Character Sketch of Dinu in The Glass Palace

Rajkumar‘s second son, Dinu, plays an important role in binding the plot and the Arjun subplot of The Glass Palace together. From the beginning, Rajkumar and his younger son, Dinu, are depicted as distant from each other. In his childhood, Dinu had developed a limp because of polio. Because of his disability, Dinu had grown up as a withdrawn child, although for Dolly he seemed to be a matured child. As he grows older, Dinu, who had affiliations with the socialist cause, develops ideological differences with his father. But there is one point when father and son came together they had both volunteered to be Air Raid Precaution (ARP) wardens for Rangoon in the days preceding the Japanese occupation of Burma. But the manner in which they arrive at the same positions only serves to accentuate the difference in their motivations.

But as the narrative progesses, Dinu‘s characterization becomes more complex than a simple allegorical representation of a social internationalist viewpoint.

His encounters with Arjun at Meiktila are key precipitants in this change. But when he meets him during Neel and Manju‘s wedding, he becomes aware of a different facet of Arjun‘s character like his capacity for ‘imaginative precision’. Things sour between them in Sungei Pattani when for a brief moment they become rivals for Alison‘s love. But Alison‘s death and their subsequent encounter in drastically different circumstances in the jungle at Meiktila makes Dinu reevaluate Arjun once again. During their conversation Arjun tells him that the Japanese surrender meant absolutely nothing to him. He joined an Indian army that had been fighting for an Indian cause, and that the war was not over for him. Of course, this last display of defiance is immediately followed by his despairing comment about the Empire staining all their lives. However, Dinu does not pity Arjun in this moment when he confesses the absolute nature of his defeat; rather, he feels compassion and realizes that even in this despairing statement, there was a sort of triumph and courage – which he did not wish to diminish by arguing. After this encounter with Arjun, Dinu felt ‘profoundly shaken’ for the first time. Besides his life-changing encounter with Arjun in the forests in Meiktila, Dinu‘s changing relationship to photography becomes a useful way of mapping the shifts in his characterization. During his youth, Dinu is represented as ‘detached.’ Dolly, who is a painter, believes that Dinu‘s interest in photography grew out of his childhood habit of looking over while she sketched.

She encouraged Dinu‘s interest in photography because she felt that it would draw Dinu out of his self-absorption.

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