Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 328
Dimple Dasgupta is the main character in the story. She fantasizes about marrying a neurosurgeon and has a very positive view of marriage. She believes that it will be filled with love and elegance. She does not seem to care about much more than finding the perfect husband, and she goes to great lengths to make herself an attractive candidate for marriage. She uses skin lightening cream and tries to get breast implants. She is unsuccessful and is also unable to get her Bachelor’s degree. She eventually marries, Amit, and the couple moves to the United States. Dimple is overwhelmed by the freedom the U.S. provides compared to the structure of India, and she comes to resent her husband, as he is degraded as a jobless Indian in American culture. Furthermore, she spends most of her time alone once he is employed. She becomes obsessed with soap operas and takes on the personalities of a soap opera character. Ultimately, she gets very depressed and loses her sanity; she murders Amit to liberate herself.
Dimple’s father finds Amit, an engineer who is looking for a wife to immigrate to the United States with him.
Amit Basu is Dimple’s husband. He has grand plans of becoming rich in the United States. However, he quickly learns how difficult it is for immigrants.
Milt Glasser is a quintessential American boy who Dimple has an affair with. She feels trapped in her marriage to Amit; however, she is also lost in her relationship with Milt.
Ina Mullick is the example of a fully assimilated immigrant to Dimple. She is from Bengali and is very wealthy. She resents traditional values and wants to practice more liberated American sexuality. She also has an affair with Milt Glasser and Leni Anspach. Bijoy Mullick is Ina’s husband who she greatly dislikes. He is a wealthy business man. Leni Anspach is an American who is thought to have had an affair with Ina.
Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 483
Dimple Dasgupta, the female protagonist, an ordinary woman from the urban Bengali middle class. She attends Calcutta University, hoping that a college degree will enhance her prospects for finding a good husband. Obsessed with her own physical inadequacies, she entertains vivid, unrealistic fantasies about a glamorous lifestyle after marriage. Her arranged marriage to Amit Basu, an engineer bound for America, leaves her disappointed and disillusioned. She resents Amit and his family, and she hates her subservient role, that expected of a Bengali bride. When she becomes pregnant, she expresses her quiet rebellion by inducing an abortion. She and Amit immigrate to New York. After Amit gets a job, she spends most of her time alone in their apartment, watching television, sleeping, or reading magazines. Her excessive exposure to soap operas and violence on television warps her values and distorts her sense of reality. She frequently plunges into moods of depression, fantasizing about different ways of committing suicide or inflicting pain on her husband. Unable to find love in her arranged marriage, she has an affair with Milt Glasser, an all-American boy. Her cultural values are eroded in Milt’s company. Driven by guilt, passion, and revenge, she finally liberates herself by stabbing her husband to death. This act of self-empowerment makes her feel strangely American, like some character in a television show.
Amit Basu, Dimple’s husband. He immigrates to the United States with the idea of making a fortune and then returning to his homeland to live in affluence. Insensitive, indifferent, and acquisitive, he slights his wife and fails to win her heart after marriage.
Milt Glasser, an enormous young American who seduces Dimple by treating her with sensitive casualness. To her, he represents America, promising the “glittering alternatives” cut off by her marriage to Amit. Milt lures her to drink vodka, eat hamburgers, wear jeans, and sleep with him.
Ina Mullick, a well-educated, seemingly Americanized and “chillingly sexy” Bengali woman involved in the women’s liberation movement. A graduate of Calcutta University, she wanted to be a physicist, but her educational career was cut short when her father married her off to Bijoy Mullick, a rich Bengali entrepreneur living in America. An unhappy wife, she expresses her sense of rebellion against the ideal of Indian womanhood by adopting American attitudes toward sexuality. Presumably, she has had a lesbian relationship with an American woman, Leni Anspach, and is carrying on an affair with Milt Glasser. She is considered a bad influence on Indian expatriate wives.
Meena Sen, the Bengali couple with whom Dimple and Amit stay when they first arrive in New York.
Marsha Mookerji, Milt Glasser’s sister, a professor at Columbia University. She is married to a Bengali professor, Prodosh Mookerji. During their sabbatical, the Mookerjis let Amit and Dimple move into their Manhattan apartment.
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