Identify Jasmine’s transformations
Identify and discuss instances of female oppression in India
Students will keep a journal for Jasmine. They will chronicle Jasmine’s life according to her name changes. How are they significant?
The protagonist of this novel undergoes several changes during the course of her short life. When the novel opens “Jasmine” is living in Iowa. At age twenty-four she is the unlikely companion of a middle-aged man and adoptive mother to a Vietnamese teenager. Jasmine recounts important events in her life retrospectively. She shares the events of her birth in a small village in Punjab and her eventual widowhood and exile from her native land. She was born Jyoti and is renamed Jasmine by her husband in India. His eventual death brings her to the United States where she lives in Florida, New York and eventually Iowa. For each phase of her life Jasmine is renamed. She does not choose what she will be called at any point. The novel chronicles her life according to her names. The novels main theme is Jasmine’s perpetual self-reinvention. She actively integrates American society with her Hindu heritage and past. She never questions or condemns the life she led prior to coming to the United States. She manifests much of the detachedness of the members of the Joy Luck Club but perhaps due to her youth she appears to be more successful with the change.
Jasmine appears to have an understanding of both cultures.
“If I had been a boy, my birth in a bountiful year would have marked me as luck, a child with a special destiny to fulfill. But Daughters were curses. A daughter had to be married off before she could enter heaven, and dowries beggared families for generation. Gods with infinite memories visited girl children on women who needed to be punished for sins committed in other incarnations. My mother’s past must have been heavy with wrong. I was the fifth daughter, the seventh of nine children. When the midwife carried me out, my sisters tell me; I had a ruby-red choker of a bruise around my throat and sapphire fingerprints on my collarbone. When I revealed this to Taylor’s wife, Wylie- I was their undocumented “caregiver” during my hears in Manhattan-she missed the point and shrieked at my “foremothers.” Listing to Wylie I thought I understood the philosophy behind Agent Orange. Wylie would overkill. My mother was a sniper. She wanted to spare me the pain of a dowry less bride. My mother wanted a happy life for me. I survived the sniping. My grandmother may have named me Jyoti, Light, but in surviving I was already Jane, a fighter and adapter. “
Jasmine’s frank acceptance and total understanding of her mother’s motives present the reader with interesting perspective. She is living in contemporary America with an understanding for her mother’s motives. Jasmine understands her strength and her situation. Throughout the novel the reader is presented with Jasmine’s understanding of her native Punjab and practices against the backdrop of American values and understanding.