Interpreter of Maladies Response Paper
The book, Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri is a refreshing addition to an English syllabus. Although America is a diverse country, our English classes seem to reflect that the most note-worthy authors come from a European background. Lahiri’s background has given her insight on Indian, American, and British cultural perspectives, which reign through her stories of family, relationships, and love. A wide audience can appreciate Interpreter of Maladies for its honest portrayals of the human experience.
The characters in all nine stories live lives riddled with complexity and heartbreak. Troubled marriages, broken families, death, the anxiety of beginning a new life in a foreign place…it goes without saying that life can be difficult. Yet there is another quality within the stories: hope. In A Temporary Matter we find ourselves hoping that Shoba and Shukumar will rekindle the flame of love with each passing night in the dark. Like Lilia in When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine we hope that Mr. Pirzada will be safely reunited with his family in Bangladesh. Like the neighbors in The Treatment of Bibi Halder we hope that Bibi can be cured of her ailments. In some of the stories the hope for a better future prevails, but as in life, it doesn't always work out that way. Yet with the start of each new story we inevitably begin to hope again.
The stories are but small glimpses of the character’s lives, an impression that is successfully achieved by Lahiri’s vivid personification of each character. Even after Mrs. Sen’s comes to a close, the question of what will happen next in Eliot or Mrs. Sen’s life feels relevant. Lahiri ends each story with the impression that although life can be devastating, it goes on. Eliot will grow up one day and move out of his mother’s beach house, but whatever happens to him, he will not forget Mrs. Sen. In The Third and Final Continent although Mrs. Croft dies, Mala’s son is born, and we can...
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