During the French colonial period, Cambodian society was governed by strict rules. Girls were not allowed to show their emotions or express feelings of romantic affection. Girls were expected to be obedient and subservient, and do as they were told.
All of these concepts are clearly depicted in the novel “Love without Fate” by Ut Reourn. The two main characters are Ms Sarapheavy and Mr Nareth.
Growing up in the same village, these two characters share many unforgettable memories. They have something in common both Ms Sopheavy and Mr Nareth grow up with their grandmothers. The book depicts the way these grandmothers always go to make offerings and learn the dharma at the pagoda on Buddhist holy days. It was on one such day that the two characters met as children.
Besides sharing the same childhood, they study with each other from primary level through high school. Though Nareth is not good at math or physics, many girls find him attractive because he is skilled at drawing. Sopheavy also loves his talent. School becomes the place where these two people enjoy times they will remember and become trusted friends to one another.
After graduating from high school, they separate. Nareth is told to study to become a teacher as being a teacher is really respected and honoured at that time, though he really loves the arts and drawing. Given his strong passion for drawing, he continues studying the basics with a French instructor. He eventually becomes a genius artist.
After four years, these students coincidentally meet at a national event organised by students and teachers from each university. This is when Nareth becomes interested in Sopheavy for her beauty and character. As promised, he draws her a picture and confesses his love when he give it to her.
As Ms Sopheavy also loves him, she starts dating him every weekend, yet their meetings are criticised by teachers and other older people. They always shift the meeting place, yet they are still criticised. Their love cannot last long, as one day Ms Sopheavy receives a proposal to by a rich man.
She asks Nareth to take her far away. Unluckily, they are caught. Ms Sopheavy is forced to marry the other man and Nareth is left to suffer alone.
The story depicts the actual life of an artist who lived under the social constraints of that period. The author’s aim is to elaborate on and explain the fact that although they have pure love for each other, it does not change the fact that they have to listen to their parents. Besides that, arranged marriages are quite important so students should not build romantic relationships while studying.