The short story “The Intrusion” revolves around the consent of a woman. Her parents don’t give importance to her consent before her marriage. Later, her husband also ignores her consent. Consequently, her husband intrudes into her ‘privacy’ and she cannot protect herself from the intrusion into her body. The short story was published in the short story collection The Intrusion and Other Stories.
The short story begins with a trip. The narrator, along with her husband, crosses a fishing village and goes to the top of the steep uphill. At last, they reach their destination, a house on the hilltop.
The newly married couple hardly knows each other. Therefore, the narrator feels uneasy about her partner. Soon, silence predominates in the room between them. Therefore, to break the silence, her husband suddenly starts talking.
He tells her he feels fortunate for coming to the place as their honeymoon destination. He is happy because they have “complete privacy”. On the other hand, she feels fears, nervous at the thought of being alone with a strange man in a strange land.
Because of the tedious journey, the narrator feels tired. Therefore, she relaxes in the chair, and she is lost in her thoughts. Suddenly, he breaks the silence and asks why she is so silent. She tells that she is a little tired.
He comes closer and puts his arm around her firmly, which causes her uncomfortable. However, she pretends to act normal and gets up. She suggests to him they should go out to the veranda since she wants to see the sea.
On the veranda, she also suggests to him they should go down to the sea. But her husband tells her they should go in the morning as it is already dark.
The man approaches her again. He puts his arm around her waist and pulls her inside. Upon seeing the bed, she remembers her own narrow bed at home. She feels homesick.
However, her state of emotion does not bother him. He changes his dress in an exciting manner. On the other hand, the narrator feels low and lonely. She sits quietly for a while, then dashes to the veranda. She wishes to be anywhere in the world except in the strange place.
When he does not find her in the room. He calls her to change her clothes. She follows his words unwillingly. She again opens the door to the veranda. But he forbids her to go out. She reluctantly goes to him. He puts his arms around her tightly.
The sudden and tight grip of his embrace makes her too uncomfortable. She struggles to get rid of his approaching rough chin. He tries to kiss her, but she averts her face and, in the struggle, his glasses fall down.
Her defiance makes him furious, and he demands to know why she is avoiding him. Finally, she breaks the unbearable silence and says that they don’t know each other. He is astonished to hear that.
She wants to express her feelings that she wants to know all about him. But she can’t say a word anymore because his fierce look frightens her and she knows it is futile to express her feelings to him.
Discontent fills his face and he lies still in the bed uttering nothing. After him, she also tries to sleep. At the midnight, she finds herself in a dreamy state. She is lying on the beach; she feels the waves are hitting her hard.
When she comes into consciousness, she realizes that the sound of the sea is real, but it is not the wave, rather her husband is hitting her body.
She makes an attempt by pushing his chest away from her body, but she fails. He has intruded into her private space.
The Intrusion by Shashi Deshpande – Analysis
The theme of Escape
In the story, we observe the narrator tries to keep her distance from her husband from the beginning of the story. She thinks she is not mentally prepared to perform her role as a wife to a man whom she hardly knows. For this reason, she feels a constant uneasiness about her husband.
But in her reality, she can’t escape from him. Therefore, her willingness and reality give rise to a conflict in her mind, a conflict between her reality and her wish. Though she also knows that she can’t avoid him, but she tries to escape in her level of mind.
In psychology, it is called the pleasure principle. It means avoiding the unpleasant emotion or experience and seeking pleasure.
The narrator in the story wants to remain away from the unpleasant state of her husband. Instead, she longs to be with her family, in her bed, and in any part of the world except the strange place.
There is a series of resistance on her part to avoid reality. For instance, during their walk on sand, he puts his arm to help her to walk in the sand.
She feels uncomfortable because of his tightening grip and lack of intimacy in their relationship. So, to loosen his hold, she bends down and picks up sea-shell as an excuse to avoid his hold.
She feels discomfort to be intimate with him with a man whom she has not known a month ago. We can sense the discomfort between them after they enter the room.
She feels so void within them that she thinks about wildly what topic they can start a conversation with. She feels nervous, awkward when she realizes she is left alone with her husband. As a result, she turns her face from the beds.
Despite her state of mind, the narrator’s husband approaches her. She attempts to escape from the unpleasant state and tries to appear normal. She suggests to him they should go to the veranda. Her suggestion is a way to escape from the turmoil.
Moreover, she also longs to go to the sea and sit on the rocks. She expects in the distant future he would swim and both will exchange friendly gestures.
However, this is her imagined future, which she wants to attain, but soon she realizes they are now only a husband and wife, not friends.
As she realizes the prevalent space between them, she again goes out to the veranda despite prohibition. She feels uneasy and wishes to be anywhere. She also wishes to be “an experienced, mature woman” who is unaffected by any situation.
But her insensitive husband is unaware of her feelings. We observe his insensitive nature when he noisily opens his suitcase to change his clothes. He seems excited by his thoughts.
The noise out of his action and her silence and anxiety are contradictory to each other. He does not turn a hair by her state of mind and instead asks her to change her clothes.
From her behavior, we can assume his view of marriage. His view of marriage is limited to only satisfying the physical needs on the husband’s part. The other’s state of mind, emotion, are marginal things to be avoided.
When he realizes his wife is avoiding him after he fails to kiss her, he angrily demands from her the reason. The intense hunger in him dies as she says that they don’t know each other.
It highlights a typical husband-wife relation where the woman is supposed to follow submissively the wishes of the man. He thinks marriage gives the man the license to invade his wife’s privacy. The man thinks that he can come to know his wife through physical intimacy. Her consent has no value in the relationship.
On the other hand, his wife wants to develop the relationship by having a keen interest in her husband. She at first wants to form an intimate friendship through which both could know each other. For her, emotional bonding should come first than any physical bonding.
He makes her feel that as if she has committed a crime. But she justifies herself by mentioning,
She cannot tell him how shy and frightened she is to expose the mysteries of her body and how homesick she feels. If she revolts against their will she will become the black sheep of the family. No one would marry her sisters. For her, her parents would feel disgraced.
Although the erotic images from the book that she read before marriage disturb her mind, yet she is reluctant to engage in physical intimacy. Though he makes her feel guilty yet she feels a sense of relief.
Contrary to her expectation, she receives the opposite reaction from her husband. He can’t comprehend her words because understanding between partners has nothing to do with intimacy. He averts her face with disappointment.
Justification of The Title -The Intrusion
Since the beginning, the narrator’s husband is excited because of his physical hunger and gaining authority over her body as a result of marriage. Therefore, one after another, he approaches her not out of love, as an act of dominance over her body.
When she keeps resisting his advancement, finally, he bursts out. Later, his selfish act of hunger turns into an act of brutality, an act of intrusion. His act of intrusion is no less than rape, domestic rape.
The physical hunger in the husband makes him go against his wife’s will to fulfill his lust. Her husband forces her to cooperate with him in their respective sexual roles. She is reduced to an object of sex. Her feelings, her willingness, have no place in front of her husband’s hunger.
During the act of intrusion, she wants to cry out not for the physical pain, but the intrusion into her privacy. He intrudes not only into her body physically, but he also violates her right to her ‘self’ but also humiliates her dignity.
Thus, the story “The Intrusion” expresses the nasty experience of a helpless married woman. Through the story, Shashi Deshpande voices out the domestic issue of marital rape, which often is suppressed under the feet of patriarchy.
Deshpande, Shashi. “The Intrusion”, The Intrusion and Other Stories. Penguin.