Queer Struggle, Defiance and Victory of Hijra in Arundhati Roy's The Ministry of Utmost Happiness

Rehmat Naseer, Amna Umer Cheema

  • Rehmat Naseer University of the Punjab, Lahore
  • Amna Umer Cheema University of the Punjab, Lahore
Keywords: Queer, Heteronormative, Hijra, Subversion, Resistance, Utopia, Minorities.


This paper examines the struggle of queer people through the perspective of the term Queer in Arundhati Roy's The Ministry of Utmost Happiness (2017). This paper aims to explore the persistent struggle of queer minorities in Indian society, their challenges to the cultural traditions of heteronormative society and their modes of resistance. The paper mainly focuses on the protagonist of the early part of the novel, Anjum, formerly Aftab, who is one of the socially abandoned transgender characters of modern India. The purpose of this research is to explore the queer subversion against the heteronormative ideals in Roy's novel and to show through Anjum’s vision of queer resistance and utopia. In the novel, Anjum's choice of leaving her house and living in a queer utopia, fighting individually with the society throughout her life, establishing a small, but self-dependent community in the graveyard, and sheltering the minorities like “queers, addicts, orphans, Muslims and other dropouts from the society” (Zubair, 2018, p. 35), does not exhibit her defeat or helplessness, but her defiance and rebellion against the status quo. This act has also empowered her to redefine her life in the best possible way by creating an alternative Duniya where she could shelter “all people from different shades and shapes of life” (Raina, 2017, p. 837).