Tuesday, September 23, 2008

May-dum Characterization Essay

“May-dum” Characterization

In The Red Carpet by Lavanya Sankaran, the author creates this want-to-be youth woman, who is kind, and wealthy; also known as May-dum. Sankaran creates this character in the country of India, where is most known about its traditions and beliefs. This causes the character to come out as a rebel against her country’s culture and the behavior of a wealthy woman.
Sankaran begins the story introducing a character called T.R. Gavirangappa, who becomes known as Raju. Sankaran introduces this character in the story to enable the audience to see the character of May-dum. Unlike May-dum, Raju is a hardworking male, who is responsible to “support his parents, his sister, his wife of four years, and their little daughter” (1). Raju meets May-dum when he applies to be her driver. Raju had a different concept about May-dum. He thought she was going to be the typical middle-aged wealthy woman, who feels no pity for others, with proper manners. But May-dum had a different character. She was wealthy but she was kind to those who work for her and those who needed her help. But she was also a teenage at heart in a middle-aged woman’s body. She wore clothing that characterized her as a “prostitute”, she also “curses, jokes, comments and conversation of a frankness” (5) that Raju was happy he could barely follow the English language. Raju was introduced in the story so the reader can learn about the traditions in India, and see the difference between a hardworking man who follows his culture and a wealthy-middle-aged woman who follows her own rules.
May-dum can be portrayed in two different ways; either as a sympathetic woman or a woman that just cares about fitting-in. May-dum likes to help her servants. They look up to her and felt well-treated by her. Instead of her servants gossiping “to see who had it worst” (5), they all just “traded hard-luck stories” (5). From this perspective, the audience can perceive that May-dum is a great woman and a great boss. Sankaran wanted to include these testimonies from May-dum’s servants so the reader can see another side of May-dum. Deep inside, May-dum cares for others, she cares for the luck of those who helped her get through each day. Another action that contributed to May-dum’s sympathetic personality is when she went to meet Raju’s family and she paid Raju’s daughter education for a whole year (10). Sankaran knows that the reader would have never expected this from May-dum. The purpose of the creation of such character is to expect the unexpected.
Sankaran also created another side personality of May-dum, which she only reveals to the outside world. From the way she dresses to the way she acts, is an informal way of a middle-aged woman to be acting. The audience gets to know this side of her once again from Raju’s thoughts. He describes her behavior as “unacceptable” and “immoral” (6). This personality makes the audience confuse to see how a kind woman can act this way. This “May-dum” demonstrates the universal theme of “fitting-in”. May-dum dresses and acts this certain way to maintain her friends. To prove this, on page 11, May-dum meets her friend after coming back from Raju’s village (where she was actually dressed as someone of her class) and her friend, surprise comments right away about her “elegant dress”. This demonstrates that in front of her friends, May-dum does not like to show formality and elegance. She only wants to fit-in. What Sankaran is trying to prove is that May-dum deep inside shares the culture of her country, she also wants to create that good “first impression” on those who she does not really know. But with her friends, she wants to be this rebel going against the rules and creating her own rules. Sankaran purpose of creating May-dum is for the reader to see that just because people expect you to act a certain way, you have to. May-dum somehow proves this wrong. She does like to create good impressions, but she also likes to live free.
This short story gives back to the reader a wide range of thoughts and doubts. The development of the characters creates the meaning of this story. The characters do not change, but they do make this story meaningful by contributing their personalities and actions. Both Raju and May-dum had something in common, they both needed each other. Both pretended to be a different person to please one another. May-dum changed her informal behavior to a high-class woman, and Raju pretended to not dislike May-dum’s behavior. This was Sankaran’s purpose: to prove how in every day life, people pretend to be someone else to please others, to fit in.

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