Analyzing Fiction: The Human Condition

Home/ Analyzing Fiction: The Human Condition
Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation ElectiveSOL2EN3154

Semester and Year Offered: Winter semester 2019

Course Coordinator and Team: Diamond Oberoi Vahali

Email of course coordinator:

Pre-requisites:Basic interest in the complexity of human existence and an ability to analyze fiction.

Course Objectives/Description: This course looks at a few specific works of fiction that reflect the various facets of the human condition. While it examines the journeys of individuals who struggle to be human despite their own inner compulsions that pull them in contrary directions, it also traverses the journey of individuals as they confront their own marginalization and grapple with it, in their own specific way. The course thus observes these twin issues as it goes deep into the psychic and existential journeys of individuals as they face up to their own inner being and also realize the multifaceted realities of human existence.

The objective of the course is to familiarize the participants with a plethora of human complexities and their expression through a deep understanding of fictional narratives. It is also to sensitize us both to our own unwitting contribution in the creation of subjectivities that experience social and relational marginalities as it is to become a witness to our own inner world as we bear testimony to the complex hidden parts of fictional characters who are but a reflection of our own unknown, unacknowledged parts of self.

Course Outcomes:

On the successful completion of the course:

  1. Students will learn to analyze fiction and its nuances, they will learn to read between the lines and to pay attention to the unstated.
  2. They will gather deeper insights into the human psyche which may in turn help them improve their own interpersonal relationships
  3. Students will get familiar with a few psychoanalytical concepts as the course enters into the psychic terrains.
  4. As this course enters into deep existential moments of existence, it will help the students in enhancing their understanding of the human condition of each individual which will help inculcate a non judgemental and an empathic attitude towards others.
  5. The course will also lead to a deeper insight within the self as the assessment pattern of the course is largely based on self reflection.
  6. The students will develop the art of journal writing and reflective writing
  7. They will learn the art of conducting non intrusive interviews and deep listening both to other individuals as well as to narratives.

Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

The course will broadly examine themes related to beauty and ugliness, ability and disability, the struggle between responsibility and freedom, truth and dishonesty, love and violation, humility and strength, crime and punishment, racism and marginality, ego and the complete annihilation of self, the quest for the spiritual, guilt, atonement and confession, the intense desire to love and the complete inability to love, desire and its complete negation.

Selections will be made from the following list. Only a few of the text, listed within each module will be taken up for detailed analysis and study. The rest of the text will be analyzed by students during their presentations and in the process of writing term papers.

Module I: Violence and Beauty

Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye

Mohan Rakesh, “Miss Paul”

Module II: Love and Violation

Fyodor Dostoevsky, “The Meek one”

Qadiryar, “Qissa Puran Bhagat”

Andre Gide, The Immoralist

Mahmuduzzafar, “Masculinity”

Amrita Pritam, Pinjar

Module III: Ability and disability

Franz Kafka, “Metamorphosis”

Fyodor Dostoevsky, Notes from the Underground

Module IV: Atonement, confession and Reparation: The quest

Flaubert, “The Legend of St Julian the Hospitaller” (Three Tales)

Albert Camus, The Fall

Fyodor Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment

Module V: Being and Becoming

Thomas Hardy, The Mayor of Casterbridge

J.M. Coetzee, Disgrace

Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner

Module VI: The Incomprehensible

Manto, “Thanda Gosh”

Camus, The Outsider

Rajinder Singh Bedi “Lajwanti”

Mahasweta Devi, “Bayen”

Tehmina Durrani, Blasphemy

Reading list: The readings are included in the modules.

Assessment Details with weights:

Tentative Assessment schedule with details of weightage:



Date/period in which Assessment will take place



Class participation

Throughout the semester



Interview/creative document

Mid semester



Process paper/Reflection on the journal

End semester



Journal writing

End semester



Reading List: The list is included in the main modules


  • Sarat Chander Chhotapadhaya, Devdas
  • Gurdial Singh, Half Moon Night
  • D.H. Lawrence, Sons and Lovers
  • D.H. Lawrence, “The Rocking Horse Winner”
  • UR Ananta Murthy, Samskara
  • Ray Bradbury , “The Fog Horn”
  • Leo Tolstoy Anna Karenina
  • Premchand “Kafan”