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Title - Cultural Conflicts in Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies

K. Balaji Sundharam

Assistant Professor of English

Agurchand Manmull Jain College (Shift-II)

(Affiliated to the University Madras)

 Minambakkam, India



Interpreter of Maladies is an accumulation of nine short stories embodied characters of Indian drop living in the United States. There is a collection of plots inside of the accumulation that portrays a various society of immigrants. For example, the stories' characters range from kids attempting to comprehend their home lives versus their school lives, to youthful grown-ups uncertain of being American and their association with their legacy, lastly more seasoned grown-ups who constantly battle to acknowledge their new lives and overlook their old. These characters respond distinctively to their family, companions, and foes, containing an impartial outline of how fluctuated India foreigners 'identities are in spite of their regular ethnic foundation. It endeavours to smash past by concentrating on a wide range of characters, places, and plots inside of the same verifiable and social setting. Jhumpa Lahiri couldn't get away from her legacy, in light of the fact that it is inside of her hereditary material.  

Keywords- Indian literature, Culture, Identities, Immigrations


The title 'Interpreter of maladies' may be changed over to 'Interpreter of troubles’ and in reference to this content it is utilized to depict numerous things. As a matter of first importance, it is the title of the book as a whole. Cases in point, the nine stories inside of the book are illustrations of different parts of Indian immigrants' lives in America. Every story deciphers the characters' penances, battles, and triumphs, therefore, the inconvenience they independently experience to survive. Then again, ‘Interpreter of Maladies’ is the title of a specific story in the book making it have numerous implications inside of the content. For example, the story concentrates on Mr Kapasi, whose occupation is to decipher patients' illnesses in a healing centre where little Gujarat is talked. Inside of the story he is giving a visit to a family whose folks' marriage is falling flat, the wife/mother.

Mrs Das trusts that one of their children is not her spouse's youngster and asks Mr Kapasi for his assistance with this disease, her mystery. He concedes, in any case, that he is just an Interpreter of language, not of her blame. Lahiri's Indian legacy frames the premise for her short stories; stories in which she manages inquiries of personality, estrangement and the situation of the individuals who are culturally dislodged. She strikingly demonstrates the alienation and segregation that frequently torment first-and even second-generation migrants. In spite of the fact that the settler experience is fundamental to her work, it is not her elite concern: in the title story, she proposes, through her characters, that 'diseases 'inconvenience every one of us. This adds to our comprehension of other individuals and of us. Lahiri utilizes her intense forces of perception, together with her own encounters, to make stories those vehicle readers to a fanciful scene, investigating and uncovering the frailties normal to all of humankind.

Every one of Lahiri's stories rotates around individuals who are either Indian in India, Indian in the United States or Americans of Indian descent. Further, the stories can be isolated into particular groupings and affiliations, in light of their connection to Indian society. The primary and most evident gatherings of stories are the two that are situated in India itself, and concern just Indians in India: 'The Treatment of BibiHaldar' and 'A Real Durwan'. Here, Lahiri investigates the components of Indian culture that have not been quieted or changed by the relationship with the outside world. Both of the principal characters BibiHaldarand Boori Ma have qualities and encounters that are particular to Indian culture, a large portion of which couldn't exist somewhere else. These ladies are both subject to the harsh mores of an Indian culture that seems to render them frail. It is helpful to connect these two stories with the main other story set in India, which depicts an Indian man who comes into contact with an American group of Indian plunge. The title story, 'An Interpreter of Maladies', not just represents the fundamental topic uniting the stories, the "diseases" that harass Lahiri's different characters, additionally connects the geographic separation between the subcontinent of India and mainland North America. Mr Kapasi does not comprehend the sightseers in his taxi, who look Indian in spite of their outside characteristics and conduct. This quick disarray focuses to one of Lahiri's significant topics –that of disjunction between societies. Through this story, Lahiri investigates the association between her stories.

In the other hand, she concerns original Indians who are unavoidably estranged from American society on the grounds that they have left the area in which they were brought up. Mrs. Sen, while still very youthful, is made to appear to be old on the grounds that she can't adjust to life in America. She is a totally dislodged individual who longs just for India and makes no endeavour to absorb. In a comparative manner, Mr. Pirzada lives in America yet is totally consumed by what is going on in the war in his country, where his wife youngsters still.

Numerous stories of Lahiri focus on marriage and connections, especially the masterminded relational unions that support Indian culture. 'A Temporary Matter', 'Attractive', 'This Blessed House' and 'The Third and Final Continent', while additionally depicting important characters attempting to adjust to American society, harp on the intricacies of marriage and the troubles that all people have in adjusting to life as a crew.

