One of the most unique experiences in life one can have, is immigrating to another country. To leave everything that is known and familiar and start life anew, is an experience unique to its own. In her Pulitzer Prize winning book Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri writes numerous short fictitious stories presented in the light of the immigration, and how it affects the characters within them. Her characters must navigate hardship, questions on self-identity, realting to another, and other experiences as a result immigrating. Lahiri herself has been clearly affected by the immigration experience; she has expressed concern on self-identity and has even stated that she is jealous of her own children as they are they can identify as American. Whereas she immigrated and continues to have self identity issues of what nationality she is. Take for example the short story When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine: the narrator an adolescent girl is presented with the idea of forced immigration. “It made no sense to me. Mr. Pirzada and my parents spoke the same language, laughed at the same jokes, looked more or less the same. They ate pickled mangoes with their meals, ate rice every night for supper with their hands. Like my parents, Mr. Pirzada took off his shoes before entering a room, chewed fennel seeds after meals as a digestive, drank no alcohol, for dessert dipped austere biscuits into suggestive cups of tea. Nevertheless my father insisted that I understand the difference, and led me to a map of the world taped to the wall over his desk. He seemed concerned that Mr. Pirzada Might take offense if I accidentally referred to him as an Indian” (27 – 28). India has been divided. The little girl is exposed to the fact that even though Mr. Pirzada shares the same interests and culture as her and her family, there is a separation of nationality. The little girl compares the types of food and the way that they are enjoyed by with her family by of Mr. Pirzada, and she finds...
...Symbolism is an important factor in many stories. In “Interpreter of Maladies”, the author, Jhumpa Lahiri, uses the symbol to represent her idea. In the story, the main character, Mr. Kapasi, is an Indian tour guide who accompanies the Das family on their way to see the Sun Temple at Konarak. Mr. Kapasi is an intelligent and knowledgeable man. He was once fluent in many languages but now speaks only English. He wanted to be a diplomat once but now he works as aninterpreter in a doctor’s office. Mr. and Mrs. Das are young couple with three kids. Mr. Kapasi feels that they are more likely to be brother and sister to the kids than parents. The story’s central conflict focuses on the marriage situation because both the protagonist, Mr. Kapasi, and the antagonist, Mrs. Mina Das, have unhappy marriage. In the story, Mrs. Das has the scrap of paper with Mr. Kapasi’s address on it. The symbolization of the scrap of paper changes over the time.
The scrap of paper symbolizes romance at first. On the way to the Sun Temple, Mr. Kapasi entertains Mrs. Das with his fantastic experiences from his interpreter job. The narrator indicates in the story that “he decided to tell Mrs. Das about another patient, and another: the young woman who had complained of a sensation of raindrops in her spine, the gentleman whose birthmark had begun to sprout hairs” (551). Although the reason that he entertains her is to make her...
...Throughout life, people are faced with many obstacles, but one of the main things for people to do is adapt to the obstacles and learn how to move through and around them. Individuals have to change in order to adapt to the life around them, but there are times when it is too difficult for some to change. Some may experience immense trauma and find it difficult to move on from things whilst others find it hard to come to terms with new life. No matter what people are forced to do things that they may not want to do, but they have to choose whether to adapt to these changes, or suffer the consequences.
Being able to adapt in life is an important skill as people are faced with having to change daily. However, some individuals do not have the skills required to adapt, or they have been through traumatic experiences that inhibit that ability to adapt. Shoba and Shukumar in the story “A Temporary Matter” are faced with a horrific ordeal which forces them to adapt to new life, this however, does not turn out the way they had planned and they eventually split up from not being able to fully adapt and accept the changes “they’d been through enough” and Shoba “needed some time alone”, their relationship eventually dissolves. A similar thing happened to Mrs Sen in “Mrs Sen’s.” She was forced to adapt to a new country and learn their way of life, this although, proves to be too difficult for Mrs Sen as she was unable to successfully learn how to drive...
...Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
The life in exile inevitably evokes a lot of problems an individual should face. However, often people are unprepared for numerous difficulties they may face, while being in exile that makes their life absolutely unbearable. In this respect, it is important to underline that people are forced to live in exile and if they are exiled they are forced to abandon their native country against their will. The cause of exile is due to political or punitive reasons. Jhumpa Lahiri, through the book, “Interpreter of Maladies" has illustrated the theme of exile quite well. Exile Various writers have explored the theme of being exiled. The exile experience, the question of identity, and the expatriate experience have furnished remarkable material in the world of fiction. Expatriation has increasingly become one of the crucial events of the contemporary world. In the “Interpreter of Maladies," the characters are faced with a common problem, referred to as maladies. All of them seem to be suffering from the difficulty of adapting to a new place and trying to forget the memories of the previous home country. The book entails a collection of few stories regarding different communities from South Asia. The novel interprets the emotional affection and affliction that was experienced by exiled people. When people are required...
...Out of all Jhumpa Lahiri’s short stories in her book, Interpreter of Maladies, I think the story ”The Third and Final Continent” was truly inspiring and also the most positive perspective of an Indian immigrant brand new to America. Throughout the story the main character, who also functions as the narrator, remains nameless. This shows how Lahiri may be trying to represent any average Bengali immigrant’s experience. The narrator is the dynamic character of the story and is able to look back and show the reader how far he has come to accomplish his dreams.
