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Depiction Of Plights Of First Generation And Second Generation Immigrants in Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s Works

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Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni in her work gives much focus on the immigrant experience and on the South Asian Women. In her novels, she injected the theme of alienation and rootlessness of the dislocated immigrants from their native homeland. Her works are mostly set in the Indian and American background. She represents desires, hopes, expectations, dreams, and the promise of the immigrants living in the twentieth century America.

Selva Mari in her article writes about Divakaruni’s writings as “Divakaruni is not just a voice among the Diasporic writers of the time, but an author infusing the essence of multiculturalism in her writing, and she blends beautifully her Indian heritage and her immigrant encounters of isolation and approval. The land of America is considered to be the land of opportunities and multi-culture. It serves as a venue for migrated people in gratifying better life and economic condition. Even though immigrants moved to the host land with a lot of dreams carries with them the identity and culture of their origin land. Immigrant writers even though they are settled in far-off countries their love for their native country remains deep-rooted. Gurudev Meher highlights Deluze and Guattari’s comparison of home and host land experience of diaspora with root and rhizome “A new rhizome may form in the heart of a tree, the hollow of a root, the crook of a branch or else it is a microscopic element of the root tree, a radical, that gets rhizome production going”. The attitude reflected in her novels on her native country is filled with positivity and hope she has for her homeland. She depicts her pride and compassion for her homeland by presenting its rich life, folklore, proverbs, myths, song, and stories in her writings. Immigrant people are troubled by their memory of pain, dispossession, and trauma.

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The effect of immigration puts the immigrants in the dilemma of facing multiple cultural conflict and hybridism. Bharathi Mukherjee in an interview states: We have experienced rapid changes in the history of the nations in which we lived when we uproot ourselves from those countries and come here, either by choice or out of necessity, we suddenly must absorb two hundred years of American history and learn to adapt American society. Our lives are remarkable often heroic. Immigrants are the people who were moved from their native country and settled in the new country for various purposes. People who are living as an immigrant in a host country usually face lots of hurdles in their new life. They usually oscillate between the homeland and host land for their identity, habits, customs, gender, culture, and politics. Immigrant people face problem to adjust, adapt, assimilate, and integrate with the new way of life. Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, in her novels, depicts different facets of immigrant ship experienced by the various generations of immigrants. She has vividly presented the variations faced by the first generation immigrants and second generation immigrants in dealing with the complexities of immigrant life. “The notion of home is not a fixed entity and it depends upon the individuals struggle in both internal and external world and the kind of territory in which she lives.” The first generation diasporic sensibility comprises a strong nostalgic re-enactment of home which seven Vertovec defines as ” Diaspora consciousness” that is “marked by dual or multiple identifications . The second generation shared a “transnational consciousness’ rather than diasporic because they are not rigidly fixated in a singular space of identification or experienced major traumatic dispersion and helped effect an inclined effect an inclined movement towards a transnational identity formation. Hence, the second generation immigrant challenges the essentializing properties of home and identity and maintains little or no attachment to any place choosing to the global nomads transcending the constricted nationalist space…Quotes Homi Bhabha’s Location of Culture: “It is the space of intervention emerging in the cultural interstices that introduce creative invention into existence”

This chapter focuses on the similarities and differences seen in the experience of immigration between first-generation immigrants and second generation immigrants. Felcita Mary prabha while explaining the variations found between first generation and second generation immigrants quotes the lines of Keya Ganguly: For the first generation of migrants, life in the new country may frequently turn out to be one fraught with misunderstandings, discrimination and the day – to day business of recreating one’s culture in an unwelcoming atmosphere. The second generation migrants or those who were taken abroad at a young age have no difficulty in adapting to the host culture but they are obliged to navigate between two traditions an unenviable position, which can cause distress and feelings of guilt or disloyalty. She further adds ideas of Jana Evans Braziel and Anita Mannur as “First, diaspora forces us to rethink the rubrics of nation and nationalism, while refiguring the relations of citizens and nation- states. Second, diaspora often myriad, dislocated sites of contestation to the hegemonic, homogenizing forces of globalization. First generation immigrants initially face lots of difficulties in confronting with home and the foreign culture. In the beginning, they used to be fearful because of being noticed by the natives of America but later they will capable enough in accept the circumstances.

The first generation immigrant parents are left in a dilemma whether to tell them about India or not. Citra Banerjee Divakaruni has projected both the cases in her novels. For example in the novel Queen of Dreams Rakhi’s mother didn’t want her daughter to know about India because, she doesn’t want her daughter to suffer out of the feelings of separation, uprootedness, and nostalgia. She avoided all the subjects which lead to her Indian past. She wants to bring up her daughter as an American by shunning their past. Mrs. Gupta says: I thought it would protect you if I didn’t talk about the past. That way you wouldn’t be constantly looking back, hankering, like so many immigrants do. I didn’t want to be like those other mothers, splitting you between here and there, between your life right now and that which can never be. Such parents think that they are securing their children from craving for the past and securing from the haunting memories of the unattainable past. But at last, she herself regrets her actions and says I See now that I brought you up wrong. I thought it would protect you if I didn’t talk about the past…But by not telling you about India as it really was, I made it into something far bigger. It crowded other things out of your mind. It pressed upon your brain like a tumor. Bela in Before We Visit the goddess exactly behaves like Mrs. Gupta in bringing up her daughter Tara by hiding about the past. In another extreme, some first-generation immigrant parents want to bring up their children based on the Indian culture. They often remind their children of their origin. They want to bring up their children as an Indian. Jespal parents in the novel Queen of Dreams is the best example for such first-generation immigrant parents.

East or west, home is the best as per the proverb first generation immigrants always considers their home as a paradise. Rakhi in Queen of dreams puts it as: Belle had told me that her parents – and the parents of the other desis she knew- loved to go on and on about India, which in their opinion was as close to paradise as you get. Everyone in the world wants to live and leave their own identity. Creating an identity of oneself requires lots of skills. People living in the host land suffer strive for their identity. The experience of identity crisis varies from first-generation immigrant and second-generation immigrant. “The protagonist of Queen of Dreams, Rakhi is a second generation immigrant. She is confident enough to live her life alone and on her own terms without any dependence. She breaks her marital bond and moves ahead in life. However, she cannot completely detach herself from her husband even after divorce because of their mutual interest, their daughter Jona, who still loves and likes the company of her father. Sometimes Rakhi longs for manly love and care. Divorce affects Rakhi economically and emotionally. However, she overcomes this loss with time but initially, it also brings a crisis in her identity.” The first generation had lived in their native they knew very well about their homeland, its culture, and its practices. Second generation immigrant had never been to the native place.

Things they knew about their native are only through stories they heard and by browsing. They have the idea about their homeland only through fascinating the home which highly distanced from the reality. Rakhi says: I would have preferred the stories to have come from my mother and to have been set in India, where she grew up, a land that seemed to me to be shaded with the unending mystery.


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