Urban and Rural Narratives of Female Relocation in Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s Novels Queen of Dreams and The Mistress of Spices

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Abstract

In today’s global world, the urban/ rural opposition is increasingly becoming a more relevant marker of the acculturation of foreigners whose adoption of national values is reflected by the spaces they inhabit. As they bring with them traditions related to the healing and balancing forces of the earth, immigrants prompt a reconsideration of the urban/ rural dichotomy in the metropolitan spaces they come to inhabit. Rural landscape in American culture has a long tradition of acting as a source of an alternative symbolic imaginary, responsible for boosting people’s feelings of patriotic commitment that are crucial to national integration. Diasporic American fiction has increasingly combined this tradition with symbolic magic and natural elements brought over from the “other” cultural backgrounds their authors come from. This paper aims to study the socio-political negotiations in a few instances of cultural translation within the urban/ rural dialectic in Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s novels The Mistress of Spices and Queen of Dreams. I will suggest that Divakaruni’s female protagonists work their initial experience of dislocation into a discourse of nature and the earth free from boundaries, based on a rejection of urban alienation and the discovery of the reconciliatory potential of America’s nature.

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