In America, long gone are the days of gender based marital roles where the man financially provides for the family, and where the woman is uneducated, maintains the household, and regards her husband as superior. In today’s western society, education is for all individuals, marital roles are defined by both spouses, and needs are equally important regardless of gender. In contrast, there are cultures still existing who value the old marital traditions. The protagonist, simply referred to as “the husband”, in Divakaruni’s The Disappearance, is a fully developed character who values these old traditions still active in his homeland of India; ill equipped to cope with western culture and ...view middle of the document...
Whereas, the husband’s actions are acceptable and the wife’s actions are disrespectful. Cultures who measure a man’s success by his financial status and his ability to govern his family might consider equality within the marriage a weakness.
To illustrate further, the husband’s cultural prejudice allows him believe that due to his financial stability, he can expect to obtain a traditional Indian wife who is grateful for the opportunity to care for his needs. In an instructional letter to his mother concerning his wife selection, he writes:
If you can find me a quiet, pretty girl . . . not brash, like Calcutta girls are nowadays, not with too many western ideas. Someone who would be relieved to have her husband make the major decisions. But she had to be smart, at least a year of college, someone he could introduce to his friends with pride. (Divakaruni, 1995, para. 8)
The woman has no choice in the marital decision, nor a choice in any decision. Women of his culture are not raised to be decision makers, nor to support themselves financially. In his culture, women aspire to marry a financially stable husband to provide for themselves and their children. The husband has achieved financial stability, thus values himself a prize husband.
His strong grip on old traditional ways causes his dilemma, which stem from his wife’s disappearance and his denial of fault. For instance, he sees his wife as he only knows how: a traditional Indian girl, lucky enough to be his wife. He does not consider her aspiring to become anything other than his wife and caretaker. If she desired anything else, it would reflect poorly on him, therefore he ignores any indication of her unhappiness. When she disappears, he can only assume something criminal took place. He does not recognize that raping his wife the previous night was the final act that drove his wife away.
He was always careful not to hurt her, he...