‘The Stench of Kerosene’ | Analytical essay | 10 i karakter


The short story “The Stench of Kerosene” by Amrita Pritam follows a couple, Guleri and Manak. Guleri looks forward to visiting her parents in Chamba, her home village, as she does every year after the harvest.

Some of Guleri’s other friends also meet her in Chamba, where they enjoy their time together and take part in the harvest festival.

Guleri asks Manak to accompany her to Chamba, but he refuses. He asks her to stay home, but Guleri does not agree, as it is the only time, she can visit her family every year.

Manak agrees to go with Guleri part of the way and asks her again to stay home. Manak recalls meeting Guleri in Chamba seven years ago and falling in love.

When she asks him what he is thinking about, Manak seems distracted. After Guleri asks Manak to come for her on the day of the fair, Manak does not answer, and she leaves.

- Outer characterization
- Inner characterization
- Outer characterization
- Inner characterization
Physical setting
Social setting
Narrator and point of view
- Style of language
- Similes and metaphors
- Symbols
Themes and message
- Guilt
- Obeying customs and tradition

Guleri’s inner characterization first shows her excitement to visit her parents in her home village: “Guleri did not have to put her excitement into words:

The expression on her face was enough” (p. 1, ll. 26-27). Her excitement reveals that she is also homesick (p. 1, l. 7) and that she misses her friends:

Two of her friends too, who were also married to boys outside Chamba, came home at the same time of the year.

The girls looked forward to this annual meeting, when they spent many hours every day talking about their experiences, their joys and sorrows. (p. 1, ll. 12-15)

In her relationship with her in-laws, Guleri is obedient and respectful: “She went about her daily chores--fed the cattle, cooked food for her husband's parents…” (p. 1, ll. 20-21), behaving according to the traditional views on marriage roles.

The narrative suggests that, in her turn, Guleri is loved by Manak’s parents: “They patted her head and blessed her” (p. 2, l. 18).

However, the story reveals that her mother-in-law is unhappy because Guleri has not given birth to a child in her seven years of marriage (p. 4, ll. 19-21).

In her relationship with Manak, Guleri is loving: “she took Manak’s hand in hers” (p. 2, ll. 22-23). She lovingly asks him to play the flute (p. 2, l. 24) and wishes to spend the day of the harvest fair together: “ ‘Will you come and play it on the day on the fair?’ asked Guleri with a smile” (p. 4, l. 9).

Back when Guleri meets Manak for the first time, she is determined and confident: “ ‘Cattle go for unripe corn’, Guleri had replied, freeing her hand with a jerk. ‘Human beings like it better roasted.’ ” (p. 3, ll. 12-13), suggesting she values herself.

Furthermore, she instructs Manak to ask her hand in marriage, taking a more practical approach than him: “ ‘If you want me, go and ask for my hand from my father.’ ” (p. 3, l. 14). This also points out she follows the customs in her society.

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