Discussion Guide for
Blue Jasmine by Kashmira Sheth
- Discuss Seema’s friendship with Mukta. How does it change throughout the novel? How do they change each other’s lives? Who changes more?
- Raju and Seema’s relationship is both close and conflicted. Discuss what issues divide them and what maintains their alliance. With whom did you usually side in their disagreements? Why?
- Predict where Seema, Raju, Carrie, and Mukta will be in five years. Whose life will be the most changed? Why do you think so?
- What events cause Seema and her family the most difficulty in living so far from family? What makes these events easier to bare? What would you miss most if you lived in a foreign country?
- Seema describes her transition to America to the game of Chutes and Ladders. Discuss what events were “up” for Seema and what events “slid” her backward. Which ones would be the most difficult for you? Why?
- Discuss Seema’s presentation on Kasturba Gandhi. Do you think it was a turning point for Seema? Why? What did she gain from the experience? What did her classmates learn about Seema and her culture?
- Raju says to Seema (p. 154) “You said you like that blue flower that blooms only once a year. What about the plumeria, parijat and jasmine that have bloomed for you for the past twelve years? How can you forget them?” Is Raju only talking about the flowers? How do other flowers mentioned in the book also represent more than what they are? ( Ex: Raju’s gift of the angel wing jasmine, the dandelions, neem tree)
- Compare and contrast the traditions and festivals that the Trevedi’s are missing in India to the new ones they are experiencing in America. How are the celebrations similar in the two countries? How are they different?
- Discuss Seema’s conflict with Carrie. What does Seema learn about herself and her view of her old friend Mutka? Do you think it is possible that Carrie and Seema could actually become friends? Can people really change?
- Mrs. Trevedi and Seema both feel quite isolated after first moving to America. How do things begin to change for them? What do you think is the most important when trying to fit in to a new community?
Make at least ten prints or rubbings of a variety of flora and fauna in your neighborhood. Use plant guides or the internet to identify their species. Put your work in a folder with three punch holes and add to your collection as the seasons change.
Make a list of at least twenty slang words (all appropriate to school!) or idioms that a person learning English as a second language might have difficulty understanding like Seema did with “you left the barn door wide open on that one!”
Research the satyagraha or passive resistance movement that the Gandhiji’s promoted during their lifetime. Make a timeline of their lives and work and important milestones in their personal and public lives.