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: The words like “Expatriate” and “Diaspora” need no introduction in postcolonial literary scenario. Indian diaspora, today, has emerged with the “multiplicity of histories, variety of culture, tradition, and a deep instinct for survival.” Indian Diaspora, though counting more than 20 million members world–wide, survives in between “home of origin” and “world of adoption.” The process of survival of the diasporic individual/ community in between the “home of origin” and the “world of adoption” is the voyage undertaken in the whole process from “alienation” to final “assimilation.” Bharati Mukherjee, an Indian born Canadian/ American novelist, has made a deep impression on the literary canvass. Her novels, honestly, depict the issues of her own cultural location in West Bengal in India, her displacement (alienation) from her land of origin to Canada where she was “simultaneously invisible” as a writer and “overexposed” as a racial minority and her final re-location (assimilation) to USA as a naturalised citizen. For the writer in The Tiger’s Daughter and Wife, the dilemma of belongingness in these two novels is a matter of flux and agony, which explores the problem of nationality, location, identity and historical memory in Canada. The “cultural diaspora-isation” what Stuart Mall calls marks the beginning of the desire for the survival in the community of adoption. The paper aims to explore her sense of alienation in Canada where life as an immigrant was unbearable, that forced her to make an effort towards the process of economic, social and cultural adjustment. Further, the paper will explore her desire for cultural fusion in the new dwellings, which in fact, is her own inward voyage in The Middleman and Other Stories and Jasmine. Finally, she visualised “assimilation” as on “end-product” which implies in totality “conforming to a national culture” of a “nationalist way of life.” KEYWORD USED: Diasporaisation Expatriate, Alienation, Assimilation, Belongingness, Belief,
***** “I am an American citizen”1 vehemently asserts Bharati Mukherjee from the core of her heart in her short story, Two ways to Belong in America, published in New York times in 1996. This story of the two sisters epitomizes a paradigm of becoming accustomed to a conventional American culture and its effects on a person's individuality. She begins the story with a sanguine note of the cultural milieu of herself and her sister, Mira, “almost identical in appearance and attitude”2 and their subsequent migration to America for further studies,
written in two different countries. The different periods of her literary profession can be assembled as – the period of alienation.”8 The women portraits are the spokesperson of her own experiences. has been the life of South-Asian expatriates and the dilemma of ‘acculturation’ and ‘assimilation’. women in society. Bharati Mukherjee’s foremost concern.2 The Theme of “Alienation” and Assimilation” in the Novels of Bharati Mukherjee ______________________________________________________________ which inexorably escorts us to ponder and brood over the “two facets”. Bharati Mukherjee is an investigative pioneer--of innovative terrains. “I was always wellemployed but never allowed to feel part of the local Quebec or larger Canadian society. one ethnic. their respective matrimonial alliances and finally their level of association in the host country. The preamble of the term ‘alienation’3 by Karl Marx in the last decade of the 19 th century has been invigorated in the mid-20th century with the progression of migration to America which has reached to the new high in terms of émigré populace. The two different sets of experiences. Instead of limiting to the constricted paradigm of .are reflected through five novels. Her characters are not controlled by one faith. Acculturation is the depressing upshot of post-modern scenario. her migration with her husband to Canada. becoming a Canadian citizen. ‘Assimilation’4 is an approach towards incorporation and amalgamation. then their emigration to America and final settlement in the States. and literatures—co-existent with her wide-ranging mission to discover new worlds. as a postmodern writer. two collections of short stories and two non-fictional works co-authored with her husband. however. Her odyssey through different nationalities can be recounted through her expedition at a juvenile age to study in America. Her two early novels The Tiger’s Daughters (1972) and Wife (1975) were written during the period of alienation in Canada. Mukherjee’s characters are autobiographical portraits of her interpretation and reaction of her experience as an expatriate in Canada which was “a cultural and psychological ‘mongrelization’”6 and her mounting identification of the self as ‘an immigrant nobody’7 in America. schedule castes in India. through them she extricates the trials and tribulations. through which. her entering into matrimony with “an American of Canadian parentage”5 novelist Clark Blaise. In the social sciences. not only immigrants but also other marginalized groups – African-Americans in American . The two sisters made their own choices-regarding their lifestyles. The Canadian occurrence. practices. has left its own scratch marks and blemishes on Mukherjee’s inherent sense of worth and stimulated and provoked her individuality. and the period of assimilation. racial or cultural proclivity.of an expatriate as well as an immigrant. the period of evolution.are "wrapped up" into an integrated conventional society. which Mukherjee had comprehended much early in her life when she joined the Creative Writing Programme in the United States in 1961. Bharati Mukherjee has altered several citizenships and lived in assorted cultural milieus with inexplicable alacrity.
