Justification of Title “Ice Candy Man” by Bapsi Sidhwa


Title of the novel Ice Candy Man seems to be contradictory as Lenny is the protagonist of the novel and the story revolves around the bloody partition of Indian Sub-continent during the late 1940s.

Moreover, it focuses on feminism. However, the title Ice candy Man holds great significance. This can be interpreted and justified in two ways.

1st Justification

First, Ice Candy Man, in a broader sense refers to every man of the Indian sub-continent. The men are as sweet as candy before the partition. There exists communal harmony among the people belonging to different communities.

The masseur, the gardener, the Ice Candy Man etc. all belong to different faiths yet they sit in one group cracking jokes and talking about the trending issues. In spite of having sensitive discussions, they remain friends and all are the admirers of Shanta Devi who is a Hindu.

Moreover, in the first visit of Lenny to Pir Pindo, we witness that Muslims vow to protect Sikhs from the upcoming danger and vice versa. They talk about their relations, dependencies etc.

But this candy-like situation vanishes with the breaking of violence of partition and the ice portion becomes visible. Ice Candy Man is seen celebrating the vista of Lahore burning in flames and feels excited about the death of masseur. He also betrays Lenny by ensuring to help Ayah but instead helps mob to locate her hiding.

In addition, the scene at Pir Pindo is contrasting to the first one, when Lenny visited this place. The Muslim men and children are butchered and Muslim women raped in the Mosques and then reduced to corpses by Sikh marauders.

Muslims also reply Sikhs and Hindus by killing their people and raping their women in Lahore. All this show how fake is the sweetness of man. It vanishes and the iced-face comes into light when such a situation arises.

2nd Justification

The other perspective of vindicating the significance of the title is to narrate the story of Ice Candy Man. Ice Candy Man is a good person having a humorous nature when we meet him in the beginning.

He has friends from different communities. He is one of the admirers of Shanta Devi who is a Hindu. He possesses the qualities of wit and humour and entertains the readers with his funny actions.

But when the partition takes place, he happens to witness the train which carries the dead bodies of Muslims killed mercilessly by Hindus and Sikhs. He also sees the sack filled with the breasts of Muslim women.

This incident changes him into a villain. He cherishes the murder of Sikhs and Hindus in Lahore. In the final portion of the novel, he shows his extreme of villainy by deceiving Lenny and helping Muslim mob locating the hiding of Ayah who drags her out of the house and take her to Kotha where she is gang-raped and forced to become a prostitute.

But again we find a transformation in his character. He repents his actions and marries Ayah. He also becomes a poet. He tries to convince Ayah about his true love for her but she leaves for Amritsar and he follows her to the border.

This shows the complex nature of a human being that cannot be judged. Hence the title Ice Candy Man of the novel carries great and profound significance both in terms of humanity as well as the individual.