Jasmine's Transformation

Immigrants almost inevitably face immense challenges pursuing the American Dream--socially, economically, perhaps even internally. Such struggles are evident in the novel "Jasmine," Bharati Mukherjee's richly descriptive and emotionally powerful novel about a young immigrant woman. Mukherjee vividly brings to life the theme of rebirth in "Jasmine" through the use of multiple international settings and characterizations, following a young girl from her Indian childhood through her American twenties as she seeks an identity she truly believes is her own.

Mukherjee introduces the foundation for Jasmine's metamorphoses within the first few pages, as young Jyoti visits an astrologer in her native India. Told by the old man that her future holds great sadness and turmoil, the seven-year-old protests indignantly – then falls as she runs away and cuts her forehead. The astrologer's ominous predictions would frighten most children, but Jyoti does not flee in fright; rather, she refuses to believe such a fate awaits her, and instead, creates the hope of a better outcome for herself. Indeed, there is an immediate sense that this young girl's wisdom exceeds her age. "It's not a scar," Jyoti shouts to her taunting sisters, "it's my...

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