Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Mukherjee uses the technique of reporting in the story to produce distance between the narrator, Mrs. Bhave, and her surroundings. This conveys the shock and thus the surreal quality of the experience of loss. She also uses stream of consciousness and chains of thought to convey the experience of loss in the narrative, linking seemingly unrelated events or words, such as the women making tea and Mrs. Bhave’s sons making breakfast.

Mukherjee employs juxtaposition as well. One fact or event is placed alongside another, in seeming agreement or concordance, yet the effect of such placement is to pose irreconcilable disagreement between ideas, people, and cultures. An example of this is Kusum describing how modern women are fake because they must declare their love out loud, and then her own daughter Pam coming out into the living room and demonstrating modern and fake as defined by the preceding conversation. A more chilling example is the woman who makes tea; she is pregnant with her fifth child, all sons, and all living.

Historical Context

(Literature of Developing Nations for Students)

Postcolonial India
Great Britain began colonizing India in the middle of the eighteenth century and spent the next two hundred...

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Literary Style

(Literature of Developing Nations for Students)

Kusum serves as a foil to Shaila. A foil is a character whose qualities serve to contrast with and therefore emphasize the...

(The entire section is 870 words.)

Topics for Further Study

(Literature of Developing Nations for Students)

Research and put on a debate about the desirability of Canada's policy of multiculturalism. Include a "representative" of Shaila Bhave in the...

(The entire section is 152 words.)

What Do I Read Next?

(Literature of Developing Nations for Students)

Darkness, Mukherjee's first book of short stories, also focuses on the experiences of immigrants in the West.


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(Society and Self, Critical Representations in Literature)

Suggested Readings

Carter-Sanborn, Kristin. “We Murder Who We Were’: Jasmine and the Violence of Identity.” American Literature 66, no. 3 (September, 1994): 573-593.

Moyers, Bill. “An Interview with Bharati Mukherjee.” In Connections: A Multicultural Reader for Writers, edited by Judith A. Stanford. Mountain View, Calif.: Mayfield, 1993.

Mukherjee, Bharati, and Clark Blaise. The Sorrow and the Pity: The Haunting Legacy of the Air India Tragedy. Markham, Ontario: Viking, 1987.

Bibliography and Further Reading

(Literature of Developing Nations for Students)

Birch, Dinah, "Other People," in London Review of Books, Vol. 11, No. 13, My 6, 1989, pp. 18-19.


(The entire section is 214 words.)