Jasmine by Bharati Mukherjee: Duty and Desire

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Duty and Desire
People could not live without desires for their life. To have a happy life, first of all it has to be desired. There is another aspect of life that opposite desire, duty. Both of them create life. Jasmine is the main character of the same name novel of Bharati Mukherjee who struggle about what she should act to, desire or duty. She was born in a very traditional culture that supports duty while she really want to live a life that she can choose. The story begins with the appearance of an astrologer. The symbol of astrologer gives readers the idea that future is settled. The old astrologer who can guess the future, or can tell what is the duty, or fate, of the young girl, Jasmine. Although this is the words of the astrologer, Jasmine does not accept the future that he tells her. “No! You’re a crazy old man. You don’t know what my future holds (Mukherjee 3)!”In the deep of her heart, Jasmine knows the man said the truth. The young Jasmine, due to her religious and cultural mindset, has been taught to believe in predestination. She knows, ‘‘Bad times were on their way. I was helpless, doomed (Mukherjee 4).’’ Outwardly, however, she whispers to the astrologer, "I don't believe you (Mukherjee 4)." That she whispers—rather than says, or states, or shouts—indicates the tentativeness of Jasmine's position as an agent of change. The astrologer plays an all-important role in the novel: he is there, under the banyan tree, as the story opens, and he is there, in Jasmine's thoughts, as the novels ends. Jasmine has been raised by Dida, her grandmother, firmly believes in duty. She is the one who affects Jasmine’s mindset. Dida knows that a girl must marry, that she must bear a son. It is the family's burden, their duty, to ensure that the girl find a husband. Her pronouncement that, "Some women think they own the world because their husbands are too lazy to beat them (Mukherjee 47)’’ demonstrates her belief that woman cannot be the performers of this society....
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