Circularity and Nonlinear Narrative in 'Jasmine' College

In the 1989 novel Jasmine, Bharati Mukherjee tells the story of Jasmine, an American immigrant from India who experiences life through a wide range of identities denoted by different versions of her name. Her different relationships and experiences make readers question what it actually means to be an American. In Jasmine, Mukherjee interrogates the American immigrant experience through her emphasis on Hindu ideology, most specifically reincarnation. Despite presenting these Eastern philosophies in juxtaposition with Western philosophies, Mukherjee rejects binary opposition through the novel’s form and emphasizing multiplicity of identity in the main character Jasmine.

The nonlinear format of the novel adds to its mythology and reflects that life and death are not viewed as opposites, but as parts of the cycle of reincarnation. Generally, Western novels tend to be written linearly and chronologically. Instead, Mukherjee writes Jasmine’s story in a circular way rather than a standard linear story, which adds to the Hindu traditions emphasized within the actual content of the novel. The beginning and end of the novel are very different; however, they remain connected through a thread that Mukherjee weaves throughout: the image of...

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