A prolific Bengalese writer, Tagore structured this novel such that three main characters represent the turbulence of the Partition that was yet to come to India in 1947. Nikhil is married to Bimala, living in the traditional domestic manner; for herself, Bimala has no expectation of her life ever deviating from her wifely path. The concept of "Swadeshi", a renewed appreciation of everything Indian, and a denial of everything British, particularly British imported goods and grains, rages throughout the country. The egocentric Sandip, a guest in Nikhil's home, is a fierce proponant of Swadeshi. Sandip finds himself passionately attracted to Bimala; he idealizes her as the epitome of "Mother" India, and pursues Bimala without reservation. Flattered by Sandip's attention, Bimala begins to question the nature of her marriage, and the three embark upon an emotional journey that will forever alter their lives, just as India begins a lengthy period of upheaval and unrest. Of the three, Sandip is transparantly shallow, while Nikhil thoughtfully considers every aspect before embarking on a course of action. Both men indulge in lengthy discourses, but the introduction by Anita Desai does much to frame this novel in the appropriate perspective. The allegorical nature of this tale is evident as the characters plunge headlong into the future.