Character Jasmine: Mukherjee’s Novel

Length: 6 Pages 1616 Words

“Jasmine’s postcolonial, ethnic characters are post-American, carving out new spaces for themselves from among a constellation of available cultural narratives, never remaining bound by any one, and always fluidly negotiating the boundaries of their past, present, and futures…” John K. Hoppe Introduction: The “American dream” means different things to different people. For many who were born in the U.S. it means a home in the suburbs with a two-car garage, a good job, and money enough for nice vacations and to send the kids to college. To Jasmine in Mukherjee’s novel, just getting away from her life as an Indian widow with nothing but destitution was the realization of one kind of dream. It was a dream to fly free of the pathos and grimness of her shattered life. But there were much bigger dreams on the horizon, which have whet the appetites of millions of readers. To wit, when Jasmine became in a remarkably short time an American woman who displayed confidence, charm, beauty, sexuality, and who pursued bold and even brazen new dreams, she became a literary heroine in a very real sense. This new woman, the reader discovers, is gifted, focused, and fascinating because somehow she constantly reinvents herself. Continue...


A reader can clearly see that Jasmine's role as protagonist is to leave one cultural situation that is grim and move to another less grim, albeit on the way to discovery (as a pioneer in a new frontier) Jasmine gets to have it both ways. Readers in India and other South Asian cultures no doubt disliked that part of the novel, along with the cavalier attitude Jasmine takes towards her lover Bud. "She knows there is something else, Jasmine (the narrator) explains. She can't tell Mother Ripplemeyer the truth about India, about how "docile women turn "savage over the last bucket of muddy water at the well, and when Mother Ripplemeyer asks why Jasmine left India, Jasmine just says it was for a better education. She views her many identities "with a detachment that has been forced in pain, Leard writes, adding that Jasmine suffers a "terrible agony of a woman who cannot free herself from the collective memory of her haunting past (Leard). Body of the paper: Uma Parameswaran writes in World Literature Today that Jasmine had a sense about herself, an innate power to overcome. Kick it while it's down, especially if you can distance yourself from it. But was her motivation also based on a desire to not only flee the misery but abandon her culture altogether Did she have a wild streak in her and needed to manifest it somewhere - American being the most obvious place And was it her passion based on "becoming American in order to engage in activities and values that were forbidden in India Several scholarly critiques of the novel provide answers to these and other questions. Jasmine says she needs to protect her mother-in-law "from too much reality (Mukherjee, p. Likely it would have been far more difficult to change her identity in India, whereas in the United States there are so many different cultures and so many identities to change into she has found her dream home. Indeed, continuing her life in Indian, Leard writes, and live the life of a widow "...is to live a fate worse than death. Meantime Carmen Faymonville, also writing in the journal Explicator (Faymonville, 1997), explains that in giving up her Hindu values and her Indian identity and relocating (albeit illegally) to America, Jasmine has become something of a frontier pathfinder, a theme that the novel carries through with aplomb. And because she can ride this love train as far as she wants without having to rely in any way on Hindu or Indian values she is proud and indeed says, "I feel so potent, a goddess (Mukherjee, p.