A Wife's Story Essay

1926 words - 8 pages

In "A Wife's Story" written by Bharati Mukherjee, the narrator is an Indian woman named Panna who has left India to get a Ph. D. in special education in Manhattan. The story illustrates the relationship between Panna and her match-made husband who has come to visit her in Manhattan. Panna is drifting away from her husband because of the cultural changes she is going through. She has changed and he has not, thus the gap between them widens. My own marriage is not through match-making, and yet it has come to an end due to all kinds of differences that cannot be reconciled.As husband and wife, Panna does understand him to a certain extent. Just by listening to his voice over the phone she can ...view middle of the document...

I know my husband's preference too. He does not like me wearing long skirts and long-sleeved shirts because he thinks a woman looks old in that kind of attire. He also does not like me wearing high heels because I would be taller than him if I do so.The relationship between Panna and her husband is traditional and male-dominant. She still "doesn't call her husband by his first name" (470) and he "has never entered the kitchen of [their] Ahmadabad house" (472). On top of that, he gets jealous whenever other men talk to or show interest in her. He is the one who sends Panna to buy the tickets of their sightseeing tour because he thinks the Americans don't understand his accent, and yet he blames her for attracting those men because she wears pants instead of sari. He says to her, "I told you not to wear pants. He thinks you are Puerto Rican. He thinks he can treat you with disrespect" (472). In fact, he is so uncomfortable with the attention his wife is getting from men that he wants her to go back to India with him, ignoring the fact that she has not completed her study. He says, "I've come to take you back. I have seen how men watch you" (474). When Panna tells him she cannot go back with him, he picks up their food trays and throws them into the garbage, expressing his displeasure and demonstrating his male chauvinistic behavior. In my case, I call my husband by his first name, but not his "nickname" - only some of his female friends are allowed to call him by that name. He does some housework, but he is still a chauvinist. He demands me to be totally obedient. He decides we should live in Malaysia to be near his parents even though both of us work in Singapore, thus we spend six hours commuting on the road, crossing the border between the two countries every single day, for nine long years. It is really tiring and I think we can make better use of our time. But whenever I bring up this issue, he would simply ignore my point of view.It is of little wonder that Panna finds herself drifting away from her husband. While he remains the traditional Indian husband, she has changed much. In my case, my husband and I become more distant as our difference become more prominent over the years.First of all, Panna has started to assimilate into the American culture. She hugs Imre, a male friend, on the street, and they walk arm in arm to the bus stop. She is sure that her husband "would never dance or hug a woman on Broadway" (467) because he "[has] a well-developed sense of what's silly" (467). Hugging a friend of the opposite sex, a normal social gesture in America is considered "silly" by an Indian! In Panna's case, she clearly thinks of it as a social gesture now, just like the Americans. Even her vocabulary is so American now. She uses the word "trucks" (470) instead of "lorries" (470); and when her husband says "wardrobe" (471), she knows that is what the Americans call "garment bag" (471). What I experience is not the cultural difference due to...

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