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The Management of Grief by Bharati Mukherjee
Transcript of The Management of Grief by Bharati Mukherjee
The Management of Grief by Bharati Mukherjee
About the Author
Bharati Mukherjee was born on July 27, 1940, to an upper-middle class Hindu Brahmin family in Calcutta, India.
The story is based an actual event that had occurred during June 23, 1985, the Sikh terrorist bombing of an Air India plane which had killed all 329 passengers and crew. The narrator, Shaila Bhave, a Candian Hindu, emphasizes on her grief over her loss of her husband and her two sons. She spends her time with her fellow Hindu widow, Kusum, six of their "relatives" and four widowers. They share the different backgrounds of the people whom they just lost with each other. Adding the fact that the bodies of her husband and sons weren't found yet.
There was a time where she saw the ghost of her husband in an abandoned temple in a tiny Himalayan Village, telling her to "finish alone what they started together" The other people who have lost their loved ones in the bombing are trying their best to move on, as well. The short story concludes Bhave starting a new voyage without her family. She doesn't know when this said trip will end, and what direction she would take... but she started walking.
The second of three daughters of Sudhir Lal, a chemist, and Bina (Banerjee) Mukherjee, she lived with 40 or 50 relatives until the age of eight. Born into an extraordinarily close-knit and intelligent family, Mukherjee and her sisters were always given ample academic opportunities, and thus have all pursued academic endeavors in their careers and have had the opportunity to receive excellent schooling.
Mukherjee is currently a Distinguished Professor of English at the University of California-Berkeley. Her husband, with whom she shares a "literary marriage," teaches at the University of Iowa and they have two sons together, Bart Anand and Bernard Sudhir.
• Desirable Daughters (2002)
• The Holder of the World (1993)
• Jasmine (1989)
• The Middleman and Other Stories (1988)
• "Immigrant Writing: Give Us Your Maximalists!" New York Times Book Review (28 August 1988), 28-29.
• The Sorrow and the Terror: The Haunting Legacy of the Air India Tragedy, with Clark Blaise (1987)
• Days and Nights in Calcutta, with Clark Blaise (1986)
• Darkness (1985)
• Wife (1975)
• The Tiger's Daughter (1971)
It has been said that “The Management of Grief” is Bharati Mukherjee’s “tribute to all who forget enough of their roots to start over enthusiastically in a new land, but who also remember enough of their roots to survive fate’s knockout punches.
Her grief shows who Shaila Bhave is, was and will be.
It is also about the clash of multiculturalism
- the culture of India far from in Canada
- saying Canada will bring them a better life
- central intelligence point of view
- She never spoke of her husband's name or told him she loved him.
- steps in managing grief; pass through rejection, depression, acceptance and reconstruction
- historically related
- people think shaila is a tong and brave woman but actually she felt
terrible on the inside
- her final duty was to study, it was sign of moving on
- Dr. Ranganathan, Pam, they kind off lost contact but they had moved on with their lives.
the part when she says "but i have other things to float..." --
it symbolizes her love for her family
There is a symbolism of roses meaning remembrance and love
Literary Styles and Techniques
Figures of Speech
narrative style (first person narration)
irony - shaila is able to voice out what had been silent for so long.
"i have never said my husband name...my feelings for him"
it shows that she does not give out her love to him but in the former part she
can finally show.
The unknown future generation, this also relates to multiculturalism. Wherein they are brainwashed that the west will always be better. In fact we should acknowledge our roots to where we came from.
And she also thinks of the future in a wider path and that continuing her studies is a key to a better life.
Simile - "I am too old...between worlds"
Where she is compromising a personality between of both worlds and she also struggles between two modes of knowledge.
The tension of cultures that her husband mentioned an
irony - "complete...politicize the Indian voter"
That they have thought they could get away from the problems of their own country by going out of another country.
Stages to pass in the "textbooks" on grief management"
If you analyze closely the story and read not just with your mind, but with your heart, you can concur that Shaila Bhave has been struggling and trying her best to still stand straight even though her whole being, her reason of living, has been instantly crushed in the blink of an eye. The fact that her bravery and her courage to not let that event in her life drag her down but instead, still move forward towards the future, goes to show how amazing of a woman she is. She was able hide the fact that she was grieving and longing for her family as all the other widows and widowers.
Theme: Grievance, "The four stages"
“…and at the preacher in his blue robe with his beautiful white hair, the potted palm trees under a blue sky…” - visual imagery
“…and their screams insulted me, like headphones “ - simile
“Why does God give us so much if all along He intends to take it away?” -
“She wears a blue suit with a white blouse and a polka dot tie. Her blond hair is cut short, her only jewelry is pearl drop earrings. Her briefcase is new and expensive looking, a gleaming cordovan leather “ - visual imagery
“Relief spins me lightheaded” - personification
“God provides and God takes away” - anaphora
This selection is very much connected to what is happening in our generation. Take for example, the part about Pam having a Western mindset and the feeling of grief and sadness. Also, she talks about healing, which most people really need because in life, we will eventually have to move on and go with the flow. We cannot squander crying all day. We have to be strong even if the strongest blows hit us.