According to anthropologist Lalervo Oberg, culture shock arises when suddenly one's sense of certainty is destroyed when one enters a foreign environment. A person undergoing culture shock experiences it as a series of "upsets -- breaks in reality because people behave differently" in a new culture and because the shocked individual finds him or herself in unfamiliar circumstances (Oberg, 2007). Yet the extraordinary clash of "The Father" does not result suddenly, even though the news is sudden -- the daughter's schema of values has been changing over time, only the father has ignored it, or not wished to see this change. Oberg says the clash occurs because "families and friends are far away," but in this case, the family member is close by, yet changed by her upbringing in a new culture.
Babli feels far away to her father. Her father experiences all of the "discontent, impatience, anger, sadness, and feeling incompetence" that "happens when a person is trying to adapt to a new culture that is very different from the culture of origin" (Guanipa, 1998). Mr. Bhowmick experienced this sensation when he came to the United States at first, of course, particularly since he feels he came out of compulsion, not out of choice. But this culture shock between father and daughter is even greater because it signals the next generation has changed beyond recognition to a member of the older generation.
It is as if the man's daughter has become a foreign culture, because of her new values. The father and daughter figuratively, if not literally speak a different language. Thus the main difference between traditional culture shock and this generational cultural shock that comes from the exposure of the younger generation to new values is that the shock is experienced upon a much more personal level. A daughter who has artificial insemination does not simply reject Indian values and patriarchy, but also her father's right to affect her life, by implication his good judgment, and also even his own positive role in her upbringing.
Her decision also reinforces the sense of impotence her father feels in the face of America, and the strength women seem to possess in America, including his own wife. His daughter has become a true woman of America, and will never have a traditional Indian family life. His own legacy has become destroyed, and unlike someone who travels to a foreign culture and experiences culture shock, there is no way the father of this tale can leave the situation and return to more familiar circumstances. Even the perfect Indian patriarchal past he dreams of was a fiction, as the strength of his own wife demonstrates to the reader of the story.
Guanipa, Carmen. "Culture Shock." San Diego University. 17 Mar 1998. 2 Jul 2007. http://edweb.sdsu.edu/people/CGuanipa/cultshok.htm
Mukherjee, Bharati "The Father." From Literature and the Writing Process.
Elizabeth McMahan, Susan X Day, & Robert Funk (Eds.). New York Prentice
Oberg, Lalervo. "Culture Shock & the Problem of Adjustment to New Cultural