Interpreter of Maladies

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Caitlin Glade
English 101
Interpreter of Maladies
Loneliness is something that can drive someone to the brink of insanity. There have been studies where people who have not had human interaction in a long period of time can’t function in normal society. In Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumoa Lahiri we get a glimpse into the life of a seemingly happy man only to see how lonely he really is. Mr. Kapasi is a tour guide and as he takes an American family on a tour to an Indian temple we start to realize that he is not living the life he had always wanted. He is in fact living a life filled with loneliness and failed dreams. Mr. Kapasi is unhappy with his life and that is revealed though his interactions with the Das family.

Mr. Kapasi is a tour guide in India, however he had never intended to end up that way. Kapasi had big dreams for himself. “In his youth he’d been a devoted scholar of foreign languages … He had dreamed of being an interpreter for diplomats and dignitaries … settling disputes of which he alone could understand” (89). Kapasi got stuck, stuck in a rut that he had never thought he would be caught in, so when Mrs. Das stated that she had thought his job “romantic” (88) he couldn’t help but feel that the job he thought was a failure was a bit more pleasing. It is here that Kapasi starts to grow intrigued with Mrs. Das. As Mr. Kapasi starts to build this internal fantasy relationship between him and Mrs. Das, we get to see how truly lonely his life has become. The reason Mr. Kapasi never got to work for “diplomats and dignitaries” (89) was because of an unfortunate event involving his son. “He had taken the job as an interpreter after his first son…contracted typhoid – that was how he made the acquaintance of the doctor…In the end the boy had died one evening in his mother’s arms…” (90). Mr. Kapasi continued to work for the doctor to help pay for his son’s funeral and to try and ease his wife’s pain by treating her to nice things. This approach...
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