Summary (Magill's Survey of American Literature, Revised Edition)
Wife, Mukherjee’s second published novel, exemplifies the matter and manner of her early work. Unlike her first novel, The Tiger’s Daughter, which is wholly set in India, most of Wife takes place in the United States. With a gentle irony that serves to alleviate and distance an otherwise pathetic protagonist, Mukherjee depicts the mental breakdown of a weak-minded young woman who cannot cope with the traumatic experience of immigration from the structured society of India to the liberated society of New York City.
The opening sentences of the novel introduce the protagonist and set the playfully ironic tone:Dimple Dasgupta had set her heart on marrying a neurosurgeon, but her father was looking for engineers in the matrimonial ads. . . . She fantasized about young men with mustaches, dressed in spotless white, peering into opened skulls. Marriage would bring her freedom, cocktail parties on carpeted lawns, fund-raising dinners for noble charities. Marriage would bring her love.
The literary ancestry of this narrative tone is traceable to Austen, particularly to Pride and Prejudice (1813). The genre, a comedy of manners about marriage, is also reminiscent of Austen, though Mukherjee chooses to emphasize the woes of marriage rather than its joys (as Austen does). Also unlike Austen, Mukherjee’s focus is not upon an intricate character (such as Austen’s Elizabeth Bennet), but on a rather simple...
(The entire section is 1102 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of Wife Summary. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!