Culturally, a short story cycle incorporates autonomous stories with comparable characters and areas that lead the readers through the book. Be that as it may, Interpreter of Maladies, components autonomous and assorted characters, diverse account perspectives, and different districts, along these lines testing the established short story cycle structure, Interpreter of Maladies endeavors to effectively speak to a whole group inside of the confinement of a solitary work and Lahiri succeeds by blending a mixed bag of portrayals as opposed to offering just a solitary representation the same number of books or single short stories do. In any case, through these differentiating components, Lahiri makes an adjusted representation of Indian settler society. She utilizes the stories to delineate the numerous parts of the public and spots these parts carefully to compare them with each other and make a widespread entirety. This parity is shown through the duping spouses in "Attractive" and the deceiving Mrs. Das of 'Mediator of Maladies.' Also, Lilia of 'When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine' partakes no sweat in American adolescence and this is adjusted by the partition of the Dixit youngsters in "Sexy."

At last, the first and last stories of the book, 'A Temporary Matter' and 'The Third and Final Continent' most plainly recommend an adjusting talk through the parallelism of their essential plots. The main story 'A Temporary Matter' portrays the demise of a child and a ruinous marriage; be that as it may, the last story 'The Third and Final Continent' tells a story of the survival of both the folks' marriage and their child. Hence, Jhumpa Lahiri carefully puts 'A Temporary Manner' first keeping in mind the end goal to show the conceivable disappointment and the courage required for the characters in 'The Third and Final Continent' to succeed.

The social conflict is vital to Lahiri's stories. Its treatment is not restricted; in any case, to the experience in the middle of India and America, however the conflict can happen on both sides of the wilderness. “Interpreter of Maladies”, the accumulation's title story, manages the experience between an Indian cabdriver and visit guide, likewise a talented language specialist, Mr. Kapasi and an Indian American family visiting India. The conflicts are seen by Mr. Kapasi from the begins nonnative’s as they "looked Indian, yet dressed as immigrants did" Interpreter of Maladies (p.44). During their first experience, Mr. Das has a quality of certainty given by the way that "Mina and I were both conceived in America" (p.45). The Das family can't be confused for Indian, in spite of the fact that they do look so. They are and carry on American. Mr. Das can't manage without his visit book, which gives the data he supposes he needs to gain information of India. What mixes his interest is the exoticism of the individuals and spots in India. The Das family's experience with India is an illustration of fizzled intercultural correspondence. Mr. furthermore, Mrs. Das doesn't attempt to a feeling of having a place, however, they are fairly excited about reasserting their way of life as Americans. Yet, amid the outing they take to the Sun Temple in Konarak, Mr. Kapasi feels he relates to Mrs. Das. He finds in her the same misery he felt about his own marriage. "The signs, he perceived from his own marriage arrived the quibbling, the apathy, and the extended hushes” (p.53). Be that as it may, correspondence is upset once more, as Mr. Kapasi was searching for a companion, while Mrs. Das was searching for somebody to "decipher her regular, inconsequential minimal mystery," (p.66) which is the reason he felt profoundly offended. Mrs. Das misconstrued 'the mediator of diseases.' She needed some solution for cure her awareness, hoping to feel better and assuaged. Mr. Kapasi needed rather to "satisfy his fantasy, of serving as a mediator between countries." (p.59)

Due to the topic of the stories, it is fairly hard to locate an equalizer to keep the accumulation together. Obviously, the main tying component is Indianness. Yet, to say that Lahiri's fundamental concern is the status of the Indian foreigner in America, or, best case scenario, the tricky state of the Indians in India would intend to over-streamline and overlook a large number of the issues from which a great part of the aesthetic force of Lahiri's stories is inferred. Pundits themselves thought that it was hard to deliver a predictable assessment of Lahiri's stories and to unerringly recognize the author's position to the Indian or American community.

Interpreter of Maladies closures with The Third and Final Continental story not of death but rather of new life not of misfortune but rather of increase and development. Lahiri amplifies the thought of social differences past the conventional origination of society. Her characters experience serious circumstances like passings of youngsters, extreme ailments, extramarital issues, and movement and are included in noteworthy connections. The closure of every story comes much like the completion of any event, all things considered. It's not exactly fixed in but rather with a sentiment conclusion and development those gives- “A sense of exile and the potential for and frequent denial of human communication that can be found in all of Lahiri's short stories.” (Brada-Williams, Noelle: Reading Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies as a Short Story Cycle 2004: p.454-55)


Lahiri's gathering concentrates not just on men and ladies' battle to make association additionally on the loss of association between individuals. Distress or a serious feeling of misfortune can bring about a break in the association. Connections that are based on an association that is not shared or stable have a negligible shot of progress. Her characters paying little mind to this shakiness look for a feeling of association with individuals, they barely know for the suspicion that all is well and good it gives. These characters are not ready to shape their substances not on account of they don't have the capacity but instead in light of the fact that they don't know how to place themselves in their reality. The youngsters' in the book too appear to be in any way hunting down a character. They don't essentially pick one before the end of the story, however, are still in amazement and wonder at the decisions accessible to them.


Lahiri, Jhumpa. Interpreter of Maladies. Flamingo, HarperCollins. 2000. 

Brada-Williams, Noelle: Reading Jhumpa Lahiri's Interpreter of Maladies as a Short Story Cycle. MELUS 29.3/4(Fall/Winter issue), 2004. Print