"Two Ways to Belong in America" by Bharati Mukherjee

"Two Ways to Belong in America" by Bharati Mukherjee

Author: Grace Ortega
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Introduction to Psychology

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About the Author

  • Born in 1940 and raised in Calcutta, India
  • Immigrated to the United States in 1961
  • American writer and English studies professor at UC Berkeley


Sari: South Asian female garment that consists of a drape

Mongrelization:To mix the kinds, classes, types, characters, or sources of origin of people, animals, or things

Scapegoating: Singling out any party for unmerited negative treatment or blame. In the Bible, a goat sent into the wilderness after the Jewish chief priest had symbolically laid the sins of the people upon it (Lev. 16).

Expatriate: A person who lives outside their native country.

Review Questions

How were Bharati and Mira alike?

How were Bharati and Mira different?

Who happily calls herself an expatriate?


Group Discussion

  • What was the purpose of "Two Ways to Belong in America?"
  • Why is the purpose relevant?


Writing Assignment

"Mira and I differ, however, in the ways in which we hope to interact with the country that we have chosen to live in. She is happier to live in America as expatriate Indian than as an immigrant American. I need to feel like a part of the community I have adopted... I need to put roots down, to vote and make the difference that I can. The price that the immigrant willingly pays, and that the exile avoids, is the trauma of self-transformation." (page 301)

Imagine that you chose to live in a country different from the culture that you were raised in. Perhaps you decide to go to college in a different country or accept a job abroad.  

Would you be more similar to Mira who is happier to live as an expatriate than as an immigrant or would you be more similar to Bharati who needs to feel part of the community? Explain why.

Please type one paragraph using Shaffer and MLA format.

Schaffer Paragraph

  • Topic sentence (TS)
  • Concrete Detail (CD)
  • Commentary (CM)
  • Commentary (CM)
  • Concrete Detail (CD)
  • Commentary (CM)
  • Commentary (CM)
  • Closing/Concluding sentence (CS)


          In "Two Ways to Belong in America", Bharati Mukherjee writes about her self-transformation that evolves after moving from India to America. Unlike her sister, Mira, Bharati embraced her American citizenship despite her previous plans to move back to India. Although I only carried a student visa during my semester abroad in Italy, I fell in love the Italian's way of life and cultural pride. Living in a different country was an exciting experience that opened me eyes to see how other people in the world live. As part of embracing her citizenship, Bharati desired to be part of the community that she lived in. I emerged myself with the Italian community  by trying to speak Italian with the locals and living life in a slower pace. I'll never forget traveling to the countryside with my friends to attend a cooking class where a woman and her family welcomed us into their quaint home that radiated love and happiness. Although Bharati didn't originally intend to settle outside of India, she happily made herself a new home and identity in America.