Special Connections Between Strangers: Viewing Chitra Divakaruni’s Fiction Through a Maternal Lens


  • Veeksha Vagmita




Indian American writer Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni has an enviable body of work. She has covered a range of themes, including the search for identity and heritage, immigration, mother-daughter dynamics, domestic abuse, palace intrigues, the impact of 9/11, mother-love, and the bonds between sisters. Through a nuanced exploration of the dynamics between strangers,she brings to the fore possibilities of love, cooperation, and emotionally sustaining interactions. The special connections have a soothing effect and, at times, a subversive edge. They can challenge hetero-normative conventions: two Indian immigrants discover the happiness promised by lesbian love. They can disregard the law: a young Indian woman develops an instant and irrepressible attachment for a lost child, whom she takes in without the knowledge of the authorities. They can counteract the forces of hate: a yoga practitioner stabilises an artist disturbed by 9/11 and its aftermath. The connections chosen for this analysis have a distinct maternal component, i.e., they involve holding, protection, nurturance, and what Sara Ruddick calls “attentive love”. Through an application of Ruddick’s concept of “maternal thinking”, I will examine and explicate the rationality of care that informs the interactions between strangers in Divakaruni’s fiction. After a broad engagement with Divakaruni’s oeuvre, this paper will take a deep dive into the short story “A Perfect Life” (1995) and the novel Queen of Dreams(2004). By forging unique connections between her characters, Divakaruni broadens the scope of what is possible. She also reveals the different ways in which the maternal can manifest itself.


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Author Biography

Veeksha Vagmita

PhD(English) Scholar

School of Letters

Dr B. R. Ambedkar University Delhi

Delhi, India


Divakaruni, C. B. (1996). A perfect life. In Arranged marriage(pp. 73–108). Anchor Books.

(Original work published 1995)

Divakaruni, C. B. (2002). The blooming season for cacti. In The unknown errors of our lives

(pp. 167–209). Anchor Books. (Original work published 2001)

Divakaruni, C. B. (2005). Queen of Dreams. Abacus. (Original work published 2004)

Divakaruni, C. B. (2017). Before We Visit the Goddess. Simon & Schuster.(Original work

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Divakaruni, C. B. (2021). The Last Queen. Harper Collins Publishers.

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Ruddick, S. (1995). Maternal Thinking: Toward a Politics of Peace(2nd ed.). Beacon Press.

(Original work published 1989)

Ruddick, S. (2007). Preservative love and military destruction: Some reflections on mothering and peace. In Andrea O’ Reilly (Ed.), Maternal theory: Essential readings (Kindle ed.,pp. 137–171). Demeter Press.

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How to Cite

Vagmita, V. . (2022). Special Connections Between Strangers: Viewing Chitra Divakaruni’s Fiction Through a Maternal Lens. SMART MOVES JOURNAL IJELLH, 10(10), 1–19. https://doi.org/10.24113/ijellh.v10i10.11361