her husband. Otima plays her role as a good housewife in this story. She does all the house chores patiently without complaining although her sick husband, Mr. Basu burdens her. “So, she said, are you ready to listen to the news now? ” (line 24 page 220).

This line shows that Otima patiently treat her sick husband and this shows that husband has more rights to voice out whatever he wants his wife to do even though he is in bad condition. I found that, until today the situation is still the same. Wife must obey to her husband although their husband is sick. There is a case in Malaysia where a wife had to take care of her husband because her husband had a cancer. This is happening at Selayang last year. She had to split up from her children to look after her husband in hospital.

This is one of the example of the role of wife towards her husband that I found still happened till today. As I read the story, I see that the writer try to portray the female role as dominant one. In society women are stereotyped to be the weakest and least powerful or even inferior to men however this story is predominantly about women and how they shape life in their society and in their homes. In this story Mr. Basu’s wife does absolutely everything in her home from doing the everyday chores, the cooking, the cleaning and the main one taking care of her husband.

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Pigeons at Daybreak Short Summary. (2016, Nov 14). Retrieved from


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