Throughout the novel, as stated earlier, a strong sense of devotion is seen in the relationship between Bimala and Nikhil. It is key to notice that an indirect evaluation of the role of women is seen in this novel also, in a very subtle manner. In the society described, Bimala, like most women, blindly worships her husband. This can be seen when Bimala is described, “taking the dust of my husband’s feet without waking him”. When she is caught doing this act of reverence, her reaction is, “That had nothing to do with merit. It was a woman’s heart, which must worship in order to love.. This scene shows the average woman in this society who believes love will happen and worship is a given in a marriage. She blindly respects her husband without understanding or having a grasp of who he is.
Another one of the many scenes that alludes to a woman’s place in this society is when Nikhil and Sandip argue and Bimala is asked her opinion, which she finds unusual, in addition to “Never before had I had an opportunity of being present at a discussion between my husband and his men friends. This line shows how there is a strong disconnect and there is no place, usually, for a woman in real world conversations. To further prove this, in Nikhil’s story, the role of a woman is seen clearly, “Up till now Bimala was my home-made Bimala, the product of the confined space and the daily routine of small duties. These indirect references and descriptions are quite frequent throughout the novel and clearly allows the reader to get a sense of what women were subject to and their overall role in the society.
From the first page of the novel, the love and union between Nikhil and Bimala is illustrated as something sacred. Nikhil proved throughout the story that he was undeniably devoted to his wife. He proved this first by marrying a woman who hailed from a poor family, along with accepting her darker skin. He made great effort to not only educate her, but also for her to understand her place in the world and not just her place in the captivity of their house. He shows his love by giving her freedom. Bimala also adores her husband, but in a less material manner. This is demonstrated in Bimala’s daily ritual of “taking the dust”, an Indian ritual of reverence not usually performed by a wife to her husband.
Due to Bimala’s extreme devotion to Nikhil, in the beginning of the novel, the union between the two of them is seen as one that cannot be broken. However, as, the story progresses, Bimala is slowly overcome by her feelings for Sandip. She eventually realises that she has found in Sandip what she longed for in Nikhil, fierce ambition and even violent defence of one’s ideals. Her deep desire for Sandip led her to completely break her sacred union with Nikhil, going as far as to steal money from her household funds. Sandip shows his love for Bimala through idolisation. This idolisation comes about due to her freedom, though.
The tale clearly presents the theme of love and union time and time again, going from Nikhil and Bimala’s marriage, through the love triangle created by Sandip, and once again returning to Bimala’s love for Nikhil at the very end. This story tests the boundaries of the union of marriage. It stretches and twists it to the point where a 9-year marriage is nearly destroyed simply because of a raw temptation. In addition to the idea of romantic love, there is a sense of love of one’s own country depicted throughout the novel. Questions such as, is it best to love one’s country through action, perhaps even violence, or by passive tolerance, are posed in the arguments of Nikhil and Sandip. While love and worship seem parallel in marriage, Nikhil believes these feelings cannot apply to one’s country. To worship my country as a god is to bring a curse upon it.