The Elephanta Suite

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The Elephanta Suite is built out of keenly observed moments that stay true to the limited points of view of the characters. Was it the dry air? He was peering into the thickening dusk. He sounded so pompous chewing on this simple observation. They traveled a lot, and she had noticed how travel often made this normally straightforward man pretentious. Beth has been a faithful if myopic wife, Audie has been a philanderer.

As the plot progresses, we know the Blundens are close, used to each other, yet somehow out of touch. But we cannot predict the outcome, or even know if this bit of information from Beth is critical. This these stories, India causes the characters to react sharply to the sensory — but the messages are unclear.

The more the events at the spa, business meetings, and ashram tell the characters about their selves, the more silent India remains about its own hidden natures.

India seems always ready to accommodate every desire of the American — for discovery, wealth, sexual pleasure, forgetfulness. Nevertheless, The Elephanta Suite , as successfully as it works in terms of sheer plot, control of tone, and grasp of character, is also filled with canny insights on globalization, national character, and the itinerant life. For Dwight Huntsinger, recently divorced and suffering through a free-floating sense of personal failure, India gives him a way to identify with what he believes are the debauched and desperate ways of all humanity.

He has more or less outsourced his own personal development, such as it is, to India. The American manufacturers hated him — and they failed; the Indian companies were cynical, knowing that if they could not produce goods cheaply enough, they would be rejected. He could not take any pride in that process: he was part of it. Woven throughout the novel is the almost obligatory theme of worldliness and ambition versus anti-materialism and selflessness.

In the American mind, India instantly evokes some or all of these concepts, and so the visiting American is drawn in to them, conscious of being measured against these looming, pre-existing mental archetypes. In between, there is the elephant, and thoughts of the god Ganesh, the elephant god. Here is an insight she earns along the way:. But ultimately, her need to take an independent stance leads to a tragic complication with a young male acquaintance named Amitabh, one of her InfoTech students.

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