Our Lady of Alice Bhatti is a novel written by Muhammad Hanif, a Pakistani writer. This novel explores the themes of Feminism, Social Marginalization on the basis of religion and tragedy of class difference in local love stories.
Contents of Our Lady of Alice Bhatti
- AUTHOR’S INTRODUCTION
- TITLE SIGNIFICANCE
- CRITICAL SUMMARY
- CHARACTER ANALYSIS
Introduction to the Author-Muhammad Hanif
Muhammad Hanif is a British Pakistani writer and Journalist who writes a monthly opinion piece in The New York Times.
He has written films and stage plays such as; “The Long Night”.
Our lady of Alice Bhatti is also nominated for many awards including Welcome Trust Book Prize in 2012
Hanif writes about the theme of religion, love, politics .problem of working class, sexuality and religious issues. A Case of Exploding Mangoes and Our Lady of Alice Bhatti”are two popular novels of Muhammad Hanif.
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Title Significance of Our Lady of Alice Bhatti
The title of “OUR LADY OF ALICE BHATTI” is very significant. The word OUR LADY refers towards the belief of Christianity. It is the belief of Christian that “VIRGIN MARY” the mother of Jesus is their “Our Lady.”
This honorable and sacred title is associated with a common lady, ALICE. He is giving respect to Alice by using respective word our lady. It also manifests that he is giving rights to minorities and all women by using this respective word.
Our Lady of Alice Bhatti can be read as a Feminist Novel due to the word “Our Lady”. It is also significant because in English Lady word is used for the respected women.
Our Lady of Alice Bhatti Summary and Analysis
Muhammad Hanif presents a novel that is based on love and tragedy. The story of this cultural fictional novel revolves around the daily life of a Christian nurse who is working in Government hospital that is full of drug addicts. This novel depicts how minorities are marginalized in Pakistan.
Alice is beautiful woman in Our Lady of Alice Bhatti summary. She is savior, victim, accused, heroine and Protagonist of “our lady of Alice Bhatti”. Alice has just come from prison.Alice lives in French Colony that is an infamous colony of Christians. Alice’s mother is a healer of patients. Alice wants second chance to check her luck.
She gets the fruit of her labor by getting job of Junior Nurse of Grade 4 at Sacred Heart Hospital by the help of her friend Noor.
The hospital in which Alice works is full of shoot-out victims and drug addicts. This also shows that how “Our Lady of Alice Bhatti” has been presented as a feminist novel.
When the novel opens, we find Alice in hospital while giving interview for Grade 4 of Junior nurse. Three members were at interview panel, Sister Hina, Ortho Sir, and Dr.Jamus Pereira.
They show least interest in her interview and were taking about current affairs. Sister Hina was sitting with PAAN in her mouth.This shows that women also exploit other women.
“Senior Sister Hina Alvi sits on the interview panel with a paan tucked in the right side of her mouth, her tongue occasionally licking the crimson juice before it can become a dribble.”
Dr. Pereira, a chief medical officer who was only hope for Alice. Ortho Sir sits takes her interview in derogatory was.but he selects he on the appeal of Noor as a nurse of Grade 4.
In this novel, it is shown that Christian ladies were seen as sexual object. Even she is called CHURA by the Muslim girls in hospital.Alice is shown as pitiable creature.
Our Lady of Alice Bhatti is shown resilient and ready to fight. Once, she was harassed by the son of her affluent patient, but Alice attacked him with a razor in her defense.
Mohammed Hanif’s writing also follows Satan everywhere, through anxieties of helpless people with no escape from the brutal shameless.
Teddy Butt, a bodybuilder and absurd character. He does filthy work for Gentlemen Squad, (they claim) rapists calling themselves the Gentlemen’s Squad. When the squad has to murder someone, it’s Teddy Butt who seduces with the men before their executions.
Alice is spelled by Teddy Butt, “ Muslah”,and they marry on Submarine.During delivery the mother is died but Alice saved her child by prays.
After that she adopts the child and Teddy thinks that she has illegitimate baby.This love marriage leads to tragic denouement In suspicion,Teddy throws acid on Alice that causes her death.
Hospital crew saw that Alice is picked by VIRGIN MARY and JESUS, which shows the purity and innocence of Alice Bhatti.
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Our lady of Alice Bhatti Character Analysis
- Alice Bhatti
- Joseph Bhatti
- Teddy Butt
- Senior Sister Hina Alvi
- Ortho Sir
- Inspector Malangi
Alice Bhatti is the protagonist of this novel.She is nurse in Sacred Heart hospital. She belongs to a Christian family. She is beautiful and brave and fights for her defense. People are attracted to her.
She has married with Teddy Butt to secure herself but Teddy proves to be toxic man. The issues of minorities represented through the lens of Alice Bhatti.
She has just come out of prison. Hanif has compared her with HOLY MOTHER because she in innocent.
Hanif analyses the society through the lens of feminisim and shows the power of men society Especially in Sacred Heart Hospital.Alice is harassed by the son of her patient but she proves to be resilient and uses razor for her self-defense.
She is again and again humiliated by society.
“Mostly people call her ‘daughter’ or ‘sister’ and then do exactly what they would do with their own sister and daughter: they treat her like a slave they bought at the clearance sale.”
Teddy Butt throws acid on her due to some misunderstanding. When Teddy was on his mission Alice use to live with Sister Hina.In those days when Teddy returns,he came to know that she is Christian.This thing annoys her and he went to hospital.There Noor tells that she has a baby and Teddy suspects that she is no longer a virgin lady and has illegitimate baby.
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He throws acid on her and she dies.The brutality of men is reflected through the act of Teddy.
