Clothes, by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
This short story is about a young Indian woman named Sumita, her impending arranged marriage and subsequent trip to America, which is symbolized by the color and type of her clothes. The author utilizes color symbolism to express the emotional changes that Sumita is going through and how she uses colors to keep her grounded with her Indian beliefs during her transition from girl to bride-to-be to an Indian-American to widow. There are many examples of colors that represent established Indian beliefs and religion are mentioned throughout the story. The first reference to color is in paragraph 1, where the author writes “…make my sari float up around me, wet and yellow, like a sunflower after rain” (265). The color yellow symbolizes sanctity or innocence, such as being a child or young woman. Even though Sumita is going to be married, she is still the child of innocence until she actually crosses that bridge. The next color reference is when Sumita’s father shows her the sari that she’ll be wearing when she meets her fiancé for the first time, “Its body was a pale pink, like the dawn sky over the women’s lake” (267). The color pink is associated with sexuality and purity - that is, a girl who is a virgin in heart and body. After the wedding ceremony, Sumita is on the airplane, flying to her new home in the United States to meet up with her new husband, Somesh, who had to return back to his business. Before
she left home, a discussion with her mother about what color she should wear for her flight – “I wanted a blue one for the journey, because blue is the color of possibility, the color of the sky through which I would be traveling. But Mother said there must be red in it because red is the color of luck for married women. Finally, Father found one to satisfy us both: midnight-blue with a thin red border” (267). The author explains the meaning of the colors in the dialogue between mother and...
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