the eminent sociologist. Contrary to the cultural . According to Milton Gordon. multiculturalism and the theory of Diaspora. The intrinsic triangular relationship exists between her as a migrant. disjointed community who struggles to hook-on to the nationalised community by entering into the wedlock with an American.With the advent of globalisation. the more Tara becomes cognizant of this point of divergence between. has attained new connotations. Tara Banerjee. regardless of how similar or divergent these two gene pools may be”11. proposed by Glazer and Moynihan (1970) arose in the sixties.3 Chetana Pokhriyal ______________________________________________________________ deliberation. In order to assimilate herself to her new surroundings she marries an American like Mukherjee did.the Indian wife and the American husband. They proposed a ‘melting pot paradigm’12. David Cartwright is wholly Western. David Cartwright. significance associated with design such as global deterritorialisation. Her first manifestation of alienation in a territory of immigration is through The Tiger’s Daughter.American to assimilate back to their native country. A sociological theory. the key protagonist. In a paradoxical situation. Transnationalism in Bharati Mukherjee is a broader expression. and the “place of belonging” i. Tara Banerjee. and finally America. India and destination countries. She suffers the spasm of estrangement which is awfully unfortunate. It is at that moment she excruciatingly realises that she is neither an Indian nor an American. The authors argue that migrants like Tara Banerjee are more prone to assimilate to a common (American) model but at the same time they increasingly retain their ethnicity more than ever. the more she is apprehensive of the verity that that she is a detachable entity from the nationalised community. Diaspora. inter-marriage leads to marital assimilation which is an “intermixture of the two ‘gene pools’ which the two populations represent. The idea and usage of transnationalism came into vogue with the term “transnational nation”9 by Randolph Bourne in 1916. the main protagonist. is a Brahmin girl who travels to America for advance studies. Tara Banerjee in The Tiger’s Daughter is alienated in her American set of connections and then alienated from her roots of pedigree. Tara Banerjee evaluates her life and ethics with that of her husband’s. alienation also refers to the concept of transnationalism.e.first Canada.. when she returns to India after seven years. which takes a closer look at the process of migrants’ integration in the case of New York City. transnational migration and cultural hybridity Bharati Mukherjee’s first novel The Tiger’s Daughter is a materialization of the diasporic community and hence alienated. it is similarly difficult for an Asian. is the ‘other’. While it is difficult for an Asian person to assimilate into American culture. Her pain of alienation is evident not only in Canada and America but even in her indigenous terrain of Bengal and wonders “how does the foreignness of spirit begin?”10. The spotlight is on both transnational communities represented by Bharati Mukherjee as well as transnational interpretations represented by the characters in her novels and short stories and their experiences. in particular. that in due course becomes the “place of belief”.
