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“Interpreter of Maladies” by Jhumpa Lahiri Essay

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Updated: Jan 16th, 2022

Introduction

The Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri presents a story about the native Indians from the USA visiting their original homeland. The main vibes of the plot heavily reflect the author’s sentiments, due to her heritage and most of her life spent in America. However, that is not the only idea that the writer intended to include in her work. One can notice notions reflecting personal and national doubts of the main characters, which leads to the issue of “interpreting”.

Main body

The plot revolves around the trip of the Das Indian family from the USA to India itself. Special attention is given to the relationship between Mrs. Das and Mr. Kapasi, their guide. The latter’s second job as a doctor’s translator has crucial meaning for the plot’s development. According to Mrs. Das’s words in the novel, it can be considered “a big responsibility” (Lahiri, p. 549). The translation aspects between two cultures become noticeable in every move of the family – for example, in the TV knowledge or the children’s amazement of monkeys. They are strangers in an alien environment, which is an actual problem due to the immigration issues in Europe and America. Moreover, the problem has never lost its significance throughout history, as demonstrated by numerous diaspores of immigrants assembled in the USA.

Mr. Kapasi, the “interpreter” slowly discovers the nature of the family through talking with family members and especially Mrs. Das. Finally, Mr. Kapasi must face a personal malady to interpret when Mrs. Das opens to him. His question “Is it really pain you feel, Mrs. Das, or is it guilt?” (Lahiri, p. 557) resonates with the characters and the readers themselves. However, Mrs. Das does not have a chance to answer it, so one must wonder whether she sought relief or forgiveness. Maybe, she wanted to find both, but the bindings of her current situation cut short her intentions.

Conclusion

In the end, one should state that Interpreter of Maladies concentrates on the interaction between the family of Das and Mr. Kapasi to discover the difference in “interpreting” their national and personal perception. Mr. Kapasi was able to grasp the paradox due to the revelations of Mrs. Das and correctly interpreted it. Nonetheless, the readers should decide the sense of interpretation and whether the characters just had to disclose themselves or search for forgiveness.

Works Cited

Lahiri, Jhumpa. “Interpreter of Maladies.” The Story and Its Writer, Compact, edited by Ann Charters, Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2014, pp. 543-558.

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IvyPanda. ""Interpreter of Maladies" by Jhumpa Lahiri." January 16, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/interpreter-of-maladies-by-jhumpa-lahiri/.

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IvyPanda. 2022. ""Interpreter of Maladies" by Jhumpa Lahiri." January 16, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/interpreter-of-maladies-by-jhumpa-lahiri/.

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IvyPanda. (2022) '"Interpreter of Maladies" by Jhumpa Lahiri'. 16 January.

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