Bharati Mukherjee’s short story, “A Father”, begins with an account of an ordinary Wednesday morning in the household of an immigrant Hindu family. Mukherjee writes this story from the third-person point-of-view with informal diction. This makes the reader feel as though they are a part of the story, watching and observing. This style allows the reader to feel as though they are physically present in the two-bedroom apartment in Detroit with the Bhowmick family, a part of all the drama. Mr.
and Mrs. Bhowmick are referred to as their titles Mr. nd Mrs.
throughout the entire story to place emphasis on their marriage. They had an arranged marriage in India and have never loved each other. In the first paragraph, we get a sense of their relationship as he “nudged his wife awake” (Mukherjee 839) even though she didn’t have to be to work until much later.
Mr. and Mrs. Bhowmick are two characters that, although married, have nothing in common except a daughter.
Mr. Bhowmick is a father, like the title suggests, and is the protagonist of the story.He is described as a “dutiful, cautious man” (Mukherjee 839). He is dutiful to his heritage and the Hindu religion, often praying to Kali, a goddess of wrath and vengeance. He is cautious in that he sets his alarm clock early enough to accommodate a margin of accidents” (Mukherjee 839). These accidents as we see later in the story are all factors of his own apprehension and fear Kali.
He is a father who is stuck in old habits of his youth in India. Mrs. Bhowmick on the other hand, has always wanted live in America and rejects the Hindu religion.She is hard working and very independent.
In her pink nylon negligee, that she “paid for with her own MasterCard” (Mukherjee 839), she displays her culinary skills to her husband making an Eggs-cellent Recipe that had been “scotch-taped to the inside of a kitchen cupboard,” (Mukherjee 839). Unlike her husband, she embraces the American Dream daily, and in such a Betty Crocker way. Mukherjee introduces Kali, the patron goddess of the Bhowmick family, in the third paragraph.She is described as “ nude except for a tiny gilt crown and a garland strung together from sinners’ chopped off heads” (Mukherjee 838). Mr. Bhowmick is genuinely afraid of Kali and her vengeance. Thus, he does everything in his power to please her.
He even “gathered quite a crowd of admiring, fellow woodworkers” (Mukherjee 838) when displaying the shrine he had made for her. Understanding Kali and Mr. Bhowmick’s internal conflict with the goddess is essential to understanding the overall theme of wrath and vengeance.