cocktail parties on carpeted lawns.S. Not only “alienation” but also the “transcendence of alienation” is an inherently historical concept. was actually based on the principle of ‘contract’ as identified by her husband. and starvation’14 of Calcutta. The “Americanisation” of her finer sensibilities. felt self-estrangement at a ‘loss of identity’. and fund-raising dinners for noble charities. she assassinates her husband and ultimately commits suicide. If Bharati Mukherjee in the initial years of her writing career was influenced by V. Bharati Mukherjee learnt to overcome the traumatic experiences of the ‘other’ from her mentor Malamud but at the same time she realised “the different sense of self. In Wife (1975). are seen in one of their joint publications. Mukherjee writes about a woman named Dimple who has been suppressed by men. The wistful. startle her. the Good Samaritan. gave her “the selfconfidence to write about her own community”16. the omnipresence of her husband David in the midst of rioting rabble and her own westernisation over the period of seven years add to her anguish and misery. of existence and of mortality”17 that differentiated her from Malamud. Dimple is a middle–class married woman who wishes to migrate and finally migrates from Calcutta to New York with a hope that “Marriage would bring her freedom. The ‘epidemics. Estrangement is a generalist standpoint and it. whose essential anxiety for the life of the marginalised and their anguish. suffers from the cultural dichotomy “surrendering those thousands of years of ‘pure culture”13. like Tara. her ethnicity comes to direct blows when her conjugal life which was supposed to be based on the standard code of ‘union’ identified by her right from her childhood. The character of Tara is aghast and horror-struck at this swing in response. her response to her relatives’ house which seemed elegant and chic to her previously looked shabbier afterwards. . too. like the novelist. passionate sensitivity of an immigrant for her mother country is dashed to pieces when it comes into direct blows with reality. Bharati Mukherjee’s characterisation of Dimple lends a divergent and an intricate perspective to the theme of immigration and subsequent alienation.Naipaul and “tried to explore state-of-the-art expatriation. collision. Marriage would bring her love”18. The husband and wife have different estimations and assessments of Indian encounter. has been condemned to some disgruntlement. Days and Nights in Calcutta. her distress and his apprehension. fatal accidents. her unruffled and frosty response to her nickname ‘Tultul’.4 The Theme of “Alienation” and Assimilation” in the Novels of Bharati Mukherjee ______________________________________________________________ belief. but out of foreboding fear and delicate volatility. Mukherjee. is desirous to be the idyllic Bengali wife. Tara is an immigrant ‘sandwiched between personality’ woman and suffers the ‘duality and conflict’ very divergent to her American life. The moral fiber of Tara’s character.”15 she later rejected Naipaul as a model and chose Bernard Malamud.
indolence and the wistfulness of the previous novels is replaced by the aspirations of the immigrants in the novels written after her settlement in America. This phase corresponds with Bharati Mukherjee’s migration. It is not the uncertainties of the new continent that challenge her but the uncertainties of her life in an unknown terra ferma. is a perfect version of peripheral confusions regarding American culture and habitat and internal commotion to choose between personal deliverance on the one hand and matrimonial bondage on the other that Dimple suffers from. The experiences of an immigrant portrayed are not in isolation but in a more relative perception. following her husband's assassination. Darkness (1985) and The Middleman and Other Stories (1988). Jasmine voluntarily undergoes transformation of the self from Jyoti to Jane to Jase to Jasmine. Two incidents from the novel. Jasmine builds up the proposal of the amalgamation. The author impresses upon her readers that immigration for some is an exodus from reality. and his socio-political analysis into consideration. enchant and liberate her from the expected unhappiness and afflictions. one. Her failure to grasp the pleasures of existence in New York with its bigness which “she had never seen before”19 is symbolic of failure of her marriage to Amit. The wrenching pain. Wife. Dimple shows signs of dilemma of cultures which is a domino effect of her phobic condition in the end. her atrocious assassination of her husband are emblematic expression of her turmoil flanked by the other and the self. more insightful and more Americanised. At every conversion of the personality she stands unyielding in resistance to her providence and destiny. She presumes that her migration to New York with her husband after marriage would gratify. migration and marriage are synonymous with each other. Bharati Mukherjee’s assimilation is a progressive and an irreversible phenomenon. Taking into consideration the Chicago School. justified by her struggle for subsistence in an . merely to be raped and in the long run return to the understanding of a caregiver through a succession of jobs. combination and absorption of the East in the West with a story telling of a young Hindu woman who leaves India for the U. owing to intimidating racial discriminations in Canada. in particular the work of Park (1930). dealing with heartrending facet of rootless distinctiveness. The novel. along with her husband. her enforced self-abortion and the other. from Canada to America. In the intervening period between the publication of Wife in 1975 and Jasmine in 1989. This phase has seen the publication of two volumes.S. The Middlemarch and Other Stories is an anthology with an extensive insight into the demeanor of an immigrant. Bharati Mukherjee wrote about two dozen stories. Her journey to the New World is a sort of “regeneration through Violence”20 and her ultimate realisation in America “that it won’t disintegrate’21.5 Chetana Pokhriyal ______________________________________________________________ For her.
