Seminar Paper, 2007
7 Pages, Grade: 2,0
1 Introduction to the Novel and the Topic
2 Violence in Bharati Mukherjee’s Jasmine
3 Violence as a Deconstruction of the Idyll
4 Works Cited
Bharati Mukherjee’s novel Jasmine is a story of an Indian woman, beginning with her birth and early life in a little town in India, over the emigration to the USA and finally to herself and what it means to become an American. The eponymous narrator in Jasmine, also known as Jyoti, Jase or Jane, passes through one situation and country to another and so is her inner self reborn several times towards a higher level, until she finally seems to have found a place to rest. Throughout the novel, Jasmine experiences numerous situations that bring violence with them. She is not always the subject of these situations, but they are always connected with her. It is not only physical violence experienced, but also mental violence that influences Jasmines further way of life and forces her to be reborn as a different person. The rough pictures that Mukherjee draws of violent moments reflect the psychological pain that comes with the changes of culture and life that Jasmine experiences. The paper will deal with these moments and analyze them according to their meaning for Jasmine.
Born as Jyoti in Hasnapur, a little town in India, Jasmine is told by an astrologer that she will be a widow at the age of 17. She doesn’t believe it, but the man hits her and she falls on the ground, bits her tongue and gets a scar on the forehead. “It’s my third eye […] now I’m a sage” (Mukherjee 5) is what she tells her sisters. The pain she feels and the scar will always remind her of that moment in her life, when she tried to run away from her fate. When Jasmine runs to her sisters at the river, she swims a while in it and suddenly sees a rotten dog’s body. The stench she smells and the pictures follow her for the rest of her life. Later in her life she still remembers the stench whenever she drinks a glass of water: “I know what I don’t want to become” (ibid. 5).
Jasmine’s father dies when she is a teenager. He gets killed by a bull after stepping out of a bus. Her mother shaves her head afterwards as a sign that she has given up her own life. Jasmine knows a story of a woman who burned herself on her husband’s grave after his death, so what her mother has done is not the worst case. But having experienced this sort of mental violence, see the father dead and the mother resigned, Jasmine stays strong and takes over the role of the mother in the house. At that point in the novel, Jasmine already takes over a new role in her life and leaves the old behind. She is no longer only a daughter, but she has to take responsibility for the rest of the family. The child is gone and she is reborn as a young woman.
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