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Clothes by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Essay by   •  March 22, 2011  •  Book/Movie Report  •  968 Words (4 Pages)  •  3,186 Views

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The short store “Clothes” by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is about a young Indian woman, Sumita, and her cultural transition to America that is symbolized by her clothes and the color of her clothes. The traditional Indian attire for a woman is a sari and each one has its own purpose. Her clothes also indicate her progression from daughter, to wife, to woman.

The story starts off with the bride to be in a yellow sari preparing to meet her future husband by bathing in a lake. She describes the yellow sari as a sunflower after rain. Yellow here could possible signify new times to come or peace. The bath she was taking is relaxing her to the idea that she is about to marry a man she has not even met, as well as the thought of losing her family.

Next, Sumita is dressed for her bride-viewing in a light pink sari which signifies marriage, luck and possibility. This sari not only shows her faith towards her heritage but it also denotes their family wealth. [talk about Indian family wealth and how it applies to arranged marrages] Light pink also signifies the color of transition. Her transition in this section is from daughter to wife. By wearing this pink sari she would surely be chosen as Somesh wife.

Once chosen as the perfect wife Sumita has to take a plane ride to the United States. Sumita chose to wear a blue sari because to her it represented the color of possibility and it also matched the color of the sky to which she was traveling in. Her mother on the other hand wanted to wear red. Red in her belief is supposed to give luck to married women. [married women in India, their responsibilities] They compromised and found one that was blue with red trim to satisfy both arguments.

Once in America you see that Sumita is now starting to transition from wife to woman. Her husband buys her American clothes and she proudly tries them on and shows them of in the mirror for him. One of the pieces is a T-shirt that is the color of sunrise orange. To her this signifies the color of joy and her new American life. You can see that she is now deciding this on her own without her tradition or beliefs getting in the way. [talk about Indian tradition and beliefs about Indian women becoming Americanized]

In some countries white signifies purity and cleanliness. In others it is the color of royalty or deities. Sumita’s husband owns a 7-11 store in California. He is constantly having to work the night shift to try to earn extra money so that they can move out on their own. One night he is held at gun point and shot to death. To mourn his death Sumita wears a white sari.

During the mourning of his death they perform a bangle breaking ceremony. [talk about the ceremony and what It means] They break the bangles that are on Sumita’s arm and send multi-colored shards flying all over the room and on the sheet that her husband lies under. The multi-colored shards might represent the fact that right now her life has shattered like the bracelets and she is scattered in a place that she is not familier with.

You can now tell that Sumita has become pretty Americanized



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