Themes

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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 245

In Divakaruni's novel One Amazing Thing, the action takes place in a visa office, in what appears to be California. As a massive earthquake strikes the city, nine people trapped in the basement of the office share personal stories of love, loss, betrayal, and redemption.

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A significant theme of the novel is the transcendent power of stories. As the stories unfold against the life-or-death situation, barriers fall, stereotypes break, and the walls dividing religions and cultures collapse. The process of storytelling evokes catharsis. The troubled characters unburden past baggage and hope for a better future. They redeem themselves by acknowledging their imperfections and limitations. As one story leads to another, they find a space where they can trust and respect each other.

Another theme is the universal quest for the meaning of life. In the novel, The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer's characters are pilgrims, on their way to a holy site. Similarly, Divakaruni's characters are also on a personal "pilgrimage" to India. The would-be travelers realize that the timeless journey is more meaningful than the destination. The novel highlights the importance of being in the moment. Ironically, one needs to revisit the past to understand the significance of the present.

The novel explores the theme of the primal urge for survival. A natural disaster is beyond the control of humans. What matters is our response when crisis strikes. The characters discover their strength and resilience in the face of danger. They understand that survival needs interdependence.

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