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Gauri totally forgot
her ethnic identity and tried to immerse herself into the American culture. She
started admiring the American way of dressing and developed a vigorous
fascination for it. She in fact started hating sari, the traditional dress. The
yard of silk sari was indeed difficult to hold as she was in her advanced stage
of pregnancy. She liked the way American girls’ dressing up. She felt
uncomfortable with Indian dresses. Finally she expurgated her saris,
petticoats, and blouses and switched to American attire. She was not even
bothered about her perturbed hairstyle. She typically changed herself into an
American and she did not disclose everything to Subhash as normally an Indian
wife would do. Gauri was ably adjusting and adapting to the new circumstances
and became acculturated. To bring out the best example of acculturation in
Gauri is when she gave birth to Bela (Udayan’s child), she demanded a baby –
sitter for Bela like the Americans. On the other hand Subhash was experiencing
a sort of culture shock and struggled to cope with the new environment. Subhash
was against her wish and didn’t approve of Gauri’s baby – sitter idea as he
wanted to bring up the child in the Indian way – under the care of the parents.
Gauri was not compromised because she imbibed herself into American craze for
individuality whereas Subhash wanted to follow his native culture and tradition
that is Indian.

Gauri wanted to lead a
luxurious life with all comforts. She had fully Americanized and she didn’t
want to manage or carry her role as an ideal mother with responsibilities. She
began to think that her life would be much thrilling and enjoyable without her
daughter Bela and husband Subhash. Gauri felt that her sexual life with Subhash
was unsatisfied and Subhash too felt the same. She was also frustrated to see
Subhash as an outstanding father to Bela which caused her discomfort as she
knew that he was not her biological father. Subhash was ready to lead a happy
life with Gauri and he insisted her to have another child for Bela’s sake, but
Gauri disapproved it. When Bela was five, Gauri started attending her graduate
school, leaving all the responsibilities of taking care of Bela. It was Subhash
who came to the rescue of Bela and managed his time to watch Bela. Gauri never
had the feel of commitment towards her family and began to pursue a doctorate
degree. In addition to this she thought Bela as a burden and always exempted
her responsibility several times in taking care of Bela. Gauri also kept on
nagging Subhash to reveal Bela about Udayan and he agreed to tell her one day.

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Subhash and Bela went
to Calcutta to meet his mother as he missed his father’s last journey. When
they returned from Calcutta they were terrified to find out that Gauri had fled
away. Gauri left a note to Subhash in which she had praised him as a perfect father
and could take care of Bela all by himself, and she was going to California.
Gauri, after much struggle, got a job in Claremont College. Subhash took care
of Bela who came to adolescent age, due to stress and despair she got
physically disturbed and she was in need of medical attention. Time runs as
Bela stepped into her thirties, when Subhash found that she was expecting a
child whose father was unknown. Subhash got infuriated and at last revealed
unwillingly that Udayan was her father and he was his step dad. Bela got upset
and disgracefully walked out. But soon she forgave him and they started to live
together in Rhode Island where Bela gave birth to Meghna, her daughter. Subhash
sent a letter asking Gauri to give him a formal divorce which she readily
accepted. In order to give him the divorce papers Gauri visited his house and
found Bela and Meghna. Bela introduced her as her great aunt to Meghna and she
was full of enemity against Gauri and treated her as an unwanted guest.

             In the final chapters we come to
know that the American individuality propelled Gauri to walk away from her
husband after twelve years of married life. Gauri often rattled lovers and
sometimes she had no one. In addition to this she even cultivated a lesbian
relationship with Lorna, a graduate student who did seek Gauri’s help for her
dissertation. In short she acculturated herself and opened the gate for Lesbian
Literature. Gauri after her separation went to Calcutta fully deserted in
complete anguish and depression thought of committing suicide. Subhash married
Elise, Bela’s teacher. Even in his last days he fondly thought of Gauri.

              We learn that Lahiri introduces
Gauri as a catalyst for exploring familial relationships. Gauri tends to be a
strong contender amongst the other several characters. Lahiri sketches her
flaws as both a wife and mother, but it is her suppleness and deep love for
Udayan that make her compelling. Lahiri gives an honest, insightful look at the
difficulties of arranged and loveless marriages, the isolation of Indian
immigrants on American soil. Lahiri masterfully limns region and mood and gives
a perfect portrayal of the Calcutta marshy land and the Rhode Island. Lahiri
takes us into Indian life and custom and makes us feel the clash of cultures
which Subhash and Gauri experience. These characters adjust and adapt to the
society in which they live. The theme of immigration and cultural identity
among Indian –Americans, and detailed analysis of a true
immigrant experience, the clash of cultures, the conflicts of assimilation and
most poignantly the chaotic ties between generations are the various aspects of
this novel. The cultural dissonances experienced by the immigrants, caught
between the cultures of their Indian birth place and the unfamiliar ways of
their adopted home are unique in their perspective. Bela, a second generation
immigrant, navigates both traditional values of immigrant parents and main
stream American values of their peers. And the novel on the whole brings out the
world of immigrants, their issues and problems related with migration on the
alien land.

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