Alienation is one of the greatest problems confronting modern man. The 20th century Especially the postwar period has been called the ‘Age of Alienation’. Edmund Fuller remarks that in our age man suffers not only from war persecution , famine and ruin, but from inner problem a conviction on isolation , randomness , meaninglessness in his way of existence. There are several layers and kinds of alienation that is powerlessness, meaninglessness , formlessness and isolation which are nothing but different manifestation of alienation. In today’s society, alienation means historical discontinuity, loss despair, with rejection not only at the past but also the present. And it is their human problem that has occupied Anita Desai’s primary interest.

She has presented the dilemma of the modern man effectively. Anita Desai is today, the most well known among Indian women novelist in English. She completed her education at University of Delhi. At present, she is the member of the Faculty of Mount Halyoke College Massachusetts, U.S.A. Thrice she was short listed for Booker Prize and also won the Sahitya Academy Award. Her early novels concentrate on the feminine sensibility at war with the hostility and callousness of a male centered universe and her later novels deal with existence of modern man who is trapped in island of loneliness and society she lays on the exploration of human mind.

Aims and Objectives:

This research is an attempt to study the theme of Alienation in Anita Desai’s novels, Cry the Peacock , Voices in the City and Fire on the Mountain. I have chosen this topic because this is one of the major problems of modern man which gets reflected though the novels of Anita Desai. Man fails to perceive today the very purpose behind life and the relevance of his existence in a hostile world. The impact of modernization and industrialization changing the values of life. Today man becomes too ambitious – all this has made an increasing and often disturbing demands on the individual consequently resulting in their rootlessness. There are some causes behind the loneliness of the modern man. And this problem is brilliantly exposed through the novels of Anita Desai. In this dissertation I would like to discuss the alienated characters of Anita Desai’s novel, their domestic life, social status and the reasons behind this alienation. I would also like to study how she presents this issue through her novels. Does she come out with some kind of solution etc.

Main Body of Research

Loneliness of the individual is persistent theme in Anita Desai’s novels. The sensitive human beings suffers from sense of alienation which could reach the intensity of an existential malaise. Reasons that provoke dislocation in the individual self could be the oppressive or hostile nature of the society, the emotional distancing of a partner in marital alliance or the state of exile as immigrant. It can lead to frustration, longing for escape or even suicide.

1. Cry, the Peacock:

In this novel, we have in Maya self examination and exploration of the alienated human psyche. Here is the study of young , sensitive girl obsessed by a childhood prophecy of disaster , whose extreme sensitivity is rendered in terms of immeasurable human loneliness.

2. Voices in the City:

This novel brilliant exposition of the alienation suffered by certain dislocated individuals trapped in the claustrophobic life of the metropolis. Nirode, Monish and Amla re-enact the emotional trauma of the sensitive souls caught in the lonely islands of their selves.

3. Fire on the Mountain:

This novel explores the alienation of Nanda Kaul and her great grand daughter Raka. Nanda Kaul the central character caught in the web of loneliness belong to the category of oppressed woman has chosen as her residence the isolated house on the ridge of a mountain at Carignano in Kasauli.

Research Method:

I will do this research with the help of secondary sources e.g. journals, reference books etc. and with the help of deep study of the novels which I have chosen for this dissertation.

Scope and Limitation of the Study

This dissertation deals with only the theme of alienation in Anita Desai’s novels, Cry the Peacock, Voices in the City , Fire on the Mountain. It will not deal in other themes like marital disharmony, Indian culture , facets of feminism etc.


A prominent theme running through the novels of the Anita Desai is the loneliness of human being stranded in this isolated island of human destiny. The burden of existence hangs heavy on most of the characters. The reasons behind choosing these topics is that it is related to the contemporary , twentieth century lifestyle. Today man is facing the problem of alienation , rootlessness and emptiness of life. The novels which have been chosen deals with the theme of alienation It also deals with her domestic life which represents Indian middle class families. The characters in this novels are everyday characters which represent modern man who is trapped in island of loneliness. This will be the sphere of work in this dissertation.