Chittra Banerjee Divakaruni Clothes Analysis

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Arranged marriage is a controversial practice in many cultures around the world. However, studies have found that roughly 85 percent of Indians prefer to engage in this tradition, and have a higher rate of marrital success than a marriage based on personal choice. (Dholakia, 4) Yet, even considering these statistics, it remains a concept that is met with dissapproval, thought to be archaic and demeaning to those involved. Chittra Banerjee Divakaruni’s short story Clothes depicts a young woman transition, from being obliged to follow this cultural norm, and the shifts in her mentality throughout this process. It is not unreasonable for the reader to view the protagonist, Sumita, to be a victim of this presumably inhumane practice. However, it is also rational to interpret this story to be a narrative of feminist…show more content…
Divakaruni explores these opposing arguments using clothing as a metaphoric representation of both Sumita’s captivity, as well as her liberation. From the start, Divakaruni uses clothing as physical manifestation of Sumita’s state of mind, “The water of the women’s lake laps against my breasts, cool, calming. I can feel it beginning to wash the hot nervousness away from my body. The little waves tickle my armpits, make my sari float up around me, wet and yellow, like a sunflower after rain.” (Divakaruni, 1). The mention of Sumita’s sari shows the reader that she has not yet been changed by the life she will soon be thrown into. She is told by her family that she is lucky, as this man is from America. This is the first implication of their perspective on western culture, that they are somehow of a lower status. She is fearful and apprehensive, but blocks out these emotions because to be chosen by an American man is seen as an honor, and to reject that would be ungreatful. Her father goes on to reassure her, with the use of
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