(Re)tracing Resistance from a Culture of Silence: An Alternate Reading of the ‘Jele’ (fishing) Community
Khandakar Ashraful Islam
Abstract: Bengal—a land of rivers and natural resources—has been the abode of the “jele” community (fishermen) for centuries. But hardly have we come across the life of the fishermen in Bengali literature before Manik Bandopadhyay and Adwaita Mallabarman. In fact, these two noteworthy novelists, in their novels, The Boatman of the Padma and A River Called Titash, poignantly depict the poverty, hunger, suffering, and exploitation of the fishermen. However, both novelists portray this community as passive victims of all socio-economic exploitations and nowhere in their narratives is there any trace of resistance from the side of the afflicted. Therefore, in this paper, focusing on Harishankar Jaladas’s Sons of the Sea I will re-read the novels of Bandhopadhyay and Mallabarman in search of the forces that dissuaded this community from fighting back. Moreover, shedding light on the life of this subaltern group, in Sons of the Sea, I will attempt to trace the root of resistance so that breaking the age old culture of silence may create a new future for them.
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Published in 2016