The Characters

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

Jasmine is a complex, resourceful, and dynamic character who undergoes dramatic changes throughout the novel. A young, daring woman from India, she represents Bharati Mukherjee’s concept of “the new breed” of Americans from non-European countries who are imperceptibly changing the face of America. Endowed by nature with good looks and a good mind, she uses them both to her fullest advantage to seek happiness and self-fulfillment. With her remarkable willpower, she fights an undesirable fate as she resists the hold of a feudal and patriarchal family. Her marriage to Prakash allows her to break the mold of the traditional female role in Indian society and strengthens her hopes for a bright future. When Prakash decides to go to school in America, she sees this as a possible way to subvert the fate predicted by the astrologer. Even her husband’s death does not deter her from realizing her American Dream. Her arduous voyage to America shows her stubborn will to survive and her determination to re-create her destiny. She goes through several rebirths to become all-American. Her adaptability and readiness to reinvent herself aid her assimilation into American society.

Prakash Vijh, Jyoti’s husband, impresses the reader with his modern outlook and revolutionary ideas. He liberates Jyoti from her feudal past and transforms her into a new kind of modern woman, capable of independent thought. He renames her Jasmine and stirs her mind with new...

(The entire section is 545 words.)

Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Jasmine Vijh

Jasmine Vijh, later called Jane Ripplemeyer, the narrator. She was born in Hasnapur, India, and given the name Jyoti. She is the fifth daughter of her parents and the seventh of nine children; as such, she is somewhat unwanted. An astrologer predicts that she is doomed to widowhood and exile. Jasmine is determined to chart the course of her own life. She marries Prakash Vijh at the age of fourteen, and he renames her Jasmine as a means of breaking her from her past. After he is murdered by a Muslim fanatic, Jasmine fulfills Prakash’s wish and goes to the United States, entering illegally. She first works as a caregiver for Taylor Hayes, a college professor in New York City. She then flees from Sukhwinder, the man who killed her husband, and moves to Baden, Iowa, where she falls in love with Bud Ripplemeyer and becomes his common-law wife, living as Jane Ripplemeyer. Taylor eventually finds Jasmine, and the two decide to move to California. Jasmine has several identities; she is a different person to different people. To Prakash, she is Jasmine; to Half-Face, the man who raped her, she is the goddess Kali; to Lillian Gordon, who helped her find a job in New York City, she is Jazzy; to Taylor, she is Jase; to Bud, she is Jane. Her various identities finally make Jasmine realize that she is who she wants to make herself. At the end of the book, she is ready to take control of her own destiny.

Prakash Vijh

Prakash Vijh, Jasmine’s husband in India. Prakash is an aspiring engineer. He has graduated from a technical college in India and has worked at two jobs, one as a repairman and bookkeeper and the other as a math tutor. Prakash’s ambition is to go to the United States and finish his college education. He instills hopes in Jasmine by describing what he has learned about the United States and plays a crucial role in helping reshape her...

(The entire section is 778 words.)