The Story “Interpreter of Maladies”, by Jhumpa Lahiri

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Fantasy vs. Reality
The story “Interpreter of Maladies”, by Jhumpa Lahiri, the major theme is self-reflection. The main characters Mr. Kapasi and Mrs. Das, dwell on there past but once they meet they both were looking for excuses to move on. In comparison, the story “Half a Grapefruit” by Alice Munro has to do with the same concept, if you read in between the lines. Rose sees herself better than the people that surround her. She tries very hard to be better than them, but does not succeed. However, it makes her feel better about herself and her life in general, just like Mr. Kapasi and Mrs. Das are trying to better their lives. In the two stories, the authors illustrate the struggles to find happiness within their main characters lives; to stop living with regrets of the past, they both show that only an escape from reality will result in a realization of their meaningful existence.

The female characters in both stories are alike in some ways. They believe in a similar life style. Mrs. Das lives the life style that Rose fantasizes to have, which makes them similar in an odd sense. “Puffed Rice in the summertime”(Munro 41). Throughout the tour Mrs. Das snacks on Puffed Rice, just as Rose pretends to have for breakfast, “She walked slowly, carrying some puffed rice tossed with peanuts and chili peppers in a large packet made from newspaper”(Lahiri 60). Even though Mrs. Das’ puffed rice is packed in newspaper, which means she probably bought it at the hotel, it still seems to be a common thing to eat for wealthy people, especially during summer times according to both stories. Rose wants to be someone she is not. She truly wishes to be at a higher rank than the people in her town. This is likely to be the reason why Rose listed it in the breakfasts, because she believes it is a fancy food to eat, such as half a grapefruit is, “The first morning the Puffed Rice, light as pollen, came spilling into the bowl, was as festive, as encouraging a time as the first day walking on the hard road without rubbers or the first day the door could be left open in the lovely, brief time between frost and flies”(Munro 41). Half a grapefruit is not available to buy in any of the stores in her town, which is why she announced that is what she ate. It is out of the ordinary for the children in her class to have eaten this. Rose accepts the fact that she is different than the other children in her class. This is what she wants. She wants to be different. It gives her mental pleasure. Eventhough the other children tease her for it, she is content to know this fact of differentiation.

In both stories there is secrecy. This secrecy shows in most ways that the characters feel guilty about something, that must have happened in their past. This quilt or maybe even regret is one of the big struggles within the stories. Both female characters have secrets from their close friends and/or families, whatever the case may be. Mrs. Das keeps one of the biggest secrets a married woman could keep from her husband. The reason she keeps it from him, is because the truth hurts her; the guilt. She claims it is pain she is feeling, but deep down she knows it is guilt, because when Mr. Kapasi confronts her about it she gets offended, “She turned to him and glared, mustard lips on her frosty pink lips. She opened her mouth to say something, but as she glared at Mr. Kapasi some certain knowledge seemed to pass before her eyes, and she stopped” (Lahiri 79). This means that she is keeping the truth from her self, aswell. This terrible feeling eats her up inside. Mr. Kapasi’s response was not very appealing to Mrs. Das. Once she thought about what he had said, she realized the truth of the matter. She looked at the life she had now, and realized that it wasn’t that bad. She could have been happy all along by not dwelling on the past.. She kept this terrible feeling, because it seems that she was very afraid of hurting her husband and tearing apart their family. On...
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