Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Identity, Home, and Happiness

The most surprising thing I have learned in this class is the different ways one looks for and acquires freedom. I look to many of the characters in this course as inspirations for they went against societal values in order to do what was best for them, namely finding their own identity, home, and happiness. It is extremely difficult to live the life our parents, for instance, expect of us. There is the expectation for us to go to college, get a job, get married, and have children. However, it was extremely interesting to live through the lives of those who did not follow this set plan of life, for instance, Elizabeth Gilbert and Jasmine. Personally, at this point in my life, I am not thinking about marriage because I am focusing on my plans for after graduation, but I often wonder if I even want to get married since I am so career driven. This shocks my mother greatly, since yes, I was one of those little girls always marrying Barbie and Ken, and planning my dream wedding. However, now that I am older, I realize I may never know where life will lead me, and may have to make difficult decisions in order to find my true self, home, and happiness. At times, what one believes to be selfish, another believes to be brave. For instance, looking at Elizabeth Gilbert, we, as a class, spoke about whether or not she was selfish for leaving her husband, or brave because she knew what steps she had to take in order to find herself and to be happy. I believe that this concept of selfishness can be applied to Jasmine, as well, when Jase (one of Jasmine’s four identities) leaves behind Jane and Bud in order to find true happiness with Taylor and Duff.

Jasmine explains, “I have had a husband for each of the women I have been. Prakash for Jasmine, Taylor for Jase, Bud for Jane. Half-Face for Kali” (197). Jasmine has had many different identities throughout this work, however, I believe that when she chose to be with Taylor, she claimed the identity of Jase and left behind her other identities. Like Elizabeth Gilbert, Jasmine goes against what is expected of women. Jasmine is having a baby, but is not married, and Gilbert is married, but does not want to have a baby. This goes against the image of women as mothers. Instead, both Jasmine and Gilbert flee from their former lives in order to find their identity and happiness. Gilbert finds her identity through travel, and Jasmine finds her identity from Taylor who gave her the name of “Jase.” Her identity of Jase is one who “lived for the future. . .went to movies and lived for today” (176). She has a different life when she is with Duff and Taylor, a life full of love. Even Wylie had to decide if she wanted to leave her husband, Taylor. However, when she does leave him, it benefited both herself and Taylor, which is why what one considers selfish, may actually benefit all parties involved.

Jasmine is also faced with the decision to leave Bud. Although she is not married, society expects her to marry him since she is having his baby. However, one does not always attain freedom by following societal expectations. Another example is when Vimla accuses Jasmine and Prakash of living in sin. Vimla says, “It seems to me that once you let one tradition go, all the other traditions crumble” (75). It is as though she is saying that everyone’s identity is shaped solely by traditions, but in actuality one is able to choose what traditions to follow or ignore, which adds to one’s identity, as opposed to making it crumble. Jasmine thinks, “Who lays out the roadways of our futures?” (174). I believe we pave our own roadways and create our own destinies and futures. Elizabeth Gilbert left her husband to embark on a journey of self-discovery. She created her own path. Also, Jasmine realized that she shaped her identity and homeland around the people in her life. However, she left the man she was living with to embark on a journey to reclaim the life she loved with Taylor and Duff. Jasmine already knew the life she wanted and the man she loved. Whenever she thought of Taylor, Jasmine repeatedly said to herself, “Stop! It’s Bud who tries to make me happy now” (198), trying to ignore her feelings for Taylor and trying to be dutiful to Bud and do what she considers to be right. However, at times it is more beneficial to do what some may think is selfish in order to find one’s own true self and happiness. This proved to be true for Jasmine, Wylie, and Gilbert, and I hope to have the courage to realize if something is not right in my life, and take steps to make it better.

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