This struggle is the very reason for the writings of memoirs on the parts of Meena Alexander and Sara Suleri. The authors are not very old meaning that a general need to convey the sum of their life experiences has not beset them yet for their lives are obviously not over. While they certainly feel a general urge to impart their knowledge and experiences to the world, the primary objective of their texts is the selfish goal of assistance in their own definitions of themselves and the spaces of womanhood in which they exist.
By imprinting this struggle to paper, the authors assist themselves in this definition. While this endeavor into the realm of the self assists the authors of the memoirs, it is not the means by which they elect to connect with their readers. The actual connection required for a higher level of appreciation finds itself within the physical and tangible imagery conveyed by Suleri and Alexandar (Barlow 286). Within their self-definition, these authors assert their own feminine physical nature, and thereby communicate a sense of themselves through their images.
The culmination of this defining takes form in Alexander’s vivid description of birth and ” the feel of [my newly born son’s] lips, and my breast beneath (Alexander 167). ” In turn, the physiological imagery utilized by Suleri bolsters not only her self-image and presence, but also the very tangible and realistic relation of these images in the physical world. In her writing temporal boundaries are transcended through the realistic nature of her images.
The reader connects to the text in a sense that in order to appreciate these visions of another person’s life and space, one must enter into the described situation for a moment and feel therein, not only the actual description, but also the emotions and views of the author at that precise moment. In the reading of this scene in Meatless Days, “to sleep on Ifat’s bed was milk enough, to sleep in crumbling rest beside her body. Sometimes like water she runs through the sentences of sleep, a medium something other than itself, refracting, innocent of all the algae it can bear and capable of much transmogrification.
Her water laps around me almost in reproach (Suleri 186),” the reader cannot only envision the bed Suleri discusses, but also, through her control of syntax by means of utilizing the present tense and first person narrative, the understanding of the images of ‘algae, milk, water lapping and crumbling rest’ evolves to a level of emotional understanding and connection with the view of the author. Through this the space the reader is effectively transcended and the labeling of ‘the other’ not only disappears, but is never even given a chance to exist.
The use of imagery within writing takes on entirely new assets inside works of fiction, primarily in terms of its depth and the convenience of its access in the midst of this medium. The symbolic images of fiction are meant to be interpreted. This much more complex shape of symbolism reflects an art form of expressing the depth and intensity of a given situation through alternative means of literary tools by moving beyond already presented knowledge.
This in turn constructs an emotional link between oneself and the text as the reader becomes more psychologically and emotionally involved in the interpretation. In Fasting, Feasting, Anita Desai repeatedly demonstrates her ability to manipulate both of the literary aspects of symbolism, beginning with the more descriptive symbolism as a contrivance through which to better acquaint the reader with the setting and characters of the novel.
As the narrative progresses, one sees instances of symbolic imagery beckoning the reader to engross himself or herself in the character of Uma, portraying the author’s opinion that an emotional connection to the protagonist must transpire. Through the image of, “a koel  calling in the neem tree – piercingly, questingly, over and over again (Desai 25),” the reader is allowed a moment to question and consider the meaning of this symbol in the context of Uma as a character, and thereby finds themselves inadvertently, and more importantly, consciously connected to her.
A similar evocation of cognizant and emotionally involving thought occurs when “[insects] hurl themselves at the [blue oblong of electric light] like heathens in the frenzy of their false religion, and die with small, piercing denotations (Desai 167). ” The only difference in these two quotes is that the latter one concerns an emotional connection to the novel’s second protagonist, Uma’s younger brother, Arun. The importance of these images depends not upon the actual meaning of these symbols, rather upon the realization that the understanding of these symbols requires effort and consideration.
In a novel concerned with a culture differing from that of its readers, the establishment of an emotional connection becomes necessary due to the removal of the reader from the characters and text by means of cultural barriers and stereotypes. Through the incorporation of symbolic imagery the reader feels actively involved within the emotions and thoughts of the characters, and becomes much more apt at following the author’s gaze, or viewpoint, than situations in which the plot lines are merely narrated (Finke 45).