Women\'s Images in Managment of Grief and A Pair of Tickets


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