Post-Colonial Ethnicity. A Critical Study of "The Crow Eaters" by Bapsi Sidhwa

Term Paper, 2018

18 Pages, Grade: 1.5



Significance of the study
Statement of the problem
Objective of the study
Delimitation of Research

Literature Review

Research Methodology
Research Questions




The study aims to explore the issue of ethnicity, especially in Post-colonial era. It deals with ethnicity as a subject and Post-colonial ethnic behavior because in Post-colonial age the issue of ethnicity has its own significance. Moreover, it deals with problems of Parse community which they faced in sub-continent especially in Lahore, Pakistan. It also highlights the issue of racism presenting the picture of pre-partition of sub-continent. The data of present research is a novel by Basic Siddha “The Crow Eaters”... Its analysis has been done with the help of qualitative method. Moreover, analysis is supported with the theory of Post-colonialism. Henceforth, the study explores the post-colonial ethnicity that, how Parsee community had to face ethnic attitude of natives of and also the British rulers. Hence, the present research highlights the theme of ethnicity on the basis of minority, culture, religion and stereotypes.

Keywords: Post-colonialism, ethnicity, identity and race


Until mid- nineteenth century the very word ethnicity was used in English literature for those people who were not followers of the Christian religious rules like Oikumenes Christian and the word ethnicity was used for pagan and heathen. After the Nazism this term ethnicity changed into cultural and religious violence as Crew (1994) says that Nazi an active member of Hitler state, killed many Jewish people on the basis of religion and Nazi belonged to Christian religion and he was against Jewish people even they belonged to the same white race, so, after the world war 2nd the meaning of ethnicity changed as a group of people who belonged to same religion, tradition, political issues, social and national issues. Ethnicity also means attitude of majority of the people towards the minority of the people in a same area, country or city. Kunoich and Hodson (2002) quote that the purpose of modernization is to control the effect of ethnicity in societies, but modernization increases the effect of ethnicity in societies. The conflict of ethnicity is increased with the developing societies because people of different races and traditions develop their thoughts of separation and these thoughts lead them towards the violence on the basis of ethnicity. Varshney (2003) says that not only the traditions of religion, economy and society are the basis of ethnicity but also behavior of the dominant culture effects upon the rights of subordinate culture. When a dominant culture captures the rights of subordinate culture then that attitude becomes the basis of violence between both cultures.

Post-colonialism in the English literature has played vital role and postcolonial studies is the area that depicts the people who were colonialized by the other nations. Most countries like Asia and Africa were colonialized by the United Kingdom. In the post colonial literature writers raise their voices against illegal colonies of British. In this age writers have lot of scope for writing and through literature they raise the problems of natives and also protest against the cruel attitude of British people. Helen (1989) quote that post colonial age describes all the effects on the culture of the colonial process by British at past, present and future. Post colonial age has more significance than the colonial age because through post colonial literature it highlights issues not only at the time of colonies but also after the end of the colonial period. After the end of colonial period, native people faced many domestic problems as people belonged to different religions, cultures, nations, societies and political groups.

Mishra and Hodge (2005) quote that post colonial literature did not start after the end of colonies which were colonized made by the British but it started after the certain movement of imperialism and also after colonial occupation of British peoples. It not only describes the affects of colonialization but also something new like the issues between natives which cause violence.

Post colonial ethnicity is the ethnic attitude of post colonial writers as minorities in the countries which are once colonialized by the other nations. They describe how people who are small in numbers face problems in their religious, political and economical matters. Basic problem after the end of imperialism was that different religious groups of the native people acquired different values as in India. Bapsi Sidhwa is one of the best woman novelists and short story writers and her writing shows her post colonial ethnic attitude. She highlights the problems which were faced by her parse community in the subcontinent. Parses lived in very small numbers in subcontinent. She was born in Karachi and brought up in Lahore. She was nine years old at the time of partition and eye witness of bloodshed at the time of partition. Sidhwa’s writings represent her parse community. All her novels and short stories are examples of her ethnic attitude.Her novel “The Bride” (1983) which is the story of a bride from the tribal area depicts the place where no Parses live but she introduces parse nurse character which shows her affection with her parse religion. And another novel “the Cracking India” (1992) is also a master piece of her post colonial ethnic attitude. In this novel she introduced a fictional and autobiographical character a nine year old child Nanny. Through this novel she narrates problems of parse community and also ethnic attitude of both side’s Indian and Pakistani people and that ethnic attitude create violence and more than seven million people are killed at the time of partition.

