Metaphors and Metamorphosis:

The Politics of Sexuality in Ismat Chughtai’s “The Homemaker”




metaphors, metamorphosis, sexual politics, patriarchy


Ismat Chughtai, a prominent feminist writer of twentieth century India, has often been criticized for her iconoclastic stand on the treatment of female sexuality in her stories though she has always used strong metaphors to subtly express such boldness in her heroines. In “The Homemaker,” she presents the characters, Lajo and Mirza, in a relationship that involves a certain pattern of sexual politics. Mirza, driven by Lajo’s sexuality, falls in love with her, and, bugged by his sense of religiosity and patriarchy, attempts to make a “decent” woman out of her. Chughtai’s brilliant narrative establishes here two strong metaphors, lehnga (a long skirt worn by Indian women) and pyjamas (trousers worn by Indian women), to capture two phases of metamorphosis that Lajo goes through from being a maid to becoming a homemaker first, and then from a maid to a wife, followed by a retreat to being a homemaker again. Drawing from Simon de Beauvoir’s theoretical reflections on sexual politics, this paper will show how Lajo’s journey from lehnga to pyjamas, and her retreat from pyjamas to lehnga metaphorically tell the story of her metamorphosis within the sexual politics of her relationship with Mirza.




How to Cite

Das, S. (2021). Metaphors and Metamorphosis:: The Politics of Sexuality in Ismat Chughtai’s “The Homemaker”. Crossings: A Journal of English Studies, 12, 47–58.