travels to the States from India and illustrates the eagerness for incorporation in the mainstream American culture. her live-in relationship with Bud Ripplemayer without marriage and different impetuses of adaptation en route to assimilation which however pushes toward a homogeneous and harmonised way of living. Bharati Mukherjee industriously demarcates the process of migrants’ integration into the host country from a social point of view assessing the degree of social integration and assimilation. her autobiographical projection of characters in the early 80’s explore the dilemma of transition. she explores the migrants’ own perceptions about their integration rather than natives’ attitude toward migrants. pointing through numerous steps after her widowhoodtravelling to the New World. In this view. from an expatriate in Canada to an immigrant in the United States of America.6 The Theme of “Alienation” and Assimilation” in the Novels of Bharati Mukherjee ______________________________________________________________ alien milieu. at any rate it will converge to the American approach towards life. Secondly. the very existence of a progressive assimilation. This social theory ricochets the wistful nostalgia of an expatriate whose entire subsistence reclines on the ‘ex’ status of the times of yore. through her characters. A most recent development in the analysis is the “segmented assimilation”24 paradigm developed by Portes and Zou (1993). . through her novels. Canada offers a mosaic of multiculturalism that persuades people to preserve their unique cultural characteristics whereas United States proffers an assimilating melting pot to persuade all and sundry to become part of a homogeneous mass. cultural. Warner and Srole (1945) were the first to launch the notion of “straight line assimilation”22. A further radical blow to the straight line assimilation paradigm came from the work of Gans (1979. her absorption into the Americanised way of life. Bharati Mukherjee metamorphoses. This has been a seminally decisive model in the sociological literature. In other words. This model of convergence of Jasmine into the conventions of the society is somewhat detailed. the female protagonist from the third world. despite their very different ethnic. Bharati Mukherjee’s stay in Canada reflects “the sense of betrayal had its effect and drove me and thousands like me from the country”25 on the paradigm of “segmented assimilation”. Jasmine’s assimilation in the American way of life is more in tune with the notion of “straight line assimilation”. This prototype was strongly influenced by early migrants’ integration experiences in America. the crucial squabble being that migrants’ behaviour will become in due course increasingly similar to that of natives. getting raped. murdering the person who raped her. His “bumpy line theory”23 question. Jasmine. 1996). highlighting that migrants’ greater length of stay in the host country was not necessarily associated with a visible improvement in their economic and social conditions. From being an expatriate deracinated from her roots in the early 70’s. migrants assimilate in different strata of the host society. religious and linguistic background.
The constant reminder of language. Jasmine’s peculiarity of her personality adds to the mystic charm." regardless of the fact that she is an expatriate from India. Assimilation on the other hand is limited to the fusion of cultures”.She instantaneously indoctrinates the Americanisation of the personality in her character but the persistent Indiananess seems to stick to the subsurface of her adaptations.7 Chetana Pokhriyal ______________________________________________________________ “I need to feel like a part of the community I have adopted (as I tried to feel in Canada as well). The price that the immigrant willingly pays. translated into words through the live-in camaraderie of Bud Ripplemayer. to the standard of natives. Jasmine’s metamorphosis from her so-called Indianness and Punjabiness into a new–found ‘liquid’ identity of an American. rather. Jasmine has a monocultural. Migrants like Tara. It is very difficult to evaluate whether these Indian migrants that live in ethnically homogeneous communities have a predilection to socialize more. I need to put roots down. and monochromatic. Jasmine have a propensity to converge. view of the American society. multipart. Dimple. and so does Bharati Mukherjee albeit quite gradually. apart from conforming to the “straight–line theory” also conforms to “bumpy-line theory” of progressive assimilation. physical differences and loss of the native land no longer problematises the exceptionally intricate endeavour of assimilation. . “Amalgamation” is distinguished by Park and Burgess as “a biological process. Bharati Mukherjee in her candid confession bemoans the state of “overseas citizenship while expecting the permanent protection and economic benefits that come with living and working in America” 29.26 Dimple realizes the ethnic characteristics of the “little India” where IndianAmericans live. the fusion of races by interbreeding and intermarriage. and responds promptly to the behavioural patterns of America rather than the ethnic community of Indians. On meeting her husband’s former teacher Devinder Vadhera with “artificially maintained Indianness”27 . Jasmine. is the trauma of self-transformation”. egalitarian society. to vote and make the difference that I can.30 Bharati Mukherjee unambiguously has castoff the hyphenated sticky tag "Indian-American. Jasmine realises the naked reality and wants to run away from the “fortress of Punjabiness”28 . and that the exile avoids. is the celebration of amalgamated.
