Independence In Jasmine Essay, Research Paper
2/25/01 A period
Women in Literature
INDEPENDENCE OF JASMINE
Independence is one topic that is very important in Jasmine. The main character, Jyoti has to always deal with independence all her life. From the
time she is in India to the time she is in the United States, she has never
strived for independence; it always seems to come to her.
As a young girl in Hasnapur, India Jyoti was born into a poor
Hindi family that lost everything during the partition, and as a result has
been left with a mud hut and farmland in the Punjabi countryside of
Northern India. Jyoti is raised in a poor home where she is taught to
cook, clean and look up to the males in her society. As a young girl Jyoti
is not influenced to be independent. Like every girl in the village she is
expected to receive a little bit of education and then go back to her home and
get ready to be married off.
Fortunately a teacher named Masterji saw talent
in Jyoti and begged her father to let her continue with her education.
When Jasmine agrees to continue her education and says she wants to be a
doctor and open her own clinic, her father was in complete shock as well as
her grandma. Her father?s instant reaction was, ?The girl is mad! The girl is
When she is asked about continuing her education, it is the first time
in her life where she is given any type of independence. Continuing her
education would mean that she wouldn?t have to be dependent on any man?s
well being. Although it is good that she will have a future and will continue
to be educated, Jyoti is still mentally attached to the sexist ways of her
culture. She still marries and falls in love with men, by looking up at them
and honoring their ways. Jyoti had no honor for herself and what she
could do independently. It was all about the males in her life and their
greatness, because in her society the powerful people were males.
Jyoti?s marriage to a man named Prakash is a big example of her lack
of independence. She never got engaged to Prakash. She married Prakash
after knowing him for only a couple of weeks. Although her marriage to
Prakash was common in her society, Prakash wasn?t a common Indian. She
was lucky to be married to Prakash. Her marriage to Prakash was the second
time in her life that independence came to her. Prakash was against the
feudal system of Hasnapur (the town in which they lived). By being married
to Prakash Jyoti didn?t need to be a humble wife, like all the other women in
her society. She again experienced independence. The independence to call
her husband by his first name and to talk to him in any way she pleased.
Prakash even gave her a new name, Jasmine.
Independence to continue education and now independence to do as
she pleases in marriage, Jyoti, now Jasmine was a lucky woman who even
argued with her husband at times. She did not strive for independence, it just
came to her.
When her husband argued with her it was because he wanted
her to think freely, while she wanted to be a scared, humble, dependent wife.
For example, once Jasmine was arguing about having a child, which was a
way for to become the typical housewife of her society. Prakash?s response
was not one common in the feudal society they lived in. His response was,
?We aren?t going to spawn! We aren?t ignorant peasants?.
Prakash gave Jasmine freedom of speech and the skills to be
strong and not afraid to speak her mind. Prakash always told her to challenge
him and keep arguing with him. He did not punish her when she argued him.
He gave her the skills and self-confidence to argue to a man, those skills will
open doors for her.
Prakash gave Jasmine courage and told her that they would move to
America. Prakash had a scholarship to the US and on the last day when he
was preparing to go to the states, work and then send back for Jasmine, he
died. The religious conflicts of Northern India killed him as well as Masterji.
Prakash died because of a bomb that was put in their home by a person
against Hindus. Earlier in her life Jasmine had lost her father due to a bull.
Her father cared for her and was her future. After losing her father she lost
Masterji, a Sikh who taught her all her life and motivated her to continue her
studies. Masterji was harassed and killed by anti-Sikhs. Now she has lost
another teacher, her husband.
As a widow, Jasmine returned to live with her mother in a widow?s
hut and has to listen to her widowed grandma tell her that what happened to
her husband was a punishment from God, because they weren?t a traditional
couple. Jasmine has now lost all the people who gave her independence and
taught her to be independent. She remembered that Prakash wanted for the
both of them to go to America and live real lives with money and freedom.
Jasmine decided to use the independence she was given and asked her
brothers to help her use the Visa her husband had and to arrange for her a
trip to America. Now, she is being independent and doesn?t rely on men to
supply it for her.
Jasmine immigrated illegally to America. She lost her independence
after traveling a long way illegally in old planes and broken down ships. Her
final destination was the Florida Keys, where a man brought her in
America illegally and then raped her as a payment to him for bringing her in
to the states. After being forcibly raped, Jasmine killed the man and then
went out to try to find Tampa University where Prakash and her were
supposed to be. As a religious act, her intention was to burn Prakash?s
belongings at the University because it was where he?d want to be. At this
time she was raped and lost. Fortunately a woman picked her up from the
streets and took her in to her home. The woman empowered her again,
helping her gain back Independence.
At the woman?s house, Jasmine is kept from INS. Jasmine tells the
lady, Lillian that she has a friend in New York, Prakash?s former teacher
who had helped Prakash reach the states. By then she had gained back the
independence to move on. As a widow, Jasmine uses her independence to
find Prakash?s former teacher, Professorji in New York. Fortunately she
found Professorji and he helped her to have a safe shelter in an Indian
community in New York. With the help of Professorji she was about to get a
false green card, but that meant selling her hair, so she took matters into her
own hands and called Kate, Lillian?s daughter.
Kate helped Jasmine find a family to take care of her, this helped
Jasmine becomes American and gains all the skills she would need to be
American. Later on Jasmine moved to Iowa and fell in love with a middle
aged banker, Bud. Jasmine then became Jane, and was living with a middle
aged Iowan. She had taken the Independence she was given and used it to
live her life. Jane was now American, with an American husband and
pregnant with an American, her and Bud also adopted a Vietnamese child
whom she soon had to let go of.
To Jane independence was something that came to her. As a young
girl she was lucky to be embraced with courage and independence. The
Independence that Prakash gave her, stuck with her and made her confident
and strong. It made her believe in herself and take matters into her hands.
Prakash allowed her to have no fear of men and that helped her come to
America and live a happy life with Bud.
Independence is an important topic in Jasmine, the main character,
Jane got her independence from many people, which helped her to build a
better life for herself. Without independence Jane would not have lived a
good life as a widow in Hasnapur, where she would live alone and in
poverty all her life.
Mukherjee, Bharati. Jasmine. New York:First Edition,1989