Sumita, is an Indian girl born and bread in India. As such she has always known the Indian culture all her life, until she gets into an arranged marriage to Somesh, also an Indian, but based in America, where her view of the world changes. This is as a result of the fact that American way of life is very different from Indian. With the help of her husband she eventually disregards her own disabling culture for a more open western culture.
America presents a different culture from hers and ranging from work, type of food, gender roles and even dressings. For example America has a 24 hours economy and has no issues with business taking precedence to family. Unlike Indian stores that closes at dinner time and when it is extremely hot in the afternoon, it is unheard of in America. People have to work as it is the only way to be able to pay ones bills. America has also a more secular as opposed to India's religiosity. For example, back in India, Indian stores are given names after gods and goddesses, such as Gnash sweet house and Lakshmi Vastralaya for stores stocking fine saris, as they are associated with good luck.It appears to her as odd that beer and wine which are considered immoral in India can be the most popular item in America and a source of so much money. She is shocked as even her father regards places where alcohol is sold as "dark stinking den of vive."(Ling 218). In America, beer is properly and attractively packed and sold in stores around neighborhood and many enjoy without inhibitions whatsoever. She thus realizes culture is diverse and that what is unacceptable in Indian culture is welcomed in the American culture
Summit's has always thought men as strong willed and assertive. As such she is a little taken back by her husband's worry and apprehension when he talks about his business not doing well. She is happy that for once she is going to have a chance to offer help to a man, which is not so in Indian culture, where women are relegated to mundane tasks as households chores. Indeed she has a dream working beside her husband in the store enjoying soft American music as moves while arranging alcohol beer cans in the shelves .Sexuality is also understand and embraced. Showing love and affection in public is part of American culture unlike in India where it is a closely guarded issue. She envisions her and her husband kissing in public with no fear of anyone which is not allowed in India. As a matter of fact they find it uneasy and are guilty of the kissing while in her in-law's house (219-220). When in a nightie, the husband complements her calling her beautiful. She had not taken time to realize that she was indeed beautiful with legs just like those of a movie star. She wants to hear him say it a second time as no one had called her that before. Her father for example would have thought it inappropriate while her mother would have that by doing so would make her vain.
Somasha has already adopted some of the American culture but still embraces Indian culture, such as the need to remain loyal and kind to his parent for the sacrifice they made in his life. He argues that as a result of their being there when he needed them, it would not be fair to abandon them in a home for the aged. She manages to put herself his shoes and recalls her parents' sacrifices in her own life; the mother who sat by her numerous times when she had fever and her father's patience while teaching her how to read. As a result she reconsiders her unreasonable desire and agrees to stay longer with the parents, despite their being entrenched in the Indian culture. For instance she has to cover her head with the edge of her sari while serving tea to her mother's women friends and cannot refer her husband by his name. She thus realizes that her beliefs and values that have been instilled in her cannot be easily let go by being merely living in a different country. She finds that it is ironical that with all the fears she had about American culture, her life turns out to be no different from Deepali's or Radha who she had left in India. However at other times she thinks to herself that she had the opportunity and the freedom to embrace the western culture which she longed to do.
Sumita's attitude towards her Indian and American clothing is reflected in her thinking in various ways. She views Indian clothing as disabling and with the sole aim of hiding feminine beauty. The sari, bunch around the waist while worn and is difficult to keep in place. For instance she gets frustrated by the fact that her attempts to tuck it into the top of the petticoat are futile. Out of range she grabs the edge, and rips it using her teeth, an action that gives her a lot of satisfaction (222). She knows that her resolve to give up the sari would be frowned upon especially by her family who dislikes American culture. However she decides to go ahead and shun the sari for American clothing and in its find the freedom to achieve her dream of becoming a teacher. While in the room for instance, she is not in a Sari but blouse, a symbol of American culture. She also look herself in the mirror and see an assertive and confident woman ready to take on any opposition that would ensue in the followings week..
She marvels at her curvaceous body that is brought out by American close fifing jeans and t-shirts. The close fitting t-shirt outlines her bosom while the jeans outline her hips and thighs which have always been hidden under the flowing lines of sari. Sari represents women subjugation by a relentless culture. On the other hand American clothing represents freedom and comes in a wide variety to choose from. For example, Sumita has t-shirt, blouses, jeans and skirts to choose from and which she longs to wear 221-222.
Ling, A.Yellow Light: The Flowering of Asian American Arts.Temple University Press, 2000. Print,