Discuss how and to what effect Desai uses humour to describe the inhabitants of Shahkot in the opening chapters of the novel.

THESIS STATEMENT: desai uses humour as a tool to mock the inhabitants of Shahkot. Shahkot is a stereotypical small town in India. She is ridiculing the narrow-minded mentality of the people.

Mr Chawla is a caricature
Morning routine- 'ommmmm'/ roars like a lion
Choice of verbs exaggerate his actions
Head of the family- lion is the head of the jungle. He thinks people respect him. but the author shows how ridicluous his actions are and clearly she is mocking him.
Reader's response- contempt towards his officious manner

Institution of arranged marriage is mocked
Evidence- p. 5 What have you married me to.
Explanation: husband and wife are ill-suited. Kulfi is a free-spirit while Mr Chawla is materialistic, stickler for rules

Solution to the drought shows how people in Shahkot react to a calamity
They all think that they are educated adn scientific but in reality their plans are useless.
Mocking how everyone has apoint of view and thinks theirs is the best and this results in more chaos
Foreshadows the end of the novel where everyone has a plan to capture the monkeys and they fail miserably.

Sampath's behaviour at the wedding.
Reader;'s response- first time they might be shocked at his behaviour and think that he is mentally unstable. However, a second reading shows that he has been so repressed by his society that we can't help cheering for him when he does break free.

Ammaji and Mr Chawla's reaction to Kulfi's paintings is humorous as it shows the reader how narrow-minded they are. they have no appreciation for originality and her free-minded ways.

The description of the family running to see Sampath in the guava orchard
The verbs and adjectives used make the family's moevements ridiculous
They complete fail to understand why Sampath has run away. he wanted to escape his family and here they have follwoed him to the orchard.
The family especially Mr Chawla and Pinky have no real concern for Sampath more worried about their image in society

Society is a narrow- minded, gossipy one- they way they talk about Sampath's behaviour at the wedding and when he runs away.

There is a dark humour in Desai's writing. The fantastic elements such as Kulfi's cooking and drawing, Sampath's dancing and running away are not humorous - it's the Shahkot inhabitants' reaction to these events that reveal what a narrow-minded repressed society Desai has created.