Bapsi Sidhwa’s novel “The Crow Eaters” (2015) is the good example of post colonial ethnicity. She describes problems of her community in the sub-continent especially in Pakistan. Title of this novel also shows her ethnic attitude because the phrase crow eaters show her religious point of view as she belongs to Zoroastrian or parse religion. Her community is famous for donating their dead bodies for eating to the birds. In this novel she narrates the story of five parse families through fictional characters. In this novel she describes the problems which they faced due to the the people of other religions as she writes in this novel that “parse, Parse crow eaters” (The Crow Eaters,1978) a child cried these words upon Freddy Jounglewala’s family when they were going to receive their parse relative.

Significance of the study

Post-colonial ethnicity has very significant role in the English literature and Sidhwa’s novel “The Crow Eaters” (015) is the work of Pakistani writer. The research work hopes to generate the present scenario with reference the ethnic issues and Sidhwa's exposition of it to the public. The study will help the readers to better understand the ethnic issue in the Post-colonial Pakistan.

Statement of the problem

Ethnicity is most influential an integral part of the English literature. There is little work done on post-colonial ethnicity especially on the work Basic Sidhwa’s novel “The Crow Eaters” (2015). Post-colonial work of Pakistani novelist highlights the ethnicity of her community.

Objective of the study

The purpose of the study is to find post colonial ethnicity and for this purpose, the present researcher has selected “The Crow Eaters” (2015) which is written by Basic Sidhwa’s and through this novel the study intends to explore the issues of ethnicity and race.

Delimitation of Research

Siddha represents her community through the racial expressions and their impacts on local representational identity (ies) of her Parsee community. The present research consists only on six chapter’s text of the novel “The Crow Eaters” and suitable citations.

Literature Review

Khan (1995) argues that by post-colonialism is not meant the era after colonialism or post independence, rather, post-colonialism starts from first movement against colonialism. Post-colonial writings hold a long history but post colonial writings in theoretical interest started with the start of post-modern movement in English literature, this phenomenon led to post-colonial and post-modern overlapping and confusion. This confusion was caused by the construction of the centralized European culture, very similar to post-colonial culture. In post-colonial theory, writers describe the issues of the natives against the orientalists and also highlight the issues among the natives on the basis of ethnicity.

It is argued that colonialism describes three important characteristics: cultural imposition, domination and exploitation rather than institutional variation of imperialism. Colonialism holds very important role in English literature and much work describes ethics and political theory which focuses on its effects of exploitative characters on present day. Colonial writers take it from different perspective within the tradition and describe the effects of imperialism upon the natives. With the study of colonialism, writers highlight the issues between the colonized and colonial people, within the context of Africa, India or anywhere in the world (Butt, 2013).

Ethnicity is an attitude of one group of people toward other group of people on the basis of different cultural values or religious values, when one group has a dominating position and other in subordinate position. Racism is an attitude of one dominant culture upon the subordinate culture on the basis of people, color, social or economical power or on the basis of religious norm and values “With the concept of ethnicity we bring together two of the most vexed and complex issues in post colonial theory. The way each intersects with notions of race, space imperialism and identity, leads to a constantly shifting theoretical ground, a ground continually contested and subject to more hatred debate than most” (Tiffin, et. al. (2003)

Ethnic identity includes a sense of belonging to a group connected to a heritage, values, traditions and often languages (Phinney and Ong, 2007).

Racial identity could be explained and relate to response of racism and prejudice (Helms, 2007).

