"The use of innocence in literature is never innocent." How far do you agree with this statement in the light of "The god of small things" by Arundhati Roy, and "Clear light of day", by Anita Desai?

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The innocent child has been a long-standing literary figure, used throughout the centuries and cultures by authors such as Dickens, keen to explore the subtleties and paradoxes of children. The latter-part of the twentieth century, however, has been especially rich in novels which give innocence a central role within the plot and the writing. In a society increasingly concerned with nurturing and protecting children, recognising their rights and their ability to express their thoughts and feelings, some authors have developed a fascination and a respect for children which is quite new in the world of literature. Whilst "Oliver Twist" may have struck a chord with nineteenth century readers, and resulted in an increase in the concern for the poor children of London, there is little true analysis of the deeper psychology of the child. This, however, cannot be said of the works of two female Indian authors, Arundhati Roy and Anita Desai, who in their respective novels "The god of small things", and "Clear light of day" have explored with depth and novelty the child, and hence the theme of innocence.

It is their use of innocence in their novels, and the impact that this has over their style, as well as over the social, political and psychological aspects of their novels which I intend to study.

The child as a "social thermometer"

It is no coincidence that children were chosen by both Roy and Desai to figure as or amongst the main characters of their novels. Indeed, India is a country which has undergone great social and political turmoil in the last 50 years, and comparing the adult to the child that he or she was inevitably leads to comparing the way the world has changed and evolved in the time it took for...