Arranged Marriage Essay
In the book, Arranged Marriage, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni depicts how various women are treated in India’s arranged marriages today. The short story, “Clothes,” shows an Indian woman content with her life, living with her husband in America. Mita was lucky with her arranged marriage, as her husband treated her like a queen. Somesh is kind to Mita, buying her American clothes and encouraging her to strive with these new opportunities given to her, like going to college: “But first he wants me to start college. Get a degree, perhaps in teaching.
I picture myself in front of a classroom of girls with blond pigtails and blue uniforms, like a scene out of an English movie I saw long ago in Calcutta. They raise their hands respectfully when I ask a question. ‘Do you really think I can? ’ I ask. ‘Of course,” he replies. I am gratified he has such confidence in me” (Divakaruni 27). Somesh is an amazing husband, putting his wife’s needs before his own, as Mita explains, “I scold Somesh to hide my embarrassed pleasure. He shouldn’t have been so extravagant. We can’t afford it. He just smiles” (Divakaruni 25).
“Clothes” models a perfect arranged marriage, where the happy couple has a balance of power instead of the woman being treated unjust. “A couple of days later Mother had another mark on her face, even bigger and reddish-blue. It was on the side of her forehead and made her face look lopsided. This time when I asked her about it she didn’t say anything” (Divakaruni 3). The story, “The Bats,” describes an abusive relationship, from an arranged marriage. Every night the woman sleeps alone, crying herself to sleep, trying to hide both the physical and mental pain from her daughter.
As the mother and her daughter were sneaking out to visit Grandpa-uncle, and escape the father, the daughter thought to herself, “I wondered when Mother bought them and how she’d paid for them, and then I wondered how she would buy our tickets. She never had had much money, and whenever she asked for any, Father flew into one of his rages” (Divakaruni 3) The husband in this story is horrible to his wife, keeping money for himself, and hurting her, and she has been living in a struggle.
The wife and her daughter go to visit their Grandpa-uncle, and are free at last, until one day her husband sends her a letter. He promises his wife everything will change, and he will be a better husband when she comes home, so they take the train back to the same abusive husband. This story shows what can happen when the wife is trapped, at a total loss of power, and some of the decisions she is forced to make when all hope is lost.
“For the first time it occurred to me that if things worked out the way everyone was hoping, I’d be going halfway around the world to live with a man I hadn’t even met” (Divakaruni 18) These are the words of Mita, explaining her impending arranged marriage. She had not even met the man she was supposed to marry, she was just being forced to move away from her family, into a stranger’s home. The stories “Clothes” and “The Bats” portray two very strong women, both in arranged marriages. They both set goals for themselves, because they know what they want, however, one has it easier.
Mita, in “Clothes” is encouraged by her husband to study in college, so she can go on to do great things. Her husband is supportive, listens to her, and helps Mita to have a successful, happy life, where as in “The Bats” the woman is abused, and desperate to get away from her husband to be finally free. In an arranged marriage the women never know who they are going to marry, and although they may get lucky with a great husband, often times they are abused, powerless, and treated poorly.