Post-colonial theory is the theoretical and interpretive mode which examines the appearance of Post-colonial ethnicity and race through the dominant cultural way of expressions. There are many writers who depict Post-colonial theory in their work but Tiffin et al 2003 is a prominent writer of Post-colonialism. He describes in his book 'Concept of Post-colonialism' a detail on all aspects of Post-colonialism but present research consists only on Post-colonial ethnic and racial aspect. Tiffin, et. al. (2003) further describes that Post-colonial period does not mean a period after the end of colonies or post- independence. It starts from the first movement against colonialism. Ethnicity and race are two prominent features of the Post-colonialism and both have close relation with each other.

Ethnicity is an attitude of one group of people toward other group of people on the basis of different cultural values or religious values. When one group has a dominating position and other in subordinate position then racism is an attitude of one dominant culture upon the subordinate culture on the basis of people is color, social or economical power or on the basis of religious norms and values as in world war II Hitler a German ruler tried to eliminate Jews on the basis of religious values. Even though they belonged to the same white race Ethnicity is a prominent theme in Post-colonial literature. Ethnicity has long history and it is as old like English literature. It is an attitude of different communities; different groups of people but Post-colonial writers pay it more attention. Post-colonial writers describe that ethnicity is not only an attitude of one race, cultures and societies. Ethnicity is also found between same race, community, culture, religion and society as after is the end of the colonial period. People of same race have ethnic attitude on the basis of different religious and cultural values. So, their attitude of hatred leads them toward violence.

Khan, et. al. (2015) describes that Sidhwa, narrates through her fictional characters, in her novel 'The Crow Eaters (2015)' in a comic way. Comedy on sad events of life becomes dark or black; the comedies in death, suicide, diseases, murder, drugs abuse, rape, fear, depression, racism, corruption, sexism and crime are major dark sides of the life. Furthermore in her novel, Sidhwa uses the technique of black comedy and narrates corrupt acts of characters in a comic way, although, Jarbanoo is on strike of hunger but she steals biscuits and chocolates to survive, yet, this act of corruption causes the readers to laugh.

Alvi (2012) says that Sidhwa is the most successful Pakistani female writer of the English literature. She is famous for her fiction, for instance, real life, sharp wit, reliable observation and nice humor.

Bashkar (2015) says that Sidhwa, through her work, represents her country Pakistan and her Parse community and this aspect makes her remarkable. She depicts events from her own life, common people and these characters people her pages.

Hashmi (1996) says that Sidhwa’s first published but second written novel “The Crow Eaters” aims at a story, satirical and succinct of Youngman Faredoon Jungelwala, a central character of the novel whose social stardom and struggle for the fortune, we follow more than three hundred pages which narrate in a comic way.

Paranjape (1996) quotes that “The Crow Eaters” a Novel about a Parsee community. All major characters, the protagonist and main ceremony of the novel is also about the Parse religion.

Dhawan (1996) says that plot of the novel “The Crow Eaters” presents the picture of post independence where the migration of the Parses is shown. This novel describes the partition of the sub-continent with autobiographical touches. Fredy and Putly two main characters of the novel are autobiographical characters as reflect Sidhwa’s parents. This novel does not have only the historical fiction, but it has autobiographical elements.

Sing (2012) says that women in the society have subordinate role and always considered inferior to men. If women accept this without raising their voice and do not stand against stereotype then they cannot realize their status in the society. Many writers portrayed role of women in English literature but Sidhwa is a keen observer.


Excerpt out of 18 pages


Post-Colonial Ethnicity. A Critical Study of "The Crow Eaters" by Bapsi Sidhwa
National University of Modern Languages, Islamabad  (Institute of English Studies)
English Literature
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
532 KB
Post-Colonial Studies, Ethnicity
Quote paper
Zafar Iqbal (Author)Sundus Javaid (Author), 2018, Post-Colonial Ethnicity. A Critical Study of "The Crow Eaters" by Bapsi Sidhwa, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


  • No comments yet.
Read the ebook
Title: Post-Colonial Ethnicity. A Critical Study of "The Crow Eaters" by Bapsi Sidhwa

Upload papers

Your term paper / thesis:

- Publication as eBook and book
- High royalties for the sales
- Completely free - with ISBN
- It only takes five minutes
- Every paper finds readers

Publish now - it's free