Interpreter of Maladies

Poor communication and unexpressed feelings cause distress for characters in the stories.’ Discus In Jhumpa Lahiri’s collection of short stories ‘Interpreter of Maladies’, poor communication and suppressed feelings result in distress for characters. Many protagonists in these stories have all been through some sort of anxiety due to impaired communication with those around them. Mrs Das in ‘Interpreter of Maladies’ seeks consolation for her guilt from Mr Kapasi, whom was having difficulty himself communicating with his wife. In ‘Sexy’, Miranda misinterprets Dav’s meaning of sexy and In ‘A Temporary Matter’, Shoba and Shukumar hardly interacted with each other anymore after their baby died. Mrs In ‘This Blessed House’, newly wed Twinkle and Sanjeev had numerous fights over Christian artefacts found throughout the house.

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Through these stories, Lahiri is trying to convey that healthy communication is essential to maintain connections with people so that we will not fail in many ways such as failure in romance. Usually in a tragedy, husbands and wives would comfort and assuage one another, try putting the past behind and move forward together. Following the stillbirth, both Shoba and Shukumar grieved separately and ever since then their relationship went downhill. However in ‘A Temporary Matter’ this was not the case for Shoba and Shukumar. “Instead he thought of how she and Shukumar had become experts at avoiding each other in their three-bedroom house, spending as much time on separate floors as possible.” Lahiri chooses to write from Shukumar’s point of view so that readers would not be expecting Shoba’s ulterior motive for introducing the game, which was in order to gently reveal she was moving out by herself.

Furthermore, through Shukumar, we can understand what kind of a person Shoba initially was, “She wasn’t this way before.” prior to the incident and also see how much she has changed. “In the beginning he had believed that it would pass, that he and Shoba would get through it all somehow.” Here we can see that Shukumar had hopes that he and Shoba could live normally again, but merely hoping did not solve anything as he clearly did not put effort into making that happen. Instead, the two of them just waited for one another to make a move. Consequently, the stalemate and lack of communication between the two had caused the married couple to be awkward and uncomfortable being around each other, and thus the main cause for the downfall of their marriage.

Mr Kapasi and Mrs Das struggle to interpret each other’s maladies.

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