In Jasmine, Bharati Mukherjee gives us quite a few females in India and America that can be contrasted against the Jasmine character. Pick one contrast  and write a paragraph that describes the...

In Jasmine, Bharati Mukherjee gives us quite a few females in India and America that can be contrasted against the Jasmine character. Pick one contrast  and write a paragraph that describes the difference between the two female types.

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durbanville | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Jasmine by Bharati Mukherjee is the story of the transformation of a young woman, destined for a life of duty and servitude according to her Punjabi roots. Jasmine learns English - unusual for a girl in her circumstances- and this enables her to seek opportunities otherwise unavailable to her. She begins to believe that learning English is to "want the world" and her marriage to Prakash, a modern-thinking, city man, who intends to involve his wife in his future plans and a life in America, allows her to think outside of the otherwise oppressive and patriarchal existence she would have had as an unwanted daughter. The couple can now expect to enjoy a prosperous future. Unfortunately, tragedy strikes but, even after Prakash's death, Jasmine resolves to move to America. After a harrowing journey from India, she longs for a life of "ordinariness" which she begins to look forward to after meeting Lilian Gordon who helps her adjust.

In contrasting Jasmine with Lilian Gordon, while they have some similar attributes, the difference between them is most apparent in Jasmine's reaction to Half Face and the fact that she kills him. This reminds the reader that she is conflicted between a culture which uses retribution as a means of justice and the woman she wants to be. Lilian Gordon teaches her a different way to become a confident woman and not necessarily a submissive victim. Her personality type is very different from Jasmine's and this is most evident in her philanthropic nature. She will not judge, question or dictate to any of the people she helps transform from desperate, and, often, illegal immigrants. Lilian is loyal and dependable and, ironically reflects the sense of duty that Jasmine is so intent on escaping but which seems to follow her wherever she goes. She helps Jasmine understand herself better and helps her realize that there are various ways to reinvent herself - starting with changing her "boxy" shoes. Lilian will not try to change Jasmine who does not cope well around people who want to control her and is happy to act as an interim stepping stone in Jasmine's attempt to find herself.

All  the women Jasmine encounters, from her grandmother who expects obedience and duty, to the various American women whom she encounters, act as a contrast as they each represent one element of the ever-developing Jasmine. 

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