Thursday, April 14, 2011

One for the Gipper

I want to start off this final blog with the most surprising/important piece of information I have learned this year and have that lead into an analysis of our story Jasmine. The most surprising thing I learned, in relation to our class this semester, started in the beginning of the semester and culminated into an articulated concept about right where we are now (although I leave it open-ended for amending purposes). It started in the article we read by Salman Rushdie called Imaginary Homelands which planted in my head the idea that how I choose to speak—whether about object, situation, and people—effects the way I am perceiving the world around me. Needless to say, it is one thing to think about and say “I create the world around me using language” and quite another to live life as if that phrase is the pre-supposition. It wasn’t until after we read a few more of our authors (specifically Albert Wendt and Patricia Grace) that I began to look at some of the subtler implications behind this pseudo-mystical-cryptic concept; namely, that the person I should be listening to and for is mySelf. These authors were already doing what I was thinking about; that is to say, they were redefining aspects of life, through their characters, which to them weren’t acceptable. However, they were also writing with the intent to create change in the world through language. I figured the best way to start was to listen to my language patterns (apply their technique to myself) and start learning more about my perceptual lens (You’d be surprised how many beliefs we hold on to but aren’t aware of…yet). So by listening to how I am actively choosing to perceive/create the world around me, I better understand my place and also listen to the environment I am currently living in. Making life, bit by bit, word by word, a little more open, inclusive, and enjoyable. This ties in directly with what we were talking about in class about Jasmine because the main character of this story also believes in the power of personal redefinition; which, as it turns out, is the fundamental root for understanding our homelands. If we think what our homes consist of we can basically say it breaks down into the environment we grow up in and our personal map we draw up of the environment. Our homes, right from birth, are the first environments we encounter and the first environment which we define/create. Jasmine shows us how we define ourselves in relation to home in the way her story takes her out of her original home and puts her in a new one. Jasmine, in this sense, also shows us we can’t stop defining just because we reach the boundaries of our original homes. She shows us how we can bring home with us by making our maps wider and more inclusive. For example, Jasmine always draws the reader’s attention to the parallels within her personal map like, “The farmers around here are like the farmers I grew up with. Modest people, never boastful, tactful and courtly in their way. A farmer is dependent on too many things outside his control; it makes for modesty.” (11) Farmers may not look the same where she goes but what she noticed about farmers transcended their physicality-she sees the human element. Jasmine’s map doesn’t only contain the information which parallels between her original homeland and her new homeland; her map also includes the various ways she personally defines and redefines herself and her image. Jasmine shows how you can choose to see the world through someone else’s map, if it looks like it could help you out. For example, she speaks about the world Taylor envisions and immediately falls in love with, “The love I felt for Taylor that first day had nothing to do with sex. I fell in love with his world, its ease, its careless confidence and graceful self-absorption. I wanted to become the person they thought they saw: humourous, intelligent, refined, affectionate. Not illegal, not murderer, not widowed, raped, destitute, fearful.” (171) Mukherjee makes this point more poignant in the way she uses mostly adjectives when describing the way she wants to view herself. Jasmine, in this way, teaches us one of the most important lessons about home; we alone hold the power to Make it, Re-Make it, and Take it with us where ever we are.

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