Seeing Things As They Are
Sexism is a strong theme in this novel. In The Gateway of India, we see Dwight take advantage of several different women, all desperate because they need money. Interestingly enough, Dwight doesn’t at first recognize that he is exploiting the native people. He instead feels that he is gradually becoming more “Indian,” and this may be true at the end when he finally gives up his life as a rich businessman to seek spiritual enlightenment. However, he must first realize that he is not a saint for leading these girls out of poverty as he would like to believe but instead a sexual fiend. This moment of transformation happens when he realizes that even the partner he respects most, Shah, knows of his sexually perverse lifestyle. The fact that everybody is connected in a social network and everybody knows everything makes Dwight’s actions a crime against the Indian people as a whole. This novel does this to draw a strong distinction between America and India. A similar technique used to draw contrast is when Alice must fight for her case to be seen in court, it appears that it is her against all of Indian society.
Dwight’s transformation is paralleled to Shah’s transformation. The character of Shah may also be a reflection of the faults of American society, as America turns Shah into an impersonal, conniving jerk. Shah even seems to plot to get rid of Dwight by introducing him to a spiritual path. It seems that with both Dwight and Alice, they first get caught up in a type of unrealistic mentality in which they think they are living an authentic Indian lifestyle. But this notion of integration is phony. Dwight has to lure people to him with money he earned as an American businessman, and Alice has to pay her way through this minimalistic spiritual retreat center, which hypocritically frowns upon anything related to money-making. Dwight eventually realizes his disgusting ways and Alice realizes that her once imagined spiritual environment cannot be applied to the real world (Swami does not give her helpful information when she goes to him for help after being violated). At the end, these characters become completely authentic, because they realize who they really are and what matters to them in the world. They finally learn to see things as they truly are.