63 pages • 2 hours readDeepti Kapoor
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The ancient, archetypal motif of the devouring father eating his own children plays out in Age of Vice. In Greek mythology, the Titan god Kronos cannibalizes his offspring. Age of Vice uses this motif to flesh out its exploration of violence and toxic masculinity. Bunty and Sunny’s relationship is portrayed as contentious from the very beginning, with Sunny’s naïve idealism clashing with his father’s hard materialism. Sunny is always hungry for his father’s approval and curiously defensive about him. When Neda quizzes Sunny about Bunty’s unethical business practices, Sunny counters that Bunty has committed no crime: “The only thing he’s guilty of is ambition. Of rising above his station” (232). In Sunny’s eyes, Bunty is a hero because he is a self-made man. Yet Bunty does not return Sunny’s respect. He considers Sunny too soft. Worse, Sunny’s ideas are in conflict with his. Sunny thus threatens the Indian archetype of the obedient son and must be subdued. When Bunty squarely plants his shoe in the middle of Sunny’s chest, the act symbolizes the old order, represented by fathers, stamping out the threat of change, represented by sons.
By the novel’s final section, Sunny has been devoured by his father; Bunty has caused Sunny to lose his individuality as well as his naïveté.