Interpreter of Maladies
Coursework activities booklet
A Temporary Matter
1. Create a diagram of the orientation, complications (rising tension), climax and resolution of the story. 2. How do the characters overcome the narrative complications? 3. From whose perspective is the story told? Why are we denied the other point of view? Whose story is it, Shoba’s or Shukumar’s? 4. How does Lahiri give depth to the characters in the first 2 pages? 5. What evidence of tension does the reader get in the first 2 pages? 6. How have Shoba and Shukumar changed since the still birth? 7. Why do they find it so hard to communicate? Why is it so much easier in the dark? 8. List the revelations that the 2 characters reveal. Why does Shukumar tell Shoba his last revelation? 9. Why does the story end with the Bradfords walking past? 10. Although this story is based on Indian characters, is it necessarily an ‘Indian’ story? 11. How does the title refer to more than just the blackout? 12. Lahiri often gives the reader clues as to what will happen before the characters themselves are aware. What clues are given in this story? 13. Many of Lahiri’s stories use the natural world to underline a theme. How is the natural world used in this story? 14. How important is food in the story? What might it symbolise? 15. Writing task: take a section of this story and change the perspective – tell it from Shoba’s point of view. How would her perspective alter the story? 1 page
Vocabulary: dissertation, superfluous, agrarian, methodically, cavernous, paprika, candelabra, bulbous, dysentery, diction
When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine
1. Who is the narrator of the story? Whose story is it?
2. This is one of the stories that deal with the immigrant experience. How do the adults in the story try to fit into American society? Answer in detail, using examples from the text. 3. Analyse the use of food and the natural world as symbols in this story. 4. What does Lilia represent for Mr Pirzada?
5. Why does Lilia keep eating the candy when Mr Pirzada leaves? Why does she eventually throw the candy away? The Pumpkin Carving:
1. Why does Mr Pirzada decide to ignore the television so they can carve the pumpkin? What does this suggest about his relationship with Lilia?
2. Why is there a close description of what Mr Pirzada is wearing, down to his opal cufflinks? Think about it in the context of wanting to be like Americans. Why then do his clothes ring false?
3. Why do the family and Mr Pirzada eagerly engage in the carving of the pumpkin? What does this suggest about their attitude towards their adoptive country?
4. What similarities are there between Mr Pirzada and the reporter on the television? What effect does this have on the reader?
5. Why does Mr Pirzada seem so competent and confident carving the pumpkin? What does this suggest about him?
6. What effect does the eventual shape and size of the Jack-o-Lantern have on the reader? Why is it important to the story that it does not look correct?
7. Why is this an important passage in the story?
8. What is the significance of Lilia teaching the adults to carve the pumpkin?
Vocabulary: ascertain, autonomy, botany, compatriot, sovereignty, camphor, fez, disproportionate, haphazard, placid
1. Who is the narrator? Whose story is it? What advantages are there in not using the first person in this story? 2. How well has Mrs Sen adjusted to life in the USA? Is she at peace in her new life? Explain, highlighting the struggles she has faced. 3. Why did Mrs Sen insist on driving to the fish store?
4. Secrets are a recurring theme in Lahiri’s stories. What secrets are kept in this story and why? 5. What Indian traditions and customs are highlighted in this story and what is the significance of these to Mr Sen in comparison to his wife as they start their new...
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