Analysis Of Inheritance By Balli Kaur Jaswal

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Set in the early period of Singapore’s independence, Inheritance by Balli Kaur Jaswal explores the struggles of a Punjabi family living in Singapore. Over the span of 20 odd years, the family members grow and change, shifting from old identities into new ones. In Inheritance, different spaces set certain expectations for the individuals within them. Such spaces refer to the public spheres of the Punjabi community, the Singapore society and government, the home, and America. Expectations in such spaces are set by social and cultural values and norms. With these expectations, political, social and cultural restrictions are imposed on the characters in the novel, particularly Narain and- to a lesser extend- his father Harbeer. When the characters experience shifting identities, they fail to meet expectations set by different spaces and are criticised and condemned, leaving them as displaced citizens in the society they live in. As such, the novel reflects the lack of safe spaces for minority groups in Singapore, voicing a greater need for such spaces.
In the novel, the Punjabi society- a public sphere in which Narain and Harbeer live in- projects certain social and cultural values and norms. For one, Sikh people do not cut their hair because it is an act of desecration to them. Narain, who “could not utter [his secrets]” while having his “turban and beard reflecting the Sikh values” he was compelled to uphold, decided to cut his hair (101). His decision to get a haircut is
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