¶ … Clothes
Do Clothes Make the Woman?
Clothes, Silence, and Rebirth in Chitra B. Divakaruni's short story entitled "Clothes"
Chitra B. Divakaruni's short story entitled "Clothes" begins in India and ends in the Indian community of America. However, Divakaruni clearly hopes to impart in the readers' mind a more universal lesson than one confined to the central protagonist Sumita's immediate cultural context, despite the many details present in the tale that are particular to the Indian community Divakaruni chronicles. Rather, the main idea of "Clothes" is how clothes symbolize the status of women, and specifically how women's visual rather than verbal display defines female status in traditional and modern contexts. The author first uses the cultural symbolism of clothing in a wedding setting to demonstrate specifically how women in India are seen as visual displays, rather than thinking human beings. Secondly, the author uses the literary symbolism of Sumita biting her tongue on her wedding night to stress how women's speech is smothered in marriage by societal norms and by men. Lastly, the tale symbolically ends with Sumita's husband's death, as the author brings the reader on a journey 'full circle' of Sumita's struggle with her marriage, beginning with the Sumita's viewing and ending with her 'death' as a wife. The use of cultural and literary symbolism, combined with the circularity of the tale's narrative of a marriage, makes for an effective...
The story begins during the bride viewing. Significantly, the bride is viewed in this traditional ceremony, not heard. The bride in this pre-wedding ceremony does not speak in any significant fashion. Rather, the primary significance of the bride is to display her clothing, and to show herself laden with gold and dressed in an expensive red sari, the color of luck. This shows the symbolic value of culture, color, and clothing, just as Sumita's sari during her airplane journey will later be symbolically blue with a red lining. Her clothing speaks for Sumita, not Sumita herself. Sumita's new clothing symbolizes her new status in life as an object to display her family and her husband's wealth. The cultural symbolism of the viewing and the focus on the bride's appearance and her sari becomes an important introduction in the initial, Indian context of the short story to the place of women in Sumita's culture.
The silence of the bride during the initial ceremony of the viewing, and the focus upon what a woman wears rather than how a woman speaks, especially in marriage, becomes even more starkly clear when the author depicts the central female character's wedding night. Beyond the cultural symbolism of the sari she wore during the viewing and Sumita's way of dressing, Divakaruni uses the act of Sumita biting her tongue during the wedding night to indicate…
33 that she and her husband saved together (Albert 99). Her husband, a proprietor of a 7-11 in a dangerous neighborhood, has worked hard for the family to establish a foothold in American society, and to leave his dream behind her seems like a defeat and a betrayal of his memory, as well as betrayal of her new identity. When her husband dies, Sumita knows that to return to India will
Peter Singer and Chitra Divakaruni each offer a powerful commentary on world poverty. Both of their respective essays, "The Singer Solution to World Poverty" and "Live Free and Starve" demonstrate good writing skills and rhetoric are therefore worthy pieces for inclusion into any book club. However, of the two authors only Divakaruni has first-hand experience of poverty. Singer's argument, while more shocking and powerful than Divakaruni's, falls short because of
find me a quiet, pretty girl, he wrote, not brash, like Calcutta girls are nowadays, not with too many western ideas. Someone who would be relieved to have her husband make the major decisions. But she had to be smart, at least a year of college, someone he could introduce to his friends with pride (Divakaruni). This quotation shows how superficial and self-absorbed the narrator is. He does not desire an
The characters in the poem are enjoying an Indian movie with a simple plot that makes them cry and feel good among themselves although for as long as the film was running, they have returned to their Indian identity completely loosing their American features. The two authors share the same revelation that came later in life and made them write the two respective literature pieces. but, while Divakaruni is writing
Symbolism plays a major role in Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni's "Clothes," Ralph Ellison's "Battle Royal," and in Colette's "The Hand." In "Clothes," the narrator is a woman in India from a traditional Bengali family. Her parents go through a lot of trouble to arrange a good marriage for her, to an Indian man who now lives in the United States. The husband-to-be flies all the way to India to meet the
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