The Management of Grief

Categories: GriefManagement

The face on the photo is of a boy much like Vinod; the same intelligent eyes, the same thick brows dipping into a V. But this boy’s features, even his cheeks, are puffier, wider, mushier. “When they’ve been in water for a while, love, they look a little heavier. ” The bones under the skin are broken, they said on the first day. (Mukherjee 497)

The imagery Bharati Mukherjee uses in this example allows the reader to feel as though they are there viewing this photo themselves.

This paper will show that Mukherjee uses imagery, irony, and symbols to illustrate the grieving process of individuals during a tragic event in “The Management of Grief.

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June 22, 1985. 329 passengers boarded Air India 182. 280 passengers were Indian immigrants living in Canada. A man named Mr. Singh checked in his bags for the flight, an hour later, the plane departed without Mr. Singh. Air India 182 was on its way to London when it disappeared from radar. Air traffic controllers heard a crackling sound before the plane vanished.

About an hour later news came in about the plane. A bomb located in the luggage cargo area exploded while the plane was 31,000 feet in the air. The wreckage settled in 2000 mile deep water 110 miles off the coast of Ireland.

The bombing killed 19 crew members and 307 passengers, including 82 children. There were 3 survivors of the explosion and the crash, but could not survive the freezing cold water and later drowned. (Wolsak) This event helped to influence Mukherjee in her life, her thoughts and feelings, and her writing in “The Management of Grief. ” This tragic event changed the lives of many, including Bharati Mukherjee, and during an interview, Mukherjee stated, “We interviewed all the terrorist cells, including an interview with the guy who financed the bombing and has just this November finally been arrested.

We talked to the bereaved also. The book was a nonfiction bestseller in Canada. We were under death threat for two years. When I sat down to write ‘The Middleman and other Stories’ as a collection of stories about Diaspora, ‘The Management of Grief’ came out in one sitting. It was a very sad story to write. I would have been on that plane if I hadn’t left Canada for the U. S. five years before – that’s the plane we used to take to India, the first one after school closing. I lost a friend on that flight. ” (Weich interview) Bharati Mukherjee was influenced to write this story for many reasons.

She lived in Canada and saw for herself the way the community looked at her as a minority and discriminated against her for being an Indian, just as Shaila was. She was born in India so she knows the many religious traditions and their very difficult ways of life, just as Shaila was. The tragedy of flight 182 affected Mukherjee and Shailas’ life as well; it was her people, her family, her friends, and her neighbors that lost their lives that horrible day. Imagery is a very important aspect in a story; it keeps the reader interested at all times by having very vivid details.

Mukherjee uses imagery throughout the story. One example is stated in the beginning of the paper. The way the Mukherjee tells about a specific scene makes the readers believe that they are in the story with Shaila. “But one has to argue with a man in uniform. He has large boils on his face. The boils swell and glow with sweat as we argue with him… I know that my parents, elderly and diabetic, must be waiting in a stuffy car in a scorching lot. ” (Mukherjee 497) The use of subtle irony is portrayed as an underlined meaning.

The irony is not “point blank,” the author makes it be known by giving the reader small innuendos. In “The Management of Grief” Shaila talks about her and her family moving to Canada to avoid the religious and political problems they were facing, when in fact, they become the victims of the issue. They face even more religious and political problems then before they moved, when they lived in India. Mukherjee also uses symbols to help the reader show the theme of the story. “I do not know where this voyage I have begun will end. I do not know which direction I will take.

I dropped the package on a park bench and started walking. ” (Mukherjee 503) The package that she drops on the bench is a symbol for the weight of burdens that she has had on her shoulders. She has an epiphany when she realizes it is time to move on with her life. She hasn’t heard from her lost family in weeks, she decides to let go of the burdens and start over with a new life, after hearing from her family one last time.

“Your time has come, go, be brave. ” (Mukherjee 503) There are many critiques about “The Management of Grief. Hitmanhart408 stated, “I thought that the ‘Management of Grief’ was a pretty boring short story. It had no real appeal to me overall and just seemed to drag on a bit. Sometimes I was really confused when Kusum, her friend, was speaking because I was not sure if it was Kusum or Mrs. Bhave. ” (hitmanhart408 1) I, on the other hand, see her work as being bold, brave, and honest. I disagree with the opinion that this story is boring and drags, I think it was very fascinating and heartfelt; I wanted to just keep reading. I do agree that sometimes it was confusing as to who was talking, mainly with Pam and Kusum.

Some critics insist that Mukherjee is exploiting a fad of postcolonial literature, but many reviewers find her work valuable. Critics often point out the violence in Mukherjee’s fiction arising from the clashing of old and new worlds. However, most reviewers do not find Mukherjee’s vision as without hope. Mukherjee has been recognized for developing her own style and message that has relevance in American literature. (Mukherjee web) Racism is an issue everywhere, and people face it every day. If more people were to read Mukherjee writings, maybe it would help open people’s eyes and make them realize we are all the same, we are all human.

Bharati Mukherjee uses imagery, irony, and symbolism in “The Management of Grief,” to show the grieving process of individuals during a tragic event; the death of family members, and loved ones. Mukherjee was influenced not only by the personal racism she encountered when first moving to Canada, but also by the Air India Flight 182 explosion, where she lost an old friend, and where she herself may have also been killed if not for moving to Canada 5 years earlier. She is a very vivid writer giving much detail in many of her scenarios making the readers feel like they are actually there, in the story.

Mukherjee is also great at using irony in small amounts throughout “The Management of Grief. ” It is ironic that Shaila Bhave and her family move to Canada to get away from the religious and racial issues that are all around them in India, yet, when they move to their new home there is more conflict surrounding them than before they moved. Symbols are a little harder to pinpoint in her stories. However, when symbols are found they are heartfelt and deep. The mysterious package that Shaila drops on the park bench at the end of the story is not a literal package.

It is a symbol of the weight of burdens that is now lifted off her shoulders when she decides to move on with her life and let go of her past. There are some people who will argue that Mukherjee’s work is boring and jumps around too much. However, most critiques argue that Mukherjee is a bold writer who steps “out-of-the-box” throughout much of her stories. Mukherjee takes all of her thoughts and ideas and puts them together in a brilliant story of how the grieving process happens in different cultural locations, and how deep down inside everyone there is a darkness that makes it impossible not to grieve over loss in their own way.

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The Management of Grief. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from

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