Desai’s novels portray women eager to be close and attached to their husbands who either preach or behave in a detached, indifferent manner. In such a situation, there is bound to be depression. If the women, are particularly sensitive, the depression would result in breakdown. The existential anguish encountered by each woman protagonist when analysed in the light of their relationship with their husbands becomes more comprehensible.
In Cry the Peacock Maya-Gautama relationship, Gautama is characterised as an unsympathetic husband having no tender feelings for Maya. However, in reality he is not a cruel husband. There are many instances in the novel which show he is kind and considerate to his wife. Maya’s tendency to see everything in the light of emotion accounts for the lack of communication between them. She becomes miserable and makes life miserable for Gautama too. His indifference or forgetfulness makes Maya decide in favour of murder. Her failure to see things in an objective way causes her downfall.
In Voices in the city Monisha-Jiban relationship ends in alienation due to the absence of love. Monisha is not like any other Bengali woman, she is not “one of those vast, soft, masses-of-rice Bengali woman, with a bunch of key s at their waist and nothing in her head but a reckoning of the stores in her pantry, and nothing in her heart but a stupid sense of injury and affront.” She is a voracious reader, an intellectual with liking for Kafka, Hopkins, Dostoyevsky and French and Sanskrit works. Monisha feels like a trapped animal in Calcutta. Jiban, her husband, knows very little of her misery. Instead of caring for her feelings, he sides with his own people. When Monisha is accused of theft he too joins them. She realises that she is completely alienated. So she sets herself ablaze and dies before help could reach her.