Essential Exoticism: Jasmine and Joey - A Comparative Analysis between Joey of "Dogeaters" by Jessica Hagedorn and Jasmine from "Jasmine" by Bharati Mukherjee

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Essential Exoticism: A Juxtaposition of Joey and Jasmine

Sensuality and sexuality, passion and desire, mystery and unknown: these are the raw emotions that define exoticism. Although exoticism cannot be clearly illustrated through mere words, the core ideologies of Eastern exoticism have remained unchanged, consistent, and distinctive for centuries. Exotic beings have long been subjects of Western scrutiny and penetration, and the characters of Joey Sands and Jasmine are no exception. As a sexually-indifferent Manila mestizo in contemporary times, Joey Sands, also known as "Mr. Heartbreak" according to disco owner Andres Alacran, is privileged as a first person narrator in Dogeaters by Jessica Hagedorn. In Jasmine, Bharati Mukherjee broke into the mainstream with a story that uncovers the myth of the American manifest destiny. In this tale of immigrant assimilation and aspiration, Jasmine, a poor, Indian girl, has little power outside of her will and irresistible beauty. By analyzing the ways Joey and Jasmine's exoticism influenced surrounding characters and their own personal developments as first person narrators, the parallels between these two otherwise contrasting characters can easily be drawn.

His assertive seduction of Rainer and normative flows of capital by selling his desirability and being a thief make Joey Sands the forerunner of exoticism in Hagedorn's novel. The young hustler's protean ability ensures his survival. His body is the spectacle that attracts paying customers; thus, Joey learns to market and sell his image as commodity to "run men around and make them give him money" (Hagedorn 44). Mimicking scenes in erotic films, Joey sells his body to men, creating his own movies "with their flexible endings" to conjure self-empowering visions. In one imaginary scene, he sees himself as a "strong young animal--the statue of a magnificent young god " (132). Yet Joey's narcissistic reflection mirrors and depends...