Three Immigrant Types in Mukherjee's Jasmine
The complex journey of immigration and the hardships immigrants undergo are common themes in Bharati Mukherjee's writings. The author, an immigrant herself, tries to show the darker side of immigration, especially for Hindu women, that is not often portrayed in other immigrant narratives. In the novel, Jasmine Mukhedee uses three types of immigrants to show how different the hardships of adhering to life in an adopted country can be. Her main immigrant characters fall mainly into three categories: the refugee, the hyphenated immigrant, and the chameleon. The refugee immigrant type is seen in Jasmine's father, Pitaji and in the Proffessodi and his wife, Nirmala. The character Du is representative of the hyphenated immigrant, and the chameleon immigrant type is that of the main character of the novel, Jasmine. By discussing the various types of immigrants the author has portrayed in the novel and the importance of names for each type, with an emphasis on the main character, Jasmine, the immigrant experience will be seen not as a generic journey that is similar for all people, but is instead a profoundly personal affair that is affected by that person's past life experiences and beliefs. The first type of immigrant, the refugee, is characterized by a longing for the homeland. Mukherjee explains the difference between an immigrant writer and an immigrant/refugee writer by showing the contrasts between herself and another Indian writer, V.S. Naipaul:
Naipaul, who was born in Trinidad because his relatives left India involuntarily to settle there, has different attitudes about himself. He writes about living in perpetual exile and about the impossibility of ever having a home...
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...elves constantly reinventing themselves in order to adapt to' their changing world. By showing how immigrants survive in unique ways, Mukherjee is able to throw of the concept of the generic immigrant and instead shows immigrants for what they truly are: individual people who cope the best they can with the new environment thrust upon them.
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