What is the thematic significance of the plane disaster in The Management of Grief?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I tend to think that the thematic significance of the plane disaster is that it ushers in the cultural collision course that Shaila endures.  As the plane explodes and kills her husband and children, it also causes her sense of cultural identity to explode.  Just as there is an attempt to reassemble life after the plane disaster, Shaila must assemble her own cultural sense of identity.  The forcible nature of death that confronts Shaila as a result of the disaster is one in which there is a sincere to struggle what to do, how to live, and which cultural expressions need to be accepted and which ones need to be rejected.  For Shaila, these concerns did not have to be approached for while her role as a mother and wife were alive, she could take solace in the role of duty as cover for cultural questioning.  Yet, when this is interrupted by the plane disaster, she must find answers both from herself and the cultural notions of the good that envelop her as both Canadian and Indian.  In this, the thematic significance of the plane disaster is to enable her characterization to develop, specifically assessing cultural limitations in both notions of the good and seek to define her own identity in an active manner.  These realities help guide Shaila's characterization and the thematic exploration of cultural identity and personal choice as a part of being in the modern setting.

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The Management of Grief

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