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Abstract

Raja Rao’s Kanthapura, set during the Gandhian resistance movement against British rule, focuses on the effects of colonialism and Gandhian ideology in a small rural Indian village. Narrated by elderly Brahmin woman Achakka, the story focuses on the actions of Gandhi man Moorthy and the effects of his actions on the villagers. Throughout the novel, Moorthy urges the villagers to join the Gandhian movement by engaging in protests (such as fighting against the Toddy trees) and breaking away from the traditional caste-enforced system. His fellow villagers begin to embrace his ideologies and soon begin to join the movement, which leads to subsequent police interventions. This paper seeks to shed light on the link between the land and social behavior by focusing on the villagers’ intimacy with the physical space around them and how characters—as well as ideological phenomena—manipulate this space to completely change the village’s social structure. The paper introduces crowd psychology to take this socio-geographical notion a step further, showing that both traditional orthodoxy and Gandhism manipulate the villagers through the utilization of space and spatial imagery. The conclusion does away with the idea of space as a passive entity, asserting that within the village of Kanthapura, it is space itself that ultimately reflects the villagers’ innermost desires and goals, making it a physical representation of the collective village mind.

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