Clothes, by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni Essay

621 Words Nov 18th, 2012 3 Pages
Clothes, by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

This short story is about a young Indian woman named Sumita, her impending arranged marriage and subsequent trip to America, which is symbolized by the color and type of her clothes. The author utilizes color symbolism to express the emotional changes that Sumita is going through and how she uses colors to keep her grounded with her Indian beliefs during her transition from girl to bride-to-be to an Indian-American to widow. There are many examples of colors that represent established Indian beliefs and religion are mentioned throughout the story. The first reference to color is in paragraph 1, where the author writes “…make my sari float up around me, wet and yellow, like a sunflower
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Orange can represent an energy or enthusiasm, which can bring about the willingness to embrace new ideas with enjoyment and a sense of exploration, as Sumita now attempts to “Americanize” herself with her jeans and orange tee shirt and later with her “cream-and-brown skirt set (color of earth, color of seeds)” (269). The new thoughts about being a working woman in America in her husband’s store are reflected in the earthy colors, which symbolize something new planted, as she is newly planted in America, trying to grow. After Somesh is killed in a robbery, Sumita is dressed in a borrowed “White (sari). Widow’s color, color of endings” (271) and attending the bangle-breaking ceremony. Whereas, white is the color used in the west for brides and weddings signifying purity, white is the color of mourning and death in the east. The green or red bangle, which in the Hindu religion symbolizes safety and a happy, prosperous and long married life, is required to be worn by married women. As part of the mourning ceremony, the glass bangles are smashed, “so that the glass bangles I was wearing shattered and multicolored shards flew out in every direction (271).

Color and color combinations are very important to many cultures and have been for centuries, reflecting their specific beliefs and meanings. Divakaruni used colors of clothing to signify and compare monumental
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