Balwinder Kaur/Psycho-Analysis of Ramchand in The Sari Shop

Balwinder Kaur

Research Scholar

Lovely Professional University

Phagwara, Punjab

Psycho-Analysis of Ramchand in The Sari Shop

Rupa Bajwa, India’s new literary find, is an Indian writer who belongs to Amritsar in Punjab. In her first novel, “The Sari Shop” she depicts the picture of class dynamics of India after independence and also presents the corrupting influence of wealth. The main objective of this paper is to analyze the empty and monotonous existence of lower middle class people and their unfulfilled desires. Corruption influences the wish fulfillment and struggle for life. A common man is not only exploited by the upper class but also by the people of his own class. Law exists for the rich while the poor accept injustice. Thus with the help of protagonist real problems of life are represented.

‘The Sari Shop’ provides a compact psychological study of the protagonist Ramchand. The word psychology literally means ”study of soul”. Thus psychology is an academic and applied discipline that involves the scientific study of mental functions and behaviors. Psychology has the goal of understanding individuals. The field deals with the concepts of perception, cognition, emotion, motivation, brain functioning and behavior. In the novel, Ramchand is the man of sufferings. The desire of common man remains unfulfilled. He is exploited by the upper class as well as by his own people. He only used to live in the world of imagination. But the reality of life is beyond his imagination.

In any literary work whether it is fiction or other the whole story moves around the characters as they represent the real picture of life. These are the characters with the help of whom we can represent the theme of the novel to the common people. Thus through a particular character of the novel, we can represent   desires as well as difficulties of common people that they face in their lives. It also helps to depict the social structure of the society. It explores the unfulfilled desires of Ramchand, the protagonist in the novel and his exploitation. The topic deals with the corrupting influences, the wish fulfillment and struggle for life. Emotions of common people and their helplessness. Here in the topic the difficulties of common man are represented. Through the character of protagonist, we try to understand the empty ,monotonous existence of a lower middle class person. A common man is not only exploited by the upper class but also by his own people of same class. Law exists for the rich while the poor accept injustice.

Modern psychology has had an immense effect on both literature and literary criticism. Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic theories changed our notions of human behavior by exploring new or controversial areas like wish-fulfillment, the unconscious, and repression. In Sigmund Freud’s topographical model of personality, the ego is the aspect of personality that deals with

reality. While doing this, the ego also has to cope with the conflicting demands of the identity and the superego. The identity seeks to fulfill all wants, needs, and impulses while the superego tries to get the ego to act in an idealistic and moral manner. What happens when the ego cannot deal with the demands of our desires, the constraints of reality, and our own moral standards? According to Freud, anxiety is an unpleasant inner state that people seek to avoid. Anxiety acts as a signal to the ego that things are not going right. Freud identified three types of anxiety:

Neurotic anxiety is the unconscious worry that we will lose control of the identity’s urges, resulting in punishment for inappropriate behavior.

Reality anxiety is fear of real-world events. The cause of this anxiety is usually easily identified. For example, a person might fear receiving a dog bite when they are near a menacing dog. The most common way of reducing this anxiety is to avoid the threatening object.

Moral anxiety involves a fear of violating our own moral principles.

In this topic Ramchand has a wish to learn English grammar. Thus for the fulfillment of his desire, he buys a second hand grammar book, an Oxford Dictionary, a fresh pair of socks and a bar of lifebuoy soap. These four things will gave him the kind of life he has wanted since childhood. But soon these efforts turn his life upside down, bringing him face to face with the cruelties on which his very existence depends. Ramchand was not born poor. He was born in the family of shop owners. But his bad luck started with the death of his parents. His parents died in an accident. He was forced to work in a sari shop by his uncle. His inheritance was also grabbed by his own uncle.

“Years later Ramchand had realized many things. He realized that his had once had a

shop. Avery small one ……by rights that shop should have been Ramchand’s. Instead it now

belongs to uncle’s son……Ramchand just couldn’t be bothered to fight for what was his

anymore.” (47)

The changes took place when he visited the house of a wealthy family. The family hires the shop to provide saris for their daughter’s (Rina Kapoor) upcoming wedding. His (Ramchand) glimpse into a different world gives him an urgent sense of possibility. He begins to see himself, his life and his future more clearly. He attempts to recapture the hope that his childhood had promised him.

There is a big gap between the life he has spend and the life his father had hoped for him. Ramchand’s father was aware of the importance of education. So that’s why his father wanted him to be admitted in an English medium school. His father hoped for a better life for Ramchand. So that he can lead a prosperous life of an educated person. But soon the things went wrong. His parents died in an accident and he had to spend the life of an orphan boy. He was withdraw from school. He was forced to work in a sari shop when he was about 15 years old. Till the age of 26, Ramchand was working in the same place as an assistant. He was not an educated person rather he was an illiterate person. Thus his life was totally different than his father had hoped for him.

In the story we see that even Kamla, wife of Chander who works along with Ramchand in the same sari shop, did not escape from the corrupting influence of wealth. She is exploited by the rich as well as Ramchand. Thus both of them belong to the same category.   She is raped, beaten and then burnt down in front of her slum. After the death of Kamla, Ramchand had spent the next twelve days locked up in his room. These twelve days without any rage, reservations, contentment, doubt, objective and grief, feeling completely void. But at the day of thirteen he proceeds to his senses, the very actuality of life. “What had he done? People died to get a good job all their lives………….he had thrown a perfectly good job away. How could he survive now”? (237)

Then he decided to go back to Mahajan and sought for forgiveness to him. By the character of Ramchand we come to know that how a common man is not exploited by the rich only but also by his own people like in the case of Ramchand, his inheritance was grabbed by his own uncle. He is also oppressed by Mahajan. “Coming late? You think I don’t notice? Am I blind? Are you a king or something? Raja Ramchand? Should we send an entourage and a bagghi to pick you every day?”(6,7). Every moment he has to listen to the harsh words of Mahajan. Therefore he has to lead the life of a disaffected man. Thus the story exposes the corrupting influence of wealth and bad effects of poverty that continuous in parts of India today.

Fraud says that playwright has such profound insight into human nature that his characters display the depth and complexity of real people. He and his disciples Ernest Janes, Carl Jung belief that great literature truthfully reflects life. Here Ramchand is the protagonist in the novel and Kamla is supporting character in the sari shop. They are real characters taken from the real life of Indian people who suffers a lot in their lives. Ramchand is a man whose desires remained unfulfilled. He lost his inheritance by his own uncle and was forced to lead the life of an uneducated , frustrated worker in a sari shop who can only imaginate a better life but can not have it.

There is a big gap between expectations and reality. A common man can only expect the things to be happened. But in reality they may or may not be. A common man has to struggle for wish fulfillment. Most of his desires remain unfulfilled due to many reasons. Desires are highly affected by the social structure of economy. An economically weak person can neither get education to promote himself nor can get reputation in the society. He can only expect to have a such kind of life but in real can not have.




Bajwa, Rupa. The Sari Shop. New Delhi: Penguin, 2004.Print.

Devi Shamita “ Analysis of Rupa Bajwa’s The Sari Shop “ The Criterion An International Journal in English. VOL.4.2(April 2013) : 1-4. web. 1-Nov-2014.

Freud, S. The Unconscious. London: Penguin, 2005.Print.

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