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A Wife's Story by Bharati Mukherjee - Book Report/Review Example

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The essay “A Wife's Story by Bharati Mukherjee” looks at the main theme of Mukherjee's short story, which is the cultural transformation of Panna. She is an Indian woman who comes from a very traditional background whose life is being transformed by her assimilation into Western Culture…
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A Wifes Story by Bharati Mukherjee
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The Indian quality of Panna's body is described with reference to the women of her family: "My mother was beaten by her mother-in-law, my grandmother when she'd registered for French lessons at the Alliance Francaise. My grandmother, the eldest daughter of a rich zamindar, was illiterate." The three generations move further and further from Indian tradition: from illiteracy to learning French, to taking a Ph.D.; from the countryside to the city, to America. Perhaps the implied reason for the beating is the mother-in-law's fear that her son's wife was seeking out partners for adultery. In any case, Panna is committing adultery with the Hungarian Imre while she studies in New York. So her body is, as much as anything else, the agency of her change.
Panama's husband visits her in America and is desperate to take her back to India because he fears she may be drawn into adultery (though he never suspects Imre to whom he is introduced). Her realization (rather than resolution) that she will not return with him, is her break with Indian culture. While she is waiting to make love to her husband for the last time before his return to India, "The resulting sexual episodes show that the new land has transformed her unalterably as she watches her naked body in the mirror" (Abraham 37). She sees her own body in the mirror and realizes that there are elements of her sexuality her husband does not know, aspects of her own body that she does not recognize, that she is no longer part of Indian tradition. Read More
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