Plot Construction of the Novel Heat and Dust

‘Heat and Dust’ is the history of Olivia and Douglas: 

After reading the story of the novel ‘Heat and Dust’ we find that certainly it is the history of the life and character of Olivia and her husband Douglas. With this reason the beginning of the novel takes place like a book of history. As a historian is very eager to show the mysteries of the past, so the Narrator is also very curious to know about Olivia, her grandmother Tessie and her grandaunt Beth who had decided not to speak out anything about Olivia. They wished that the future would make it clear. “They shied away from her memory as from something dark and terrible.”

Plot Construction of the Novel Heat and Dust


But the Narrator finds that her parents did not share these feelings. They wanted to know about the first wife of her grandfather, yet they did nothing, however the third generation that the Narrator became curious to know about Olivia. The Narrator also went to India because Olivia had lived there for a long time with her husband Douglas. She also collected some information from the letters which Harry had given to two old woman related to Olivia and her husband, Douglas. Those letters had been written by Olivia to her sister, Marcia. The Narrator could get some more information about Olivia who had lived in India and at some other places. 

The Present Novel is like the Reformer's Diary: 

It is necessary to mention that the novelist had her plan to draw the attention of the people to the prevailing social evils which were found in the contemporary society and her purpose was to make the society free from those evils. To carry out her main purpose, she created the character of the Narrator who was like herself. She had come to India from Europe with a clear view of modern healthy society. She came to Bombay, went to Satipur and Khatam as well as to the town in the mountains. She talked with the local people even of the lowest class of society to know about the real life of the people. She had decided to write all those details in her diary which she had seen very closely.

The novelist became well - aware with all the necessary information. The novelist also sent the Narrator to the window from which she could see the scene in the street clearly with his own eyes. The people were buying from the hawkers and they were eating and some others were looking into the gutters to find what had been thrown away. It showed the true picture of the poverty of the people.

Her Observations about Indarlal and Others: 

The Narrator came to Satipur where she had got the chance to look into the life of Indarlal who belonged to a higher class. She also met the wife and mother of Indarlal and both of them were uneducated and they lived a dull life. She also went to the road - side tailor to get an Indian dress prepared for herself by him. The tailor took the measurements on the road with great care that he should not touch her body. As a result, the tailor prepared a loose dress. She made these observations and experiences at different places and on different dates but it showed the unity of plot. She noted all those details in her diary. 

Contrast between Olivia and the Narrator: 

After reading seriously the story of the novel, ‘Heat and Dust’ we find a clear - cut contrast between the life and character of Olivia and the Narrator. The narrator depicted the true picture of the contemporary social life which had existed in 1923. It was to show a comparative picture of the life in India in two different times related to her grandparents and her own time. Her grandfather, Douglas was the Assistant Collector and he was too busy to spare time even for his wife Olivia who had become much worried due to her husband's neglect and her loneliness. Their such contrast in the life and character of Olivia and the narrator clearly shows the difference in the points of view of the two generations. Olivia had come to India without any mission but the narrator had a mission when she was staying in India. The narrator had the mission in India to know about the life of Olivia the wife of Douglas. Secondly, she had also seen and noted the evils of the society of India. She had also her mission to change and improve the social conditions. If Olivia had her such mission like that of the Narrator, she would not have felt lonely and isolated when her husband had been paying his greatest attention towards public matters. 

Olivia had a strong desire to become a mother. First of all she wanted a child from her husband but she became much worried when she could not become pregnant. She wanted to consult the doctor to know why she had failed to conceive but her husband did not show any interest in getting a child. Ultimately Olivia turned to the Nawab, increased her relationship, made her sexual contact with him and at last she conceived. Later she thought to abort the baby because she feared that the colour of her baby would be like that of the Nawab and it would make clear her illegal relations with the Nawab. This is the reason that she asked Harry to help her in terminating her pregnancy. On the other hand, the narrator was a bold, young girl. She had modern attitude, so she did not care for any such things when she had been conceived by Indarlal after her sexual relationship with him freely and boldly. 

Olivia had Prudery against the Permissiveness of the Narrator: 

If Olivia had her prudery, the narrator did not have any permissiveness because she was a bold young lady with her modern attitude and progressive ideas. With this reason she made her relations with Child and Indarlal without any fear and worry. The narrator had gone to the shrine of Baba Firdaus along with Indarlal to spend nice time there. She found that place very romantic and she also found Indarlal young and healthy. With this reason she tried to make the best use of that opportunity to enjoy in the pleasant and sexual manner saying. “And yet at the same time he was a healthy young man his wife was away we were alone in a romantic spot (getting more romantic every moment as the Sun began to set). Although the next few moves were upto me, once, I had made them he was not slow to respond. Afterwards he made the same joke the Nawab had made about what had happened here on the original Husband's Wedding Day to make the barren wife pregnant.” 

Both the situations belonged to two different ages and generations. The narrator who was the young modern woman with progressive ideas had no reserve in having a child from an Indian like Indarlal who was not her husband. Secondly she never thought of aborting her baby. She had gone to the town of to pass happy time upto her delivery. On the other hand, Olivia suffered from fear and worry when she had been conceived after has sexual contact with the Nawab. She did not like that her baby should have the colour and hair like those of the Nawab so she terminated her pregnancy. 

The Sub - plot related to Karim and Kitty: 

The close study of the novel shows that there is a sub - plot related to the activities of Karim and Kitty. As the Nawab had no issue, so he had made his nephew, Karim as his heir of his property. Kitty was the wife of Karim and she also belonged to some royal family. Karim was “very slender with delicate features and curly hair.” In this way, he was different in his body and he his hair showing the difference between two generations. The Nawab's generation showed rough and tough life but Karim and Kitty were lean and they were related to the comforts of modern life. 

When the Narrator went to their room, she found that the floor was covered with cushions. There “Kitty was curled up on a red and gold sofa which had once been a swing and was fixed to the ceiling by long golden chains.” The modern generation liked good living but the people of the old generations liked to possess land. 

Karim and Kitty had given up the precious things of the palace at Khatam because they thought about their ruin if they had continued to stay there. They had also decided to start their business of ready - made clothes in London. It is necessary to mention that the modern people of India were migrating to other countries in search of their good fortune and better living. Both of them did not like to mention anything about ancestors. Karim - used to call his uncle, the Nawab as a naughty boy in his young age. He also spoke against his other ancestors. 

The Hopes for the Bright Future: 

The novelist drew a clear picture about the evils of society of India through the mouth of the Narrator who was her spokesman. At the same time she was optimist about the bright future of the people of India after necessary changes and a large number of improvements. She tried to impress her readers to their bright future and better condition. For example, the Narrator at last came to live in the mountains because there the life was totally different. As the mouthpiece of the novelist, the Narrator added “I keep looking up all the time, but everything remains hidden. Unable to see, I imagine mountain peaks higher than any I've over dreamed if, the show on them is also whiter than all other show so white it is luminous and shines against a sky which is of a deeper blue than any yet know to me. That is what I expect to see.” The Narrator was waiting for her child to come out of her womb and she hoped a better life for the new generation in spite of the dismal picture of society. She hoped a bright future for all.