Critical Essay on Clothes by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  3
Wordcount:  717 Words
Date:  2022-10-10


Chitra Banerjee-Divakaruni wrote the 1995 short story "Clothes". Clothes tells the story of Sumita, a young Indian woman who has an arranged marriage. The story is set in Calcutta (India), where Sumita lives with her parents and two close friends, Deepali & Rhada. Somesh Sen, her father, has found her a wonderful husband in California. Sumita travels to California with her husband and is amazed at the differences between America and India. A store called 7-eleven employs some of them.

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Sumita and Somesh currently live with their in-laws. They want to move. Others work night shifts at 7-11, earning more. A robber enters and shoots Somesh in his chest. He then dies. Sumita is from an old culture that values tradition and old values. Sumita is expected to marry in arranged marriages where her father finds the right man for her. This also shows how patriarchal such a culture is and how little women can say for themselves. The color of her clothes is a symbol of her cultural transition to America. Don't send my faraway. I wanted to weep, but I didn't. It would be ungratifying. It was something she had done, as well as her mother. The husband of a married woman is her in-laws. "(P. 173-L. 32) Although she didn't say she wanted to go to California, her father did a wonderful job of finding her a husband. She owes her father respect, and she should be grateful for the chance to marry this wonderful man she only met once.

Because she was raised with the belief that married women belong only to their husbands and families, she feels it is normal for her to be "shown off" at bride viewings. Her future man will pick her wife based on appearance. Sumita wears a light pink sari to her bride-viewing. This is a sign of luck in marriage and in transitions. This is Sumita's transition from being a girl to becoming a woman. It is an archaic culture in which women are denied the right to voice their opinions and have no right or duty to make their own choices.

Sumita has high expectations for the USA but is also anxious about her new life. Although her husband owns a 7-11, which is a terrible drugstore in real life, Sumita sees it as magical with romantic lighting and a cozy atmosphere. America is a country of opportunity, but also danger. Blue is the color I chose for my journey, it was the color of possibility and the color of the sky I would be traveling through. Mother said it must have red because red is luck for married women. (P.174-L. 88) Sumita picks a blue sari to wear on the flight because it symbolizes the color of possibility as well as the color of the sky "... through the which I would be traveling. Her parents make the final decision and Sumita wears a midnight blue with an accent of red. Sumita becomes a woman once she is in America. Somesh, her husband, purchases Sumita American clothes. She proudly puts them on and displays them in the mirror. American clothes include a matching pair jeans and a sunrise orange T-shirt that says "Great America".

Sumita realises at this point that she is an Indian young woman. Sumita has beautiful breasts, hips and curves. Sumita is now more independent than she was when she left India. However, her in-laws still make the decisions about what she wears. One night, Somesh is the victim of a robbery. The robber steals the money and shoots Somesh. Sumita now wears a plain white sari and thick voile. "White. Widows color, the colour of endings. Sumita is now a widow. She is almost fully grown.

According to her in-laws, she should return to India with them. She will be back at square one if she returns. She can be an American woman and fulfill her dream to become a teacher of girls' schools if she stays. The story ends with "She wears a blouse, skirt and hat the color of almonds." "(P. 183-L8). Almonds, brown, natural. She decides to remain in America and become an independent woman. Sumita is now an independent American woman, having gone from being a dependent Indian girl as a teenager to becoming an independent American woman.

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Critical Essay on Clothes by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. (2022, Oct 10). Retrieved from

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