Text Response Interpreter of Maladies

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‘Interpreter of Maladies’ explores how one culture adapts to living with another.’ Discuss.

In Jhumpa Lahiri’s short story collection ‘Interpreter of Maladies’, the writer silhouetted the adaption of one culture to live within another in the form of allowing differences to exist and reaching a compromise. Lahiri drew the readers into the witness of different people battling with the obstacles they encounter. While some people like Mrs Sens, fell to the abysm of culture-displacement because of her unwillingness to adjust herself into the new society; whereas for individuals like Mr Kapasi, are stopped by the hindrance of misunderstanding on the way of bridging the culture gap. However, tolerance can resolve the difficulty in the coexisting culture, which is evident in the marriage of Sanjeev and Twinkle.

To begin with, the unwillingness to adapt into a new culture will not allow two cultures to live with one another. This stance was clearly built up in Lahiri’s depiction of Mrs Sen, she came to America with her husband, a professor who adjusted himself finely into the new culture and barely had an understanding of her malady- including the fear of learning to drive and finding the equilibrium of facing new life and homesickness. Learning to drive symbolised to live independently and finally integrating into the American culture, whereas for Mrs Sen, she voiced that she ‘hate it, (I) she hate(s) driving’ after being coerced to drive under Mr Sen’s instruction. Mrs. Sen hatred to drive stemmed from her unwillingness to transform her fear into the courage to change to adapt into the new culture. Also, the fish that she often bought served to illustrate her resistance to accommodate into the new culture, as Mrs Sen recalled solemnly that “everything is there” in India, she relied on fish as a connection to her Indian culture rather than cooking American- style dishes. Under the third-person perspective from Elliot, Mrs. Sens’s story demonstrated that it was not...
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