Mrs. Dutta Writes a Letter

by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

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Topics for Further Study

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Research arranged marriages as they exist in India today, and compare these unions to the arranged marriages that take place among Indian families in the United States. Discuss how the respective women’s movements in each country have affected the women in these marriages.

Research what life is currently like for widows in Calcutta, and discuss some possibilities for what might happen to Mrs. Dutta when she returns to live with Mrs. Basu.

In the story, Mrs. Dutta is an Indian living in America. Research what life is like for Americans living in India, and discuss the cultural conflicts that these men and women face. Choose one daily Indian ritual that seems alien to you, and write a short report on the purpose of this ritual, how it got started, and how it has changed over the years.

Research the varieties of traditional Indian food that are still enjoyed in India today. Create a sample Indian menu that includes several of these foods, and write a short description for each item. Try to come up with at least five items for each major meal course.

Find another, non-Indian culture from any time in history, which believed women should be subordinate to men. Compare this culture to Indian culture. Find one woman from this other culture who defied this rule, and write a short biography about her.

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