³Interpreter of Maladies´ by Jhumpa Lahiri : Notes by Jennifer Mignano Brady Interpreter of Maladies is a Pulitzer Prize winning collection of short

stories (PUB 1999) Themes & Major Concepts  Misconception & Misinterpreting-both verbal and behavioral cues (The paper at the end becomes a symbol of a misinterpreted connection between Kapasi and Mrs. Das. It floats into the air , whipping into the wind off into nothing.. Non-existence ± similar to their non-existing relationship.  Emotional Turmoil displayed through the characters ± Both Mrs. Das and Kapasi share that in common. However, Mrs. Das¶ turmoil is masked by her indifference whereas Kapasi¶s is masked by his position in life (interpreting and helping others when he could not help his wife) Kapasi was hoping to share a  Intimacy and Lack thereof. romantic intimacy with Mrs. Das. This takes place in his mind (the imaginative mind). On the contrary, Mrs. Das is searching for a fatherly, guiding and helpful figure so she can purge her sins and is free of guilt (religious connection) Gods Interpreter? This was not well received by Kapasi. Therefore presenting the reader with a theme of ³ A Mismatched Encounter´.  Maladies ± The title itself is the main idea of the story. The Secret Mrs. Das is carrying is the malady. ( re-current theme therefore becomes a motif) Maladies- Disorder/Disease usually Deep Rooted Kapasi Mrs. Das Capable of curing patients ailment Not satisfied with her life, simply situation and Due to his skill ± Interpreting Her inability to be cured by Kapas Able to interpret his own maladies Her confession (in which she neede such Be cured/by interpretation) render As failure and unhappiness in his her Marriage. The loss of his son. Maimed and left in the same place Was in before. 

Failure ± Both on the part of Mrs. Das and Kapasi ± His failure as a husband, father and international interpreter for diplomats and dignitaries (career). Her failure to live up to her expectations as mother and wife. Dishonesty and deceit. Ties into unsuccessful/poor marriages.  Living In between Worlds ± Indian/American 

Resentment ± Kapasi¶s wife resents his job and his failure to save their son.  Accomplishments without recognition ±In Kapasi¶s mind his job is recognized and appreciate by Mrs. Das ± there lays the attraction ± an emotional attraction both created and destroyed in the mind of the character.  Desire ± To feel wanted, appreciated and noticed. This goes along with Accomplishments without recognition.  Fantasizing. This is a very interesting concept in that it gives way to a variety of interpretations to this modernistic piece. As part of the human condition, we as individuals are able to create and perceive maybe even misinterpret our own behavior and the behavior of others. More importantly, we are capable of fantasizing. In a fantasy we role play giving ourselves the ability to create an alternate world where the one who is fantasizing (the creator of this alternate world) is in control, fulfills his/her desires and walks away with a sense of satisfaction/gratification. ³ She would write to him, asking about his days interpreting at the doctor¶s office, and he would respond eloquently, choosing only the most entertaining anecdotes, ones that would make her laugh«.. In this way their friendship would grow and flourish. He would possess a picture of them eating fried onions under a magenta umbrella´ (Lahiri 55).  Life that gets in the way of living ± Having to come to terms with responsibility, raising a family etc.«. instead of ones personal needs.

Cited Sources : Some ideas and notions were taken from Noor and Lewis in their analysis of Interpreter of Maladies.

According to Ronny Noor in his review of Interpreter of Maladies, "The value of these stories--although some of them are loosely constructed--lies in the fact they transcend the confined borders of immigrant experience to embrace larger human issues, age-old issues that are, in the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, "cast into the mould of these new times" redefining America. So it is not surprising that the title story of Jhumpa Lahiri's laudable collection has been selected for both The Best American Short Stories and the year 1999's O. Henry Award" (2000).

Further Questions for Discussion/ Analysis ± Follow UP! What happens to people when they are unhappy in their relationships?

Idea for the Blog ± Homework Assignment ± Responses posted ON BLOG! Post Modernism ± As previously studied in class post modernism as a literary period is best defined as ³highly skeptical of explanations which claim to be valid for all groups, cultures, traditions, or races, and instead focuses on the relative truths of each person. In the postmodern understanding, interpretation is everything; reality only comes into being through our interpretations of what the world means to us individually. Postmodernism relies on concrete experience over abstract principles, knowing always that the outcome of one's own experience willnecessarily be fallible (imperfect, not prescribed) and relative, rather than certain and universal´ (pbs.org). Lahiri writes from the same post modernist perspective. If you recall my lecture on Updike back in February we highlighted the behavior of the character Sammy as a postmodern piece of ³work as it explores the human complexities and therefore creates a new perspective simply because it explores human relationships´ (Brady Lecture 2/11). Re-Read Interpreter of Maladies by Lahiri. Think about the ways in which Lahiri characterizes Mrs. Das and Mr. Kapasi. ± Answer the following How does the Interpreter of Maladies exemplify a work of Post Modernism? How do the complexities of the human condition (human behavior and relationships) as seen through the characters made possible by the author reflect deeply in this work. Think about both perspective and purpose? Post your answers on the blog ± 2 -3 paragraphs ± Under the comments section of this assignment. Provide concrete examples and quotes (in text citation). Once you have responded - comment on another classmates response ± your response to other members of our learning community can be anywhere between 2-4 sentences long. Have Fun!

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful