Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Jasmine's Search for the Real Life

In Bharati Mukherjee’s novel Jasmine, the title character seems to constantly be plagued by a longing for the “real life” that her husband Prakesh attempts to describes to her.  As a young girl, an astrologer foretells that Jyoti is destined for widowhood and exile, and after the death of her father brings a similar fate to her mother, this prediction seems increasingly likely. She seems to beat these odds upon marrying Prakesh, who dreams of more than the life that they have for themselves in their small town in India, and hopes that Jasmine will join him in this pursuit of something more. Perplexed, Jasmine wonders: “What is this real life? I have a real life” (Mukherjee 81). After being raised to expect nothing more than the life she was currently living, Prakesh begins to convince Jasmine that she deserves more than she is destined for. While this may be true, Jasmine becomes lost in the search for this real life after Prakesh’s death, leading to a persistent restlessness that follows her around the United States. In Queens with Professorji, she is greatly disappointed with the America that she finds, and seems to find credence with Professorji’s complaint that “America was killing him,” as she feels similarly because the reality of life in the states cannot possibly match the high expectations that Prakesh’s “real life” carried (146). The circumstances provoked by hardships in Iowa similarly depress Jane. This story strikes a comparison between expectation and reality, and how our own expectations can impact how we experience the life that we are living in the moment. In this scenario, the title character’s high hopes actually impact her real life experiences negatively, as she is often unable to enjoy living in the United States, despite the fact that it represents an escape from the life of an exiled widow that she was destined to live in India.

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