Portrayal of Female Characters in Train to Pakistan: An anti-feminist and Reader-Response Perspective

  • Zarina Qasim, Dr. Assistant Professor, Department of English, University of Sargodha, Sargodha
  • Asifa Qasim, Dr. Qassim University, KSA


The study aims at exploring the portrayal of women in “Train to Pakistan” by Khushwant Singh. It is aimed to understand the way the female characters are represented as seductress, femme fatal, and as the angels by a male author through the lens of Reader-Response Theory along with the Anti-Feminist Theory. Being an anti-feminist, Khushwant Singh has presented the women traditionally in negative roles, negating all kinds of freedom and liberation to them. The study examines the ideological assumptions of patriarchy through the representation of women as being seductive and angelic characters. The writer has presented the women as alluring and charming whose purpose is to get the attention of the men for the sake of getting money, by completely negating the lustful and manipulative nature of the men who are exploiting women by taking benefit of their weakness. He has presented Nooran as unfaithful and disloyal to her father because of having an illicit relationship with a dacoit. Haseena is presented as a sixteen-year-old prostitute, serving a man as old as her father just to get money. Juggut’s mother is a good woman who is serving her child, enduring his all kinds of disrespect, insults, and humiliations. The study proves to be significant in order to understand the general and typical view of the men towards the women as the ones whose primary and only role is to serve their male counterparts socially, physically, emotionally, and sexually and to be faithful and loyal to them.

Keywords: Seductress, Femme Fatale, Submissive, Objectification, Reader-Response Theory, Anti-Feminist Theory, Woman as Reader Approach, Patriarchy

Author Biography

Asifa Qasim, Dr., Qassim University, KSA

Assistant Professor, English Department


Agarwal, S. (2009). Genocide of Women in Hinduism. Retrieved from http://www.scribd.com/doc/12444255/Genoside-of-Women-in-Hinduism-by-Sita-Agarwal.`
Ahsan, S., & Haque, A. (2015). Khushwant Singh's Train to Pakistan : The Heteroglot World of Sikhs, Muslims, and Hindus in a Sikh Village. 1(4). https://doi.org/10.18178/ijlll.2015.1.4.53
Beauvoir, S. D. (1976). Lé Deuxiéme Sexe (The Second SeX). Oxford : Oxford University Press.
Bhabad, P. R. (2016). Asian Research Consortium Representation of Women in ‘ Train to Pakistan ’ by Khushwant Singh.
Culler, J. (1982). On Deconstruction: Theory and Criticism after Structuralism. New York: Cornell University Press.
Dar, B. (2013). The Theme of Partition In Khushwant Singh's Novel Train To Pakistan. International Journal of English Language and Linguistic Research, Vol. 1, No.1, pp 21-23.
Dhanju, S. S. (2019). Train to Pakistan as a Partition. 6(11), 120–126.
Elaine, S. A. (1977). Literature of Their Own. British Woman Novelists from Bronte to Lessing. Princeton.
Gilbert, S. M., & Gubar, S. (2020). The madwoman in the attic. Yale University Press.
Iser, W. (1972). The Reading Process: A Phenomenological Approach. The Johns Hopkins University Press, 279-299.
Kanimozhi, P., & Literature, I. I. M. A. E. (n.d.). An Analysis of Khushwant Sigh’s Train to Pakistan. 76–78.
Mart, C. T. (2019). Reader-response theory and literature discussions: A springboard for exploring literary texts. New Educational Review, 56(2), 78–87. https://doi.org/10.15804/tner.2019.56.2.06
Meyer. S. J. P. (1975). The Female Imagination. New York: Knopf
Moers, E. (1976). Literary women. Doubleday.
Purohit, R. (2012). An Androcentric and Gynocentric Perspective of Women as Victims in Partition Fiction: A Comparative Study. Language in India. 12(2)
Rosenblatt, L. M. (1978). The Reader, the Text, the Poem: The Transactional Theory of the Literary Work. Carbondale, IL: Sothern Illinois University Press.
Sehrawat, A. (2013). Love and Sacrifice in the Time of Partition : A Study of Khushwant Singh's Train to Pakistan. Roy. 36, 128–130.
Sharma, M. (2019). Communal Frenzy in Khushwant Singh’s Novel Train to Pakistan. JALHSS. 37(1). https://doi.org/10.33193/JALHSS.
Showalter, E. (1977). A Literature of Their Own: British Women Novelist from Bronte to Lessing. N.J: Princeton University Press, 1977.
Showalter, E. (1985), The New Feminist Criticism Essay on Women Literature and Theory. NJ: Pantheon Books
Showalter, E. (1999). A Literature of Their Own. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Singh, K. (1956). Train to Pakistan. New Delhi: Penguin Books India.
Stanton, E. C. (1869). Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Feminist as Thinker: A Reader in Documents and Essays. New York: NYU Press.
Tyson, L. (2006). Critical Theory: A user-friendly guide. New York: Routledge.
Virdee, P. & Safdar, A. (2017). From Mano Majra to Faqiranwalla :Revisiting the Train the Pakistan, 9–28. South Asia Chronicle. 7(2), 21-43
Yang, A. (2002). Science fiction in the efl class. Language, Culture and Curriculum, 15(1), 50–60. https://doi.org/10.1080/07908310208666632
How to Cite
QASIM, Zarina; QASIM, Asifa. Portrayal of Female Characters in Train to Pakistan: An anti-feminist and Reader-Response Perspective. University of Chitral Journal of Linguistics & Literature, [S.l.], v. 6, n. I, p. 26-43, mar. 2022. ISSN 2663-1512. Available at: <https://jll.uoch.edu.pk/index.php/journal10/article/view/316>. Date accessed: 17 may 2022. doi: https://doi.org/10.33195/jll.v6iI.316.