How did the characters like Indulekha and Madhavan inspire the contemporary generations to strike a balance between the western ideas and Indian traditional culture?
NOVELS often spoke to their readers about the real world. But they do not always show things exactly as they were in reality. Sometimes they presented a vision of how things ought to be. Social novelists often created heroes and heroines with ideal qualities who their readers could admire and imitate. In many novels written during colonial period, the ideal person successfully dealt with one of the central dilemma faced by colonial subject how to be modern with rejecting traditions, how to accept ideas coming from the west without loosing one’s identity.
Chandu Menon portrayed Indulekha as a woman of breathtaking beauty, high intellectual abilities, artistic talent, and with an education in English and Sanskrit. Madhvan, the hero of the novel was also presented in ideal colours. He was a member of the newly English educated class of Nayars from the university of Madras. He was also a ‘first rate Sanskrit Scholar’. He dressed in western clothes. But, at the same time, he kept a long tuft of hair according to the Nayar custom.
The heroes and heroines in most of the novels were people who lived in the modern world. Thus, they were different from the ideal of mythological characters of the earlier poetic literature of India. Under colonial rule, many English educated class found new western ways of living and thinking attractive but they also feared that a wholesale adoption of western values would destroy their traditional ways of living characters like Indulekha and Madhavan showed readers, how Indian and foreign life style could be brought together in an ideal combination.