From the very beginning of the story the narrator depicts a very burdensome life. After leaving his homeland of India, he describes the first place he lived in London as: ”a house occupied entirely of penniless Bengali Bachelors like [himself], at least a dozen and sometimes more and all struggling to educate and establish ourselves abroad”(Lahiri 173). This is the perfect example of the narrator’s determination to be successful in life and also the major hardships he will have to endure. This also portrays how the narrator accepts and is aware of his inevitable transformation through education and hardships. He knows that his struggles will eventually lead to the ultimate achievement of prevailing over three continents.
After surviving on the bare minimum in London for about five years the narrator is offered a fulltime job in America at the prestigious MIT, which will be...
...Lahiri’s stories show the importance of communication in relationships. Discuss.
Interpreter of Maladies focuses on communication as one of the universal themes throughout the book. The stories demonstrate how communication is the key to the success or failure of relationships. While there are instances when communication is effectively employed and therefore enabled the characters to build strong and intimate connections, there are examples of where communication was superficial or ineffectual, leading to unstable, limited relationships. Jhumpa Lahiri illustrates the importance of communication within relationships by allowing readers to experience the consequences and advantages that have developed as a result throughout the short stories. We recognise the necessity to communicate with our loved ones vicariously through the lives of several of the characters.
Mr. Kapasi, the interpreter of maladies, has essentially lost the ability to communicate with his wife, leaving him to drink tea alone at night. Because of this the Kapasi’s find themselves in a loveless marriage. This kind of relationship also exists within the Das family. Mr and Mrs Das are unable to efficiently communicate because of the material barrier each has which prevents them from any form of contact. Mrs. Das often hides behind her sunglasses, while Mr. Das is kept away behind his guidebook. Because of the somewhat non-existent...
...Short Response: Interpreter of Maladies
“When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine,” “A Real Durwan,” “Mrs. Sen’s,” “The Treatment of Bibi Haldar”
“When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine”
• Why doesn’t Mr. Pirzada ever come back to visit the family?
• Did Mr. Pirzada’s sudden return to Dacca change the speaker’s attitude or feelings towards people she lets into her life?
“A Real Durwan”
• Did Boori Ma really have all the lavish amenities that she said she did?
• Were the Dalas really going to bring back new bedding for Boori Ma?
• Why were the residents so hasty in passing judgment on Boori Ma’s character?
• What did Mrs. Sen like about the U.S.?
• Why did Eliot lie to his mom about Mrs. Sen’s change in attitude?
“The Treatment of Bibi Haldar”
• Who is the father of Bibi’s child?
• What was Bibi’s condition that could be cured by marriage?
“When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine”
• Maturing is a process in which naivety is replaced by experience.
“A Real Durwan”
• People are always searching to improve their lives, but this can cause people to loose their genuine character.
• It is difficult to assimilate into a new culture without unpleasant consequences.
“The Treatment of Bibi Haldar”
• In tough times, the weaker individual gets blamed for other people’s problems.
Passage: (“Mrs. Sen’s”)
“You must miss her. When I think of you, only a boy, separated from your mother for so...
...“Lahiri shows that miscommunication and unexpressed feelings lead to misunderstanding and cultural displacement”
The anthology “Interpreter of Maladies” written by Jhumpa Lahiri explores the concept that miscommunication and unexpressed feelings have negative outcomes on people as well as relationships, leading to misunderstanding, displacement and enforcing departure of what is known. Forming nine short stories revolving around themes of identity and rediscovering ones true roots, alienation between those who are culturally displaced, danger of romanticism and assimilation of immigrants experiences as they all struggle to adapt to their new enforced life, learning to cope with their partners and rediscover who they are in a foreign country they now call home.
In the story ‘sexy’ the social pressures forced upon Miranda are evident as she is in a state of confusion as she is sleeping with a married man, she knows that morally she is doing the wrong thing although she stated that “without the wife there it didn’t seem so wrong”. Although feeling guilty, she “knew what it’s like to be lonely” when with Dev, Miranda felt a sense of belonging “he was the first to call her sexy” though her experience with Dev was exhilarating and full of lust, their relationship was mainly based on secrets and miscommunication; this leads to misapprehension as they are not allowing themselves to know each other on a personal level,...
...Interpreter of Maladies
Practice Text Response Essay Topics
1. ‘Lahiri’s stories show the importance of communication in relationships.’ Discuss.
2. ‘Lahiri’s stories are much about much more than the migrant experience. They also explore ‘maladies’ common to all people.’ Do you agree?
3. ‘Whilst all the characters in Lahiri’s stories carry burdens in their hearts, few are able to find peace within themselves.’ Discuss.
4. ‘A person’s identity and sense of belonging is intrinsically linked to their place of origin.’
To what extent do Lahiri’s stories support this view?
5. ‘Loneliness and isolation pervade the lives of many characters in these stories.’ Do any characters find a way out of this misery?
6. ‘In Lahiri’s stories, many of the characters struggle to find love.’
Why is love so elusive for them?
7. ‘Lahiri’s stories show that all people face challenges no matter where they live in the world.’ To what extent do you agree?
8. ‘In seeking to improve their lives, some of the characters in the stories lose sight of what they truly value.’ Do you agree?
9. ‘In Interpreter of Maladies the vulnerable characters invariably become scapegoats when life becomes difficult for others.’ Do you agree?
10. ‘It is those who leave their homeland that struggle the most in Interpreter of Maladies.’
Do you agree?