In the stories “Birdsong” and “Clothes”, the main characters follow difficult paths to their own identities, to their thoughts and feelings. However, they understand that they have a right of choice to live the way they like. Nobody actually can stop them from this, and they choose themselves whether to obey the old rules and traditions limiting them, or to discover themselves. The choices the character make are either big (to start a new life in a new country) or small (to ask people why do they ignore you), but anyways all of them are important. Any choice made out of understanding that everyone is responsible for their own life makes things change to the better.
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In the “Birdsong”, the main character makes one big choice, which is to leave her lover, and some minor choices. Previously she used to keep silence like everyone else, but throughout the story she begins to express her real thoughts and feelings. She points at issues that seem usual for Lagos: for example, women have to serve cakes and to “settle down”, or everyone automatically is considered to be Christian. The question of women’s visibility suddenly becomes one of the key ones for the character. It is connected with her personal crisis, as long as she found herself in relationships with a narcissist who neglects her feelings and who does not respect her personality. She starts to choose self-expression instead of silence: she asks the waiters, why do they ignore her, she asks a woman staring at her about the reasons why is she doing it. The most important choice for her was to leave her lover. Despite the pain that she felt because of that decision, it was the beginning of the path to her self-respect and her self-identity.
In the “Clothes”, the main character decides to stay in America instead of returning back to India. She has been dreaming about running a shop, and finally, after her husband’s death, she decides to start a new life in this unknown and dangerous country. This is a very brave choice, as long as she has been followed Indian traditions throughout her life, and according to them she had to be just an obedient wife and daughter-in-law. Her in-laws even did not find it appropriate for her to visit her husband’s store. It demonstrates how daring it was to break these rules and to start live on her own. Thus, the character chooses her own identity instead of the roles offered by Indian society. She discovers her own desires and dreams and finds strength to follow them.
Nowadays self-definition plays a very important role in the United States. People wake up from a long sleep, discovering their real identity and their rights. As we can see from the “Clothes”, nothing changes for the character when she moves from India to the U.S. All the traditions remain the same, and she has to play a role of a timid wife, obedient to her parents-in-law. Thus, it demonstrates that despite the spirit of freedom that has been existing in America from its very foundation, there are still many limits. These limits exist in particular layers of the society and they are often become an obstacle for people’s identity and their pursuit to happiness. However, people have a choice: to accept it and to live someone else’s life according to outdated norms, or to change the existing order, inspiring and awakening other people.