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Clothes Essay

In: English and Literature

Submitted By josephinefisker
Words 800
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Clothes essay

The short story “Clothes” by Chita Banerjee Divakaruni is about a girl from India, and her cultural transition from India to America, which is symbolized through her clothes. The story is about doing something unexpected? and not knowing what the future is going to bring.

The main character is Sumita; she is a well-behaved young woman. She only does what is expected of her, for example she agrees to marry Somesh even though she doesn’t know him and she lets Somesh touch her the very first time the night they spend together even though she doesn’t want to. She never questions her parent’s decisions; she is just greatful for the opportunities she has been given.

She will leave her friends, family and former life behind, and travel to a new country, and from that can we see she is a very considerate person.
You sense right from the start, that she is girl who loves her family and friends. She values her family’s honor, for example she is against the arranged marriage, but she won’t disrespect her father and the effort he had put into finding her a suitable match. We also see a big consideration from her side, when her friend was turned down three times. Sumita doesn’t rebel against her family, she just goes along with the decisions. The author utilizes color symbolism to express the emotional changes Sumita is going through. The clothes represent both cultures; at first she uses the colors through her Sari’s to keep her connected to her Indian Beliefs. You see the color goes from being effervescent to being dark.

The main theme in this story, Is cultural differences. You see a big difference between the Indian heritages and the American. The transition from the Indian culture to the American is a big part of the story. The traditional Indian attire for a woman is a Sari and each sari has its own purpose. The clothes she is wearing indicate her transition from girl to woman. In the beginning of the story is Sumita wearing a yellow sari, which should indicate sunflower after rain. Yellow could maybe signify the future and yellow might have the purpose to relax her and make her think of something peaceful, as she is about to marry a man she has not even met. When Sumita is dressed for her bride viewing is she dressed in a light pink sari which signifies luck, possibilities and marriage, pink is also the color of transition and by wearing the pink sari, does she signify a transition from girl to woman. “Its body was a pale pink, like the dawn sky over the woman’s lake”. The quote and the color pink could be associated with her sexuality.

The sari she is wearing shows her family’s wealth and heritages. When Sumita is on the plane to America, is she wearing a sari there is red with blue threads embroidered. The red indicates good luck to her marriage and blue as the sky, as in her being free. The clothes she is wearing have a strong connection to her liberation. When she is wearing the clothes her husband brought for her, she feels like she is in the middle of a conspiracy, it’s like she has a sexuality she isn’t allowed to have. The clothes he brought reminded her of an almond, brown and white. The almond refers to her innocent, which she is rebels against. The clothes Somesh brought her symbolize emancipation. The conspiracy drags her to make her own decisions.

The two countries we are being introduced to have cultural differences. People have different points on how to live life and which things they should value. The values in Sumita’s home country are having focus on the family. In America everything is much more materialized. The materialization have left her emotional unfulfilled. She is at the same time dragged to the cultural values in America and the liberation, as in saying the things she have on her mind. Another big deference is the family relations, the Indians are very much family orientated, while in America is the people individual orientated. When Sumita were in India, was she together with her family, and her family decided all the decisions. In America is the decisions made by her, her husband only encourages her. In India is the more committed to her family than to herself. The Americans have much more self-reliance and independence. The Americans think first off all of themselves, they are much more goal seeking beyond the Indians.

You can conclude there is a lot of cultural differences, and it is difficult to accommodate, when you are used to prioritize your values differently. The story takes us on a journey, where a girl becomes a woman.

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