Themes In Sea Of Poppies

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The title, Sea of Poppies has two key words – ‘sea’ and ‘poppies’. It is basically the two issues of indentured labor and forced opium cultivation and its trade that are reflected by these two words. The setting is 19th century India and Ghosh goes on to show how these two issues are interrelated. Ghosh explores how the British forced the peasantry to take up opium cultivation, their ensuing impoverishment and their reluctant acceptance of their subsequent lives as indentured laborers or girmitiyas.
This point of time was also marked by the abolishment of slavery in America. Corresponding fallout to this development was an acute vacuum in the labor market. The British who were in dire need of labors for their plantations in various thinly populated
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She is married to an opium addict, who works in an opium factory. She is drugged with opium and raped by her husband’s younger brother with the sanction of her mother-in-law as her husband is not fit to sire a child. Deeti in order to find out the truth herself administers little doses of opium to her mother-in-law who finally spills the beans. The unbounded power of the drug gets reflected in Deeti’s observation, " ...if a little bit of this gum could give her power over the life, character and the very soul of this woman , then with more of it at her disposal, why should she not be able to seize kingdoms and control multitudes?" (Ghosh, Sea of Poppies…show more content…
Ghosh’s depiction of the opium factory as a grand structure with a fort like impermeability reflects how far the colonial power dynamics revolved round opium trade. Ghosh modeled his description of the factory from an account of a Scottish head of one such factory who curiously fashioned his version to serve as a tourist guide. The grandness of the colonial structures was intended for power projection and the factory was definitely put for such purpose. The awe inspiring building had many levels like concentric circles, the innermost circle preserving the end product in specially designed vaults. The colonial structure is further elaborated with the shadowy presence of waif thin, dark laborers going about their work in a mechanical fashion while the portly white superintendents go on to lord over them. The ominous and deadly nature of the business is so despicable and hugely immoral and a reminder of the absolute nadir the British hit with their exploitative
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