Dimple’s life in the United States begins as the life of a traditional Indian wife. Her limitation and freedom are spell bound at the liberation and right of American culture. Dimple’s mind understands this as a release from the clutches of a patriarchal society. The fallaciously liberated psyche moves around wantonly expressing wonder for big cars, buildings, televisions, lovely furniture, rugs, Teflon- coated, iron, and queen size bed. She compares her life at Calcutta to her life in America. The bitter experience of Dimple at the meat shop to get directed to go across the street to the German by a fat man and the shop gives an alien feeling. The racial differences deepen her fear of survival in America. She compares it to the routine way of living in Calcutta.
In Calcutta she’d buy from Muslims, Bihatis, Christians, Nepalis. Hse was used to many races; she’d never been a communalist. And so long she had money to spend. No one would ask her what community she belonged to. She was caught in the crossfire of an American Communalism. She felt she’d come very close to getting killed on her third morning in America (W 60).
This experience makes her aware of her displacement. The normal process of individuation gets hampered due to her feeling of isolation. Dimple seems to be a complex character. To get rid of the traditional taboos as an Indian wife, she has left India. Her life in Calcutta was frustrating and this was also a reason for the immigration to the United States. Though Dimple escapes to the United States, she is not able to get rid of her basic problems. So, she is not able to adjust herself in America. Her marriage with Amit has not provided a complete satisfaction of fulfillment. And so, Dimple imagines an ideal man of her own expectations.
A forehead from an aspirin ad, the lips, eyes and chin from a body- builder and shoulders ad, the stomach and legs from trousers and put the ideal man and street or by the side of a pool at a five- star hotel. He wore blue bathing trunks, there was no ugly black hair on his shoulder blades as he leaped feet first in to the pool while she stood on the edge in a scarlet sari with a gold border, behind wraparound sunglasses and trailed her toes in the water (W 23).
Dimple thought of the betrayal of life and delusion of marriage is the reason for her depression. In order to come out of her depressed state she tries to day dream, nap and get in to the artificiality of American life. But, she fails in all her attempts and condemns herself to be unlucky. These thoughts reveal the streak of violence developing in her consciousness. The fourth phase of Dimple’s life at the residence of Mookherjee’s who have sub-let their apartment in Manhattan, as they are on sabbatical leave drives her to the core end of neurotic behaviour of homicide. Dimple’s nearness to Mill Glasser, Ina Mullick and Leni Anspach has driven her away into the exuberant way of living. She again starts feeling lonely when she is away from them. Her apartment in Manhattan has not been a convenient place to live in. Watching Television becomes her way of spending time. Television introduces her to love, middle- American style, which makes her think that even murder and death were love gone awry. Her TV watching stuns her by the incredible violence. It puts her into a diabolical trap. She feels herself tormented without hope of either release or relief. She tries to relate her feelings to the unreal world shown on the TV, which provides wrong solutions to the real problems. She treats Amit’s arrival and Amit as interruptions her TV watching. The importance given to an inanimate thing than to her husband is due to the fact that she finds life in the serials and advertisements shown on TV. She fills the gaps created through loss with imagination.
Due to the confused and deluded state of her mind, she suffers from insomnia. Insomnia is a sleep disorder. It is known as sleeplessness. The sleep difficulty arises due to unfulfilled desires and longings. This is the result of insecure feeling and fear of loneliness. The clairvoyant need of Dimple can no longer be fulfilled by the life she loves. Fragmentation in Dimple’s mind indicates that she has been very disturbed. She starts rerating. Freud attributes superstitious beliefs to suppressed hostility.
It can be recognized most clearly in neurotics suffering from… superstition hostile and cruel impulses. Superstition is in large part the expectation of trouble; and a person who had harboured frequent evil wishes against others, but has been brought up to be good and has therefore repressed such wishes into the unconscious, will be especially ready to expect punishment for his unconscious wickedness in the form of trouble threatening him from without (232).
Marriage, in India, is always considered as a holy deed. With or without involvement the life after marriage has to go in a smooth path. Tars’s impulsive marriage to David Cartwright also makes Tara face many problems. The culture clash between then brings the feelings of fear, doubt and dispossessed in Tara’s mind. A dispossessed psyche leads to depressed mind. The host culture has cheated her through its artificially, as Oscar Handlin says,
You long of course for the safety; you cherish still the ideal of the nest. But danger and insecurity are other wards for freedom and opportunity. You are alone in a society without order; you miss the support of the community, assurance of a defined rank. (5)
In the novel The Tiger’s daughter, Tara experiences a harrowing response by facing the events and environment so intense and frightening that overwhelms familiar configuration of incidents. The pervasive negative experiences lead Tara into complex and far-reaching understanding of reality. The emotional abuse brings out a depression in Tara’s mind. She is helpless. Tara undergoes the dissociation in her physical and mental self leading to depression. The sufferings of Tara and Dimple arise from the multicultural society they face. In her essay ‘American dreamer’, a publication adapted from a paper delivery for the IOWA board humanities in 1994 titled “Beyond multiculturalism; surviving the Nineties,” Mukherjee lists the faults of multiculturalism;
The multicultural mosaic implies a contiguity of fixed, self-sufficient utterly distinct cultures. Multiculturalism as it has been practiced in the United States in the past 10 years implies the existence of a central cultural, ringed by peripheral cultures. The fall out of official multiculturalism is the establishment of one culture as the norm and the rest as aberrations. At the same time, the multiculturalists’ emphasis is on race-and ethnicity based group identity leads to a lack of respect for individual differences within each group. (34-35)
Multiculturalism thus asks one to set themselves in the series of cultures replacing one another, a sequence that prohibits change through the negotiations of hybridity, leaving individual in a state of fixed difference. This hybridity is also responsible for the ordeal in the mind of Tara and Dimple. The shifting hybrid values between East and West and between tradition and modernity are expressed within the dialectic between self-reinvention and self-suppression. They fail in their process of self-reinvention and they fall under self-suppression. They fight two simultaneous battles against their survival in their own place and in the place where they have arrived. Tara and Dimple think in a way to enjoy their transformation into a full-blown American. But they fail to overcome the aloofness that is brought out from expatriation and immigration. Tara finds herself alienated in a peculiar manner while Dimple turns violent due to the trauma in her mind.
When Bharati Mukherjee is questioned about transfiguration or emotional transformation and not economic transformation and the effect of psychic violence on the individual, often female Asian American in ‘The Hindustan Times’, she answers
In The Tiger’s Daughter, individual actions are shaped by, and/or reactions to, the Naxalite revolution in Calcutta, and the imminence of the establishment of a Marxist Government in West Bengal State. In Wife, Dimple experiences racist discrimination at home, and classist discrimination at meetings, with white feminists. (2)