Analysis of “A Wife’s Story” by Bharati Mukherjee

This is a literary analysis of Bharati Mukherjee’s "A Wife’s Story".

Bharati Mukherjee, 1940- A Wife’s Story

I change out of the cotton pants and shirt I’ve been wearing all day and put on a sari to meet my husband at JFK. I don’t forget the jewellery; the necklace of mangalsutra, gold drop earrings, heavy gold bangles. I don’t wear them every day. In this borough of vice and greed who knows when, or whom, desire will overcome [...] He looks disconcerted. He’s used to a different role. He’s the knowing suspicious one in the family. He seems to be sulking [...] I can’t help the other things, necessities until he learns the ropes. I handle the money, buy the tickets.

This paragraph, also from Bharati Mukherjee’s A Wife’s Story, is significant as it shows clashing cultures. This can first be seen when the woman changes out of the “cotton pants and shirt” that she had been wearing all day and put on her “sari” as well as all the jewellery that she does not wear every day. It seems as though she is now more a part of North American culture and has adopted these practices, but when going to meet her husband she must turn back to more traditional Indian ways that he would expect and want.  However, although she dresses in the traditional Indian way it is clear that her outward appearance no longer matches her inward one. This is illustrated through their role reversals which create a shift in power. America, and their ways, become an other for her husband as he’s “used to a different role”.  His wife now has the power, which is opposite of her traditional Indian role, since she is the one with more experience and knowledge of American culture so she “handle[s] the money” and “buy[s] the tickets.”

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