Space within the Space:
The Subject-Other Dichotomy in Manto’s “Ten Rupees”
Keywords:space, subject, Other, gynocentric, phallocentric
In Manto’s stories about prostitutes, set in Mumbai (then Bombay), the city is presented with a kaleidoscopic projection of space. In the story, “Ten Rupees,” the volumetric space of the city, conventionally dominated by the male characters – Kishori, Kifayat, Anwar, and Shahab, is overshadowed by the abstract space created in it by the female protagonist – Sarita. Sarita, a fifteen-year-old prostitute, is presented in the story as an Object (the Other in the Subject-Other dichotomy) of men’s desire. However, she switches to the Subject position in her interactions with her customers Kifayat, Anwar, and Shahab in a car ride, and, as a matter of fact, she creates a gynocentric space of her own in the phallocentric space inside the car. In a theoretical framework drawn from both Simone de Beauvoir’s notion of the Subject-Other dichotomy, and from the prominent ideas of space in the twentieth century architectural discourses, this paper, with a qualitative method, shows how Manto portrays the character of Sarita as the Subject rather than an Object within the spaces she inhabits.
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