Clothes and Saving Sourdi

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Arranged Lives

America is still the Promised Land to millions of immigrants. They are from all over the world and do everything to make their way to the United States of America. Nonetheless, once in the USA, the immigrants experience a process of Americanization or the adoption of the American values and customs for the goal of becoming a member of the U.S.A. international mosaic. Most of these immigrants have difficulty integrating into the U.S. society because their own cultural baggage, frames of references and convictions do prevent them from effectively taking on the new culture. The two stories, "Saving Sourdi" by May-Lee Chai and “Clothes” by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, are about becoming Americanized through women’s rights and arranged marriages.

In the story, “Clothes” by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, after the death of her husband, Sumita faces the choice of either staying in California or returning to India to live with her relatives or in-laws. She understands that life in India is probably not something that she wants to have because the widows there are viewed by her as “doves with cutoff wings” (Chai 273), incapable of enjoying their lives to the fullest. It is for this reason; she chooses to pursue her own dream of living in America. She could face financial problems and racism. She also realizes that the females whose lives have been arranged and controlled by relatives do not face such matters. She learns how to become mature and independent, because of Somesh and now he is gone. Sumita says, “Air fills me-the same air that traveled through Somesh’s lungs a little while ago” (Chai 273). The reader can tell she is grieving just by reading this sentence. It is extremely difficult for her to change her way of thinking.

The story, “Saving Sourdi” by May-Lee Chai, is also quite similar in terms of dealing with the females who do not choose their husbands. Sourdi marries an older man, Mr. Chhay, through an arranged marriage...
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