ENGL: 1800 American Ethnic Literatures
A Temporary Matter
“The notice informed then that it was a temporary matter” (1).
Lahiri’s title of choice for this short story implores both literal and figurative interpretation. While the words appear direct in meaning, they could instead be a metaphoric figure of speech, or rather a deliberate exaggeration to convey something other than the literal meaning. Furthermore, the use of a notice to inform someone of something can often be used as part of a routine. To inform is to give knowledge or a fact to something greater within the subject matter. It can sometimes serve as a form of a common courtesy in providing one with information that they would have not known otherwise. My attraction to words “a temporary matter” is that of the literal meaning versus what the story actually entailed. The title suggests something small and of little importance, whereas the actual outcome of the story resulted in something much more complex and of major significance. I took amusement to Lahiri’s choice of wording in this passage in that she conveyed something of importance with a scale that is unknown, and coupled it with the notion that it had derived from routine. Dually so, what I liked about Lahiri’s writing leading up to the story climax was the portrayal of a couple living a monotonous lifestyle, as she painted pictures in how these two people live their life from day to day. The narrator, Shukumar, is extremely observant and does an excellent job in highlighting the little things in his life. “These days Shoba was always gone by the time Shukumar woke up. He would open his eyes and see the long black hairs she shed on her pillow and think of her, dressed, sipping her third cup of coffee already, in her office downtown, where she searched for typographical errors in textbooks and marked them, in a code she had once explained to him, with an assortment of colored pencils” (4). One could assume that the repetitive actions...
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