Tim Obrien

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“My Two Lives”: The life of Lahiri
In March of 2006, an article was written for Newsweek magazine by an author who received a numerous amounts of awards for a collection of short stories. Jhumpa Lahiri’s article “My Two Lives” gives insight into her view on growing up “Indian-American”. In the short story “Interpreter of Maladies”, a makeshift tour guide spends the day driving around an “Indian-American” family, the Das family. Mr. Kapasi represents the traditional Indian ways, while the Das family is outwardly influenced by the American culture they live in. Lahiri says that both of these cultures make her who she is. It is in the article that the two cultures collide for Lahiri. Admitting the struggle she had trying to remain loyal to two cultures, the source of inspiration for Lahiri’s writing is revealed allowing the reader a more in depth look at her stories.

Born in London, Lahiri journeyed to the states as a young child. Due to her age at immigration, she felt the urge to identify with American culture. A second culture was living under the same roof as the young Lahiri though, making it hard for her to feel a complete belonging to the American culture. Trying to remain loyal to her heritage but fluent in the culture she was exposed to daily proved to be a struggle. She states that she went to lengths to hide her bicultural life from friends and schoolmates. Speaking Bengali at home and English at school, Lahiri was bilingual. It was school and media that allowed for such an emersion of the American culture. The conflict of comparing cultures and the clashes they create can be seen in Lahiri’s works.

Denying her heritage was not an option for Lahiri, and her second culture was profound. Having a distinct appearance set her aside from other children. Her parents alone, Lahiri claims, set her apart even from other immigrant offspring. While other children had generations removing them from their homelands, Lahiri only had herself. Her parents told...
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