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Where Shall We Go This Summer by Anita Desai

by Litinbox

Where Shall We Go This Summer‘ is the fourth novel by Sahitya Academy Award winner Anita Desai. This novel deals with prenatal neurosis of a sensitive middle class woman and her inability to tolerate with the male chauvinistic, loveless and unkind husband.

‘Where Shall We Go This Summer’ was first published in the year 1975. It centers around Sita, a sensitive middle-aged homemaker whose mental conflict to choose between her boring urban life and conservative village life forms the plot of the novel.

The virtuoso of the author, Anita Desai, reveals in the sound picturisation of the distressed life of a middle class woman and her mental struggle in a realistic manner.

Desai’s other famous novels include Cry, the Peacock (1963), Voices in the City (1965), Fire on the Mountain (1977) and The Village by the Sea (1982).

Where Shall We Go This Summer Summary

‘Where Shall We Go This Summer’ has three parts:
  • Monsoon 67
  • Winter 47
  • Monsoon 67

The division of sections may symbolise the change or transformation of Sita’s mind in course of time (change of weather in her mind).

Sita is the protagonist of the novel. When the novel opens, Sita has 4 children and pregnant for the 5th time. She wishes to abandon the city and withdraws to her native village. But ultimately she begins to reconsider the life in city.

Monsoon 67

Sita is already a mother of four children and pregnant with the fifth one. When she realises that she’s pregnant for the fifth time, this brings sudden changes in her mind. 

She doesn’t want her fifth child to be born into this meaningless, unfriendly and hostile atmosphere of the world. The relationship between husband and wife is no longer healthy and interactive.

Sita reaches the Manori island where she had spent her childhood with her father. She also brings her two children Karan and Menaka along with her. She doesn’t want her fifth child to be born into this world.

She wishes to create a miracle by keeping the child unborn. She thinks that the world around her is corrupted, hostile, and wicked, and therefore it doesn’t deserve to have her child.

Sita’s inner psyche is not completely untraceable. She has maladjustments with her husband, Raman. This makes her feel alienated from her husband and the gap extends day by day.

Raman is a businessman and seems to have no feelings and affection towards Sita. Sita is a normal woman who has all the feelings of a woman. Her feelings are unfulfilled as a married woman.

Sita senses that her dreams would remain dreams and it may never become true in her lifetime. She and Raman both stand as binary opposites. She begins to hate her husband for his lack of feelings. So she searches for the means of escape.

As a result, she ends up developing some bad habits including smoking. She also becomes rude and beat her children even for trivial things. When she has to carry one more child, it adds to her pressure. Finally, she resolves to leave the house and husband for Manori.

Manori is a land of freedom and magic. Her father has made it a magical land. Sita hopes that her father will make another magic even after his death (he is no more now) in keeping her child unborn. So, she has literally come here on a pilgrimage to beg her father to perform this miracle. And thereby she also hopes to revive her past.

Winter 47

This section of ‘Where Shall We Go This Summer’ recollects Sita’s past childhood life. Her father was a dedicated freedom fighter. Many people of his village considered him a saint and they used to ask suggestions for their problems. He also had solved many of their problems.

He had retired from the public life after India had achieved its Independence from the British.  He came to settle in the Manori island which he received as a token of respect from one of his admirers named Dalwala, a Parsi millionaire. He built a house in the island and named it Jeevan Ashram – the Home of the Soul.

When she was a young, Sita was never given an opportunity to attend school. Her brother Jeevan accompanied her most of the times in the island. Sita was brought up in this island. Her father practiced black magic and the locals revered him as a legend. He also became expert in treating the supposed  incurable ailments. But, he failed as a father. His children didn’t get any comforts from him. He had an affair with a concubine and his wife found another lover and started to live with him.

Once, Sita found her father collecting pearls and gold at the dead of night to be distributed to villagers along with medicine. Later she learnt from Jeevan that this jewellery belonged to their mother, her father’s second wife, who had left him perhaps because he had gone to live in Benares with his lover. Sita also had suspicion over his relationship with her stepsister Rekha. All these make her to develop an unrealistic attitude towards life.

Nonetheless, the atmosphere of the island gave all the comforts the children failed to receive from the parents. Raman’s father is a friend of her father’s. He took her to Bombay after her father’s death.

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Monsoon 67

Sita’s hope shattered in the island when she becomes more unhappy and restless there. It seems she can no longer escape from the reality of life. She is unable to communicate with her dead father. For the first time in her life, she doubts her father’s black magic and miracle cure.

When her husband finally arrives in the island, she goes with him to accept the reality of life in Bombay. Sita didn’t receive the love of her father and mother and the same is the case with her husband. This makes Sita an emotionally introvert.

Anita Desai beautifully portrays the alienation in the husband and wife relationship in this novel ‘Where Shall We Go This Summer’. This marriage proves a choice of lust and hunger and not of love. Sita hoped that the marriage would bring an end to her monotonous life in Manori island with her father. Unfortunately, she experiences no change in life in the city either.

Where Shall We Go This Summer Characters

Two primary characters in ‘Where Shall We Go This Summer’ are Sita and her husband. There are other characters also. But they are given less importance in the plot of the novel. Let’s see these characters:


Sita is the protagonist of ‘Where Shall We Go This Summer’. A great part of the novel hangs around the protagonist and her mental conflict between her urban and the conservative village life. She is suffering from prenatal neurosis or maternal neurosis. She is already the mother of four children and now the 5th child is on the way.

Sita has many dreams. Primarily, she yearns for love, affection and care. She received no love from her parents from childhood and the same is the case with her husband now. The marriage turns out to be futile as her husband is interested in only her body. She fears at one point that her life has become monotonous routine of giving birth and raising children. Her fear has a meaning because she is now pregnant with her fifth child, which strengthens her point.

She struggles through a difficult summer and tries to escape it. But, unfortunately she is caught up in winter which is more distressing. She feels alienated from her husband, Raman, and is unhappy with her life. This leads her to return to her childhood home in Manori island in search of solace and miracles. However, she finds no solace and her dead can’t make miracles as she has expected. Finally, she realises that she can’t escape from the reality of life and chooses to return to the summer of life.


Raman is Sita’s husband. Raman is a businessman who has no emotion but lust towards Sita. Sita longs for love and affection from her husband but Raman seems to never fulfill her expectations. This lack of affection and understanding towards Sita arouses the feelings of isolation and unhappiness in her.

Sita’s Father

Sita’s father was once a freedom fighter. He was dead even before the novel starts. After retiring from freedom fight, he became a well-known person in the Manori island as a person who can make miracles. The people of the island respected him like a saint because he could provide solutions their problems.

However, he failed as a father who couldn’t be an inspiration to his children. He had an affair with a concubine and his wife lived with another man. Sita’s mental struggles are partly because of her uninspiring children under the care of her father.


Jeevan is Sita’s brother who shared her childhood in Manori island. Through him Sita comes to know her father’s true nature; his affair with a concubine and how he used the jewels of her mother for his magic practice.


Rekha is Sita’s stepsister. Her father’s relationship with her adds to Sita’s confusion about her father’s character. This suspicion of Sita makes her to develop an unrealistic attitude towards life.