Tilo’s Coming to Terms With Her Conflicting Identity: A Study of Her Displaced Self in The Mistress of Spices
Keywords:Alienation, Nostalgia, Diaspora, Existence, Migration, Assimilation, Culture
The term ‘diaspora’ was initially used for the displacement of Jews but now it has become an umbrella term for all kinds of displacement from one country to another (be it forced or willing) by people of all cultures and communities. According to Makarand Paranjape, “The diaspora... must involve a cross-cultural or cross-civilizational passage. It is only such a crossing that results in the unique consciousness of the diasporic” (Paranjape 6). The most basic problems experienced by diasporic existence are nostalgia, alienation and the problem of assimilation. While the first generation immigrants suffer from nostalgia, those who belong to second generation or generations after that suffer from the problem of assimilation, i.e. they earnestly desire to get assimilated in their country of adoption and become part of it but their hyphenated identity never leaves them. Alienation is a common feature to all generations of immigrants, first generation immigrants are not one with the new surroundings (emotionally and culturally) and feel alienated whereas the next generations become part of the new culture but are still considered outsiders hence made to feel alienated. This leads to an identity crisis. It is this problem of identity which forms the soul of one’s diasporic existence. Divakaruni’s protagonist Tilo represents all these aspects of diasporic existence. She does not merely represent these aspects in the life of people but is herself a physical embodiment of diasporic existence. She is both, a person living a diasporic life as well as the diasporic life itself.
Divakaruni, Chitra Banerjee. The Mistress of Spices. US: Anchor Books, 1997. Print.
Lamor, Lisa. “Fractured Identity: The Jagged Path of Diaspora in Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s The Mistress of Spices. Diss. 2011. Mankato: Minnesota State University. Web. 18 March 2015.
Paranjape, Makarand. “Displaced Relations: Diasporas, Empires, Homelands.” In Diaspora:
Theories, Histories, Texts. Ed. Makarand Paranjape. New Delhi: Indialog Publications Pvt. Ltd., 2001. Print.
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