Interpreter of Maladies Characters
"The Treatment of Bibi Haldar" · "The Third and Final Continent" · Free Quiz Shoba's mother visits Shoba and Shukumar after the baby dies. She is a polite . Mr. Das and Mrs. Das have an apparent distant and contentious relationship. The story takes place over five days, beginning March 19, at the suburban Boston home of a married couple, Shoba and Shukumar. During this week, when they. Take Your Quiz In order for a healthy relation ship to last people need continually spend time and communicate with each other, or the.
After work, she goes to the gym. She also takes on extra projects for work that she does at home during the evenings and weekends. Shukumar stays in bed half the day. Because of the tragedy, his academic advisor has arranged for him to be spared any teaching duties for the spring semester. Shukumar is supposed to be working on his dissertation; instead, he spends most of his time reading novels and cooking dinner. When Shukumar remarks that they will have to eat dinner in the dark because of the power outage, Shoba suggests lighting candles and goes upstairs to shower before dinner.
Shukumar notes that she has left her satchel and sneakers in the kitchen and that since the stillbirth Shoba has "treated the house like a hotel.
This leads him to recall that Shoba used to be prepared for any eventuality. In addition to having extra toothbrushes for last-minute guests, Shoba had stocked their pantry and freezer with homemade foods. After the stillbirth, she had stopped cooking, and Shukumar had used up all the stored food in the past months. Shukumar also notes that Shoba always keeps her bonuses in a bank account in her own name. He thinks that this is for the best, since his mother was unable to handle her financial affairs when his father died.
The narrator explains that Shoba and Shukumar have been eating dinner separately, she in front of the television set, he in front of the computer. Tonight, they will eat together because of the power outage. Shukumar lights candles, tunes the radio to a jazz station, and sets the table with their best china. Shoba comes into the kitchen as the electricity goes off and the lights go out. She says that the kitchen looks lovely and reminisces about power outages in India.
She tells Shukumar that at family dinners at her grandmother's house, when the electricity went off, "we all had to say something"—a joke, a poem, an interesting fact, or some other tidbit. Shoba suggests that she and Shukumar do this, but she further suggests that they each tell the other something they have never revealed before. Shoba begins the game, telling Shukumar that early in their relationship she peeked into his address book to see if she was in it.
Shukumar reveals that on their first date he forgot to tip the waiter, so he returned to the restaurant the next day and left money for him. The next evening, Shoba comes home earlier than usual. They eat together by candlelight again. Then, instead of each going to a different room, Shoba suggests that they sit outside, since it is warm. Shukumar knows that they will play the game again. He is afraid of what Shoba might tell him.
He considers but then discounts several possibilities: Shoba tells Shukumar that she once lied to him, saying that she had to work late when actually she went out with a friend. Shukumar tells her that he cheated on an exam many years earlier. He explains that his father had died a few months before and that he was unprepared for the exam.
Shoba takes his hand, and they go inside. The next day, Shukumar thinks all day about what he will tell Shoba next.
That evening, he tells her that he returned a sweater she gave him as an anniversary gift and used the money to get drunk in the middle of the day. The sweater was a gift for their third anniversary, and Shukumar was disappointed because he thought it unromantic. Shoba tells Shukumar that at a social gathering with his superiors from the university, she purposely did not tell him that he had a bit of food on his chin as he chatted with the department chairman.
They then sit together on the sofa and kiss. The fourth night, Shoba tells Shukumar that she does not like the only poem he has ever had published.
He tells her that he once tore a picture of a woman out of one of her magazines and carried it with him for a week because he desired the woman. They go upstairs and make love. The next day, Shukumar goes to the mailbox and finds a notice that the electric repairs have been completed early. Shukumar is disappointed, but when Shoba arrives home she says, "You can still light the candles if you want.
When Shukumar questions this, she tells him that she has something to tell him and wants him to see her face. He thinks that she is going to tell him that she is pregnant again, and he does not want her to be.
She tells him, instead, that she has signed a lease on an apartment for herself. Shukumar realizes that this revelation has been her planned ending for the game all along.
He decides to tell Shoba something he had vowed to himself that he would never tell her. Shoba does not know that Shukumar held their baby at the hospital while she slept. Shoba does not even know the baby's gender and has said that she is glad that she has no knowledge about the lost child.
Shukumar tells Shoba that the baby was a boy and goes on to describe his appearance in detail, including that the baby's hands were closed into fists the way Shoba's are when she sleeps. The two sit at the table together, and each of them cries because of what the other has revealed. Bradford are neighbors of Shoba and Shukumar.
Shoba and Shukumar see them walking by, arm in arm, on their way to the bookstore on the second night of the power outage. The Bradfords seem to be a happily married couple and as such provide a contrast to Shoba and Shukumar. The narrator mentions that the Bradfords placed a sympathy card in Shoba and Shukumar's mailbox when they lost their baby. Shoba and Shukumar see them on the second night of the power outage, and Shukumar sees them again, through the window, on the last evening of the story.
The first time the Bradfords appear, Mrs. Bradford asks Shoba