“Men constantly feel hungry and women constantly feel sad. That’s what marriage does to them.”
Joseph Bhatti is the father of Alice in the novel Our Lady of Alice Bhatti. He lives in French Colony and works as sewage cleaner.
Ortho sir is Orthopedic surgeon in Sacred Heart hospital.H e takes the interview of Alice in Our Lady of Alice Bhatti.
SISTER HINA ALVI
Sister Hina Alvi is a nurse in hospital and her role is very important in the novel Our lady of Alice Bhatti. She is a Christian but she shows herself a Muslim to get respect, but Alice knows that she belongs from Christian family.at that time Hina tells her story that her name was HENNA a Christian name and Alvi was her husbands’s name.
Noor is a ward boy who works in Sacred Heart hospital. He is jail friend of Alice. He was in that hospital on approach of Alice.
Zainab is mother of Noor. She is ill and Noor takes her care.
He is a police officer in the novel Our Lady of Alice Bhatti and has an experience of 36 year in police.He is head of G squad.He is presented as villain in this novel.He has played an important part in the death of Alice as Teddy throws acid on her on the advice of Malangi.
Teddy Butt is member of G. Squad and husband of Alice Bhatti.He works with Malangi.He feels himself powerful when he has pistol in his hand.
Setting of Our Lady of Alice Bhatti
The setting of Our Lady of Alice Bhatti novel is KARACHI, Sacred Heart Hospital for all ailments.
Alice Bhatti is the protagonist of this novel.
Our Lady of Alice Bhatti is a cultural fictional novel.
Our lady of Alice Bhatti is narrated by third person narrator.
Themes in Our Lady of Alice Bhatti
- Rights of Minorities
- Gender Discrimination
- Theme of love
- Religious Discrimination
- Class differences
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RIGHTS OF MINORITIES
“Our Lady of Alice Bhatti” realistically portrays the violation of the rights of minorities. Father of Alice says;
“These Muslims will make you clean their shit and then complain that you stink.”
They are called “Choohras“, this derogatory term refers to their status as an “untouchable” sweeper.Even Noor,Hina Alvi and Alice are given minor jobs.
Senior Sister Hina Alvi’s original name is Henna.She is a Christian but has adopted a Muslim name Hina to save herself from exploitation.
Our Lady of Alice Bhatti has been portrayed as a social satire on the Pakistani society and talks about the rights of minorities in pakistan.
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Alice is excluded from the mainstream of patriarchal society on the basis of her caste,creed ,gender and religion.During her interview at hospital, seniors doctors and nurse mock her in dehumanizing manner in Our Lady of Alice Bhatti.
“Men think that the best use of their eyes is to weigh a woman’s anatomy”
Sister Hina Alivi, has understood that she has to always live below the patriarchy of men. Sister Hina Alivi knows that Pakistani women can never question their positions in the patriarchal society.
The theme of corruption and immorality is shown in this novel, Our Lady of Alice Bhatti through the illegal acts of G. Squad and community of Doctors.Both of them make capital out of exploiting the lower classes.
TRAGEDY IN LOVE
Teddy Butt claims to be in love with Alice.He wanted her to prosletyze but she does not convert.On finding the portrait of Christ in her cupboard,he is instigated.
“It’s futile to predict what love will make of you, but sometimes it brings you things you never knew you wanted.”
He believed blindly in the statement of Noor and did not inspect from Alice about the reality of the child. On the suggestion of Inspector Malangi, he throws acid on Alice. Society poisons the relationship between families in this novel, Our Lady of Alice Bhatti.
Alice and her Christian community are marginalized and humiliated on religion base .They are called “Choohras ”and “Untouchables ”.They are forced to change their religion.
“Life has taught Alice Bhatti that every little step forward in life is preceded by a ritual humiliation. Every little happiness asks for a down payment. Too many humiliations and a journey that goes in circles means that her face is permanently in the red. She accepts that role. ‘I’ll do my best’.
In Bapsi Sidhwa’s novel Ice-candyman, “ parsi” are treated in the same manners as Christians are shown in Our Lady of Alice Bhatti.
Our Lady of Alice Bhatti is powerful feminist novel.but it’s different in a way that it’s not by women author but Hanif wrote it from the perspective of a woman who is treated bad by the men of Pakistani society.The plight of women is depicted by atrocities committed against them. Sister Hina Alvi has to adopt a false name due to fear of being maltreated.
“Now she has lived long enough to know that cutting up women is a sport older than cricket but just as popular and equally full of obscure rituals and intricate rules that everyone seems to know except her.”
Alice Bhatti is Sexually objectified just like her mother who was raped and murdered in so-called civilized society. She was like a magnet who attracted the glances of men.
Her murder on the basis of honor by her barbarous husband is a microcosmic representative of the savage treatment of women in Pakistani society that is shown in Our Lady of Alice Bhatti.
Class distinction is major issue in Pakistan. In this novel, Our Lady of Alice Bhatti, Alice Bhatti faces a lot of difficulties due to her lower class.Her father was a sewage cleaner.Her mother was raped. They face various discrimination.
Begum Qazalbash belongs to the bourgeoisie class.She is given high protocol in society.Alice is harassed by her second son in hospital but no action is taken against her son as he belongs from rich class.
“Men constantly feel hungry and women constantly feel sad. That’s what marriage does to them.
Alice’s mother has been raped by rich bourgeoisie man who murders her. Also Teddy throws acid on Alice.
Our Lady of Alice Bhatti is a novel that shows that Pakistani women are living in the heart of religious, and political violence. Hanif has shown how women are hunted by men. The end of love is shown as tragedy in this novel.