Winner 1988-1989.. Penguin. 23 Gans.p. 14 ibid. No. 4 Assimilation is the process whereby a minority group gradually adopts the customs and attitudes of the prevailing culture. p. July. ct. 272 6 Ibid. The Massachusetts Review. Indian reprint 1990)..ed.rptd. Jews. p. . Wife (Boston: Houghton Miffin. 59 21 Bharati Mukherjee. “Introduction”. 181 22 Warner. developed by Marx is the subject of much interest in sociological discussions relating to the human condition and our relationship to society and the workplace. 52. Quoted from The Atlantic Online. http. p. The Tiger’s Daughters (Boston:Houghton Miffin. 71 12 N. 86-97.1989). ‘Symbolic Ethnicity: The Future of Ethnic Groups and Cultures in America’. 37 11 Milton M. p. 272 3 The concept of ‘Alienation’. Vol.1972.P. 1996. 271 2 ibid. ‘An Interview with Bharati Mukherjee’. Italians and Irish of New York City. New Delhi. 1945. 20 Malashri Lal. 1985. 1970(1963)). “Transnational America”.htm 10 Bharati Mukherjee. The Social Systems of American Ethnic Groups. p. 1.. p. 18 Bharati Mukherjee. The New York Times. 5 Two Ways to Belong in America. 19 Wife. (Cambridge. p. W. 1975. p. 17 Alison B. Puerto Rican. p. 1916.com/issues/16jul/bourne. 2(1): 1-20. Penguin. //www. Gordon.1973). 1.. Darkness (Toronto. Jasmine(New York: Grove Weidenfeld. Assimilation in American Life p. p.118. 363 13 Two ways to Belong in America.theatlantic. Carb. (New Haven. London:Chatto and Windus.L. p. Glazer and D. 273 8 Ibid. “Bharati Mukherjee: The ‘Maximalist Credo” in K. 22nd September. Srole L. 1979. Beyond the Melting Pot: The Negroes. 3. Moynihan. 2003 xxvi.op. 97 15 Bharati Mukherjee. p. p.8 The Theme of “Alienation” and Assimilation” in the Novels of Bharati Mukherjee ______________________________________________________________ REFERENCES Bharati Mukherjee. p. Ethnic and Racial Studies. 272 7 Ibid. Two ways to Belong in America. Penguin Indian reprint).) Away : The Indian writer as a Expatriate.N. Yale University Press). 16 Ibid.in Amitava Kumar(ed. The Atlantic Monthly.Awasthi. 2. p.!993). Contemporary Indian English fiction: An Anthology of Essays (New Delhi: ABS Publications. H. MA: MIT Press.. 273 9 Randolph Bourne. 650. p.
A. Theory of Diaspora. 145. 148. The New Second Generation: Segmented Assimilation and its Variants among Post-1965 Immigrant Youth. Chetana Pokhriyal is Reader & Head. Department of English. Uttarakhand. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences 530:74-96.. Zou M. 27 Jasmine. India. 25 Two ways to Belong in America. Park and Ernest W. 30 Robert E. 29 Ibid. Mobile: +91-9412900913 E-Mail: chetanapokhriyal@yahoo. 1993.op. 28 Ibid. S.. University of Chicago Press.com . ct. Chicago. Her current areas of interests are the new literary theories like Multiculturalism. p. p. MKP (PG) College. Introduction to the Sciences of Sociology. 26 Ibid. and Cultural Studies. Burges. 737 Dr.9 24 Chetana Pokhriyal ______________________________________________________________ Porte. p..1921. Dehradun. She is an avid reader and takes interests in new inter-disciplinary approaches to literature.
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