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With Reference To Bharati Mukherjee's "Jasmine", Write On The Following Topic: Violence And Transformation

2187 words - 9 pages

In Bharati Mukherjee's Jasmine, violence is a motif that is dealt with at various levels. Firstly, there is patriarchal violence directed towards women, in which Jasmine is a major receiver. Also, there is the violence that results from political disputes in South Asia, such at the Partition Riots and the rebel movements which affects Jasmine's family. Jasmine herself is also an agent of violence as she kills the mad dog, and more significantly, the man who raped her.Violence affects Jasmine; it results in a transformation. In Jasmine, violence results in a change in circumstances and mindset. These factors shape one's character and identity. Violence forces Jasmine to change. She ...view middle of the document...

Following which, she is called "Jase", a short form of "Jasmine" when she goes to work as a caregiver in Manhattan. Even though "Jase" is probably Taylor's attempt to shorten her name, Jasmine perceives it as a change in her identity. This is perhaps the time when Jasmine comes closest to being a "city woman" as she "went to movies and lived for today", spending her salary on clothes, like many other young women in Manhattan.Her name is changed to "Jane" when she lives with Bud in Iowa. Thus, all these name changes serve to emphasize the instability and fluidity of identity. Besides name changes, Jasmine's transformation in identity is largely caused by violence. This is the case as without experiencing violence, Jasmine would not have faced the circumstances that she faced in the novel which resulted in some of the name changes. Jasmine gladly leaves part of her old self behind at each new stage of development as she says: "for me, experience must be forgotten, or else it will kill", which can explain why she is receptive to name changes and a change in identity.Violence disrupts stability. A potentially stable and peaceful existence is destroyed as a result of violence. However, the strength of the human spirit is reflected in the fact that one does not succumb to the onslaught of adversity. This is exemplified in Jasmine, who adapts herself to the changed circumstances through transformation. Violence in the past affects Jasmine. For instance, Jasmine would not have been without a dowry if her family had not been forced to seek refuge in a village due to political violence, losing their wealth is the process. To Jasmine, "Lahore was magic and Lahore was chaos". Her family was driven out of Lahore by "chaos" and the stark contrast between the "flaky mud huts" that she lives in and the "big stucco house" in Lahore makes Lahore seem surreal, like "magic". Lahore as surreal is emphasized by the fact that it has become part of "family story", a memory of better times that Jasmine did not get to experience. Jasmine's anger at such transformation in circumstances is seen by her exclamation: "Life shouldn't have turned out this way!" Hence, political violence in the past have in a way transformed Jasmine's circumstances, rendering her dowryless, making it hard for her to secure a good marriage, particularly unfavourable in the South Asian context where a woman's worth is measured by her husband's social status. It is her dowryless state that allows her to marry Prakesh, which sets the stage for her widowhood.The starting point of Jasmine's real transformation is when Prakesh is murdered. It propels her decision to travel to America. It is a shocking decision even to her, as she exclaims: "I must be mad!" However, the reader is probably not as shocked as Jasmine. This is the case as Mukherjee has already presented Jasmine as having the potential to take an unconventional path as she had been established as a non-conformist earlier in the novel. She...

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