"Managemment of Grief" and "A Pair of Tickets": Women\'s Images


Both Management of Grief and A Pair of Tickets were written by women and about
women. Authors were able to portray an image of women which differs from the
traditional, stereotypical literary image of feeble and delicate creatures who
needed to be cared for. Women in these stories were faced with horrible
tragedies, but the determining element in their experience was not so much what
happened to them but how they took it.

After reading first few pages of Management of Grief one may see Shaila as
"traditional" Indian woman who due to her upbringing was not even comfortable
enough with her own husband: "I was too much the well brought up woman. I was
so well brought up I never felt comfortable calling my husband by his first
name" (Mukherjee 537). For a person who grew up in North American society this
revelation may seem to come from an oppressed female, but later on in the story
we learn that protagonist could stand up for herself and for other women, like
in the airport incident. There again we were reminded of the way she was
brought up: "Once upon a time we were well brought up women; we were dutiful
wives who kept our heads veiled, our voices shy and sweet" (543). Only this
time the statement is ironic. Shaila\'s actions show us that she is far from the
voiceless, week female she was brought up to be.

Shaila was not responsible for her own heredity. She could not control much of
her environment in which she was brought up, but she had the power and internal
strength to face the life with her individual rejoinder. She admits to being
"trapped between worlds" (543), and we can feel the internal struggle between
"traditional" and "rebellious" tendencies. It seems that Shaila does not
realize herself that "rebellious" part already won over. The last indication
of victory was the poem of love she wrote to her husband in the hospital :
"Finally he\'ll know my feelings for him"(541). The fact that she never told her
husband about her feelings bothered Shaila. She brought it up right after she
found out about the accident, which indicates that this was on her mind for some
time. She broke the tradition of not revealing and admitting to the feelings
of love thus indicating that she disagreed with that tradition.

A woman lost two sons and a husband in one day. Her world was shattered, all
the dreams and hopes gone; but she still finds enough strength to comfort other
people. It was pointed out many times in the story that everybody perceived
Shaila as a very strong person: "All the people said, Mrs. Bhave is the
strongest person of all" (539). Men, women and youth saw her as a role model,
they rely on her for emotional support. Even when she experienced
"descending" of her husband she was told that she must alone finish what they\'ve
started together. (544). Was that her realization that she is capable of
surviving on her own and doing alone things which before were done by both her
and her husband? Shaila came back to Canada, admitting that she was indeed
capable of doing so, even though she did not have a job or career (545). She
managed her finances with the help of a lawyer, became politically involved
(547). On the outside it seemed that she went through the stages of grieving
successfully. The feelings of pain and sorrow are concealed within, she deals
with them in her own way, courageously alone.

A Pair of Tickets introduced another example of female courage and strength.
Intelligent and educated woman who went through horrors of war period lost her
family and was forced to give up the greatest possession of all - her twin
daughters. She moved to a different country, acquired a new family but never
did she stop searching for her daughters. As soon as correspondence between
China and US was allowed again mother began her search (Tan 169). Every year
until her death she wrote to different people (170) trying to find her twins.
At the same time she was able to care for her new daughter and husband.

Because of mothers determination families were reunited, sisters found each
other. She, like Shaila, chose to deal with her grief alone and like her she\'ve
never given up hope. Even her own husband did not know that she was searching
for the lost daughters (169). One may say that she kept