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America for Beginners


A poignant debut that explores unlikely friendships forged in unusual ...
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How does Pival, the widow and bereaved mother in America, compare to Pival the miserable, voiceless wife in Kolkata?

Created: 07/26/19

Replies: 9

Posted Jul. 26, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 2563

How does Pival, the widow and bereaved mother in America, compare to Pival the miserable, voiceless wife in Kolkata?

As a college student, before her marriage, Pival describes herself as "young, alive with purpose." Does she regain her purpose by the end of the novel? How does Pival, the widow and bereaved mother in America, compare to Pival the miserable, voiceless wife in Kolkata?


Posted Jul. 29, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
dianeh

Join Date: 08/01/16

Posts: 70

RE: How does Pival, the widow and bereaved mother in America, compare to Pival the miserable, voiceless wife in Kolkata?

In Kolkata, Pival is given no respect and she has lost any sense of self identity she had as a young girl. It must have taken a lot of courage for her to book the trip and head out to look for her son alive or dead.
During the book we see her open up and begin to assert herself as she establishes relationships with Satya and Rebecca. She also comes to understand more and be more accepting of differing lifestyles.
I think that her relationship with Jake is wonderful and is one filled with respect.
She is a totally different person when she returns to Kolkata.


Posted Jul. 29, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
JLPen77

Join Date: 02/05/16

Posts: 304

RE: How does Pival, the widow and bereaved mother in America, compare to Pival the miserable, voiceless wife in Kolkata?

I agree with dianeh. Her new experiences and relationships opened up her mind, which prepared her to develop more empathy and tolerance, especially for Jake, and ultimately to accept this aspect of her late son’s life. That brought her more peace, more hope. Above all, the journey brought her confidence in her own ability to function in the world, to make her own choices, and connect with others— important, since we see throughout the novel that she is a considerate person who is oriented to others and yet has been kept from making friends. She is ready to make a new and much happier life for herself upon her return to Kolkata.


Posted Aug. 01, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
djcminor

Join Date: 03/14/19

Posts: 116

RE: How does Pival, the widow and bereaved mother in America, compare to Pival the miserable, voiceless wife in Kolkata?

Early in her marriage, Pival realizes she has made a grave mistake in marrying Ram. She has all the material goods she could ask for and servants to take care of all the menial tasks of the home and gardens, leaving her little to nothing to do. She has followed the rules and has live a miserable life with Ram. On her trip in the US, Pival is in charge. While the itinerary has be fixed by Ronny, she still makes the decisions about what to do while on the journey. As the trip continues, she becomes more confident.


Posted Aug. 01, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
louisee

Join Date: 06/29/15

Posts: 126

RE: How does Pival, the widow and bereaved mother in America, compare to Pival the miserable, voiceless wife in Kolkata?

As a wife in Kolkata she did what was expected of her. Then when her husband dies she starts taking charge of her own life like she had done in college. She goes to America, something she couldn't have done when her husband was alive. She knew what she wanted to do on her US trip but was timid at the beginning. As she traveled she gained her courage to do exactly what she wanted to do, go to California.


Posted Aug. 02, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Tired Bookreader

Join Date: 08/19/11

Posts: 172

RE: How does Pival, the widow and bereaved mother in America, compare to Pival the miserable, voiceless wife in Kolkata?

Any one will step up the to conditions they are facing. If you are expected to be in the background, you will be. When events force you to move ahead, even into unfamiliar territory, it's the human spirit to adjust and move forward.


Posted Aug. 04, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
reene

Join Date: 02/18/15

Posts: 373

RE: How does Pival, the widow and bereaved mother in America, compare to Pival the miserable, voiceless wife in Kolkata?

It is only the love of her son that gives Pival the courage to make this journey. She begins her journey depressed, lost in thoughts of her son, and amazed by a culture so different from what was familiar to her. After years of being dominated by an abusive husband and living in a male dominated culture, she was often afraid to speak her mind. But she was also a smart woman who slowly opened her mind and heart and allowed herself to see and accept her own strength. Throughout the novel, we see Pival slowly grow in self confidence and to find a new purpose in her life.


Posted Aug. 04, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
acstrine

Join Date: 02/06/17

Posts: 277

RE: How does Pival, the widow and bereaved mother in America, compare to Pival the miserable, voiceless wife in Kolkata?

Pival realized too late that Ram saw her as a challenge, someone to be conquered. His behavior destroyed her confidence and joy. Even after he was dead, Pival continued to feel inferior and undeserving, as she would not even ask for her tea to be served the way she liked it.

Bhim was the light of her life. Knowing the truth about him and his life was what called Pival to action. Even though she didn't feel brave, she took the steps she needed- -steps she was unable to take while Ram was alive. She found her own voice with each stop on the trip, so much so that she even became impatient during parts of the tour. There was an urgency in her life that had been missing. The trip gave her the opportunity to be with people who did not belittle her, demand things from her, and who had different ideas. Pival allowed herself to be open- -she listened thoughtfully and observed.

She had planned to end her own life if she learned that Bhim was indeed dead. Her experience in America gave her a new perspective. In some ways she was able to make peace with herself, forgive herself for not being there to support him. This led her to a new relationship with Jake.


Posted Aug. 05, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
beckyh

Join Date: 05/08/11

Posts: 98

RE: How does Pival, the widow and bereaved mother in America, compare to Pival the miserable, voiceless wife in Kolkata?

The most important scene in the book is when Pival fires the maids and asserts her independence. She absorbed the freedoms of America without being "schooled" in freedom and democracy. She simply absorbed what she felt and saw in others during her cross country trip to independence. Pival's statement on Page 295 "I am learning. Every day..." covers so many things besides her acceptance of her son.


Posted Aug. 25, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
teachlz

Join Date: 07/28/16

Posts: 43

RE: How does Pival, the widow and bereaved mother in America, compare to Pival the miserable, voiceless wife in Kolkata?

I think that Pival's journey to America was also a journey of finding her self and her voice. Pival started making decisions that were important to Pival. Towards the end of the story, she seems to feel more freedom, and has more fire. She expresses herself.


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