The World We Found Discussion – Repression and Control

Welcome to the readalong and book club discussion of The World We Found by Thrity Umrigar.  Today we are discussing the themes of repression and control, as presented in chapters 1 through 18 (pp. 1-192) of the novel.  If you have insights to share, but they are based on events that occur later in the book, please note that as the beginning of your comment by typing SPOILER so those who haven’t read on will know to skip your comment. 

Control is a constant thread that runs through The World We Found by Thrity Umrigar.  Iqbal exerts a frightening level control over Nishta, to the point where he has denied her use of her given name.  Richard and Diane try to control Armaiti’s movements during her sickness, while Adish tries (and fails) to control Laleh.

  1. Iqbal claims that “men and women cannot be partners” and scolds Nishta for not reading the Koran – he claims that if she had, she would have known that.  Does Iqbal control Nishta because of how he interprets his religion, or is religion an excuse to control Nishta?
  2. Iqbal believes that, by controlling Nishta, he protects her.  He justifies his control of her in his mind by listing what he has sacrificed on her behalf because she is Hindu.  Why doesn’t Iqbal consider what Nishta has sacrificed for him?
  3. Armaiti thinks that Richard and Diane are trying to control her with regards to her illness, watching what she eats and when she sleeps, yet they do this out of love for her.  Is she wrong to be upset, to want to live (and die) on her own terms?  Should she be more understanding?
  4. Nishta discusses how she felt claustrophobic the first time she put on a burkha, yet Iqbal dismissed her concerns.  Why does he care so little for her opinion?  Why does Nishta eventually give in to his demands?
  5. Why didn’t Nishta try harder to get in touch with Laleh and Kavita after Iqbal took away her phone?  Is her submissiveness characteristic of an abused woman?

Please feel free to answer any or all of these questions in your comments, as well as expound on your thoughts about control.  If you’re new to this readalong and would like more information or to see the rest of the discussion posts, please visit my landing page for The World We Found discussion.  Please be sure to check back on Tuesday, when we’ll be discussing the relationship between money and power in the entire book.

Comments

  1. I have a hard time writing about Iqbal’s control over Nishta without getting upset, so I’m just going to answer the questions about Armaiti.

    Is she wrong to be upset? Short answer: no.
    I don’t really think that people’s emotions are “wrong.” She’s upset. She’s allowed to be upset. She’s facing her death, and that’s not easy. She’s trying to maintain control over her own life, and she doesn’t want others controlling her.

    While Richard and Diane may be acting out of love, part of love is listening and respecting the person that you love. They seem to be stuck in their own grief and doing what they want, and not what Armaiti truly feels is best for her.

    Now, that’s not to say that she shouldn’t be understanding. Armaiti, Richard, and Diane seem to love each other very much, but communication is not their strength. Everyone’s emotions are running high, and if they could all sit down and have an honest conversation perhaps the process could be easier for everyone. Of course, that’s easier said than done!

  2. I have a hard time writing about Iqbal’s control over Nishta without getting upset, so I’m just going to answer the questions about Armaiti.

    Is she wrong to be upset? Short answer: no.
    I don’t really think that people’s emotions are “wrong.” She’s upset. She’s allowed to be upset. She’s facing her death, and that’s not easy. She’s trying to maintain control over her own life, and she doesn’t want others controlling her.

    While Richard and Diane may be acting out of love, part of love is listening and respecting the person that you love. They seem to be stuck in their own grief and doing what they want, and not what Armaiti truly feels is best for her.

    Now, that’s not to say that she shouldn’t be understanding. Armaiti, Richard, and Diane seem to love each other very much, but communication is not their strength. Everyone’s emotions are running high, and if they could all sit down and have an honest conversation perhaps the process could be easier for everyone. Of course, that’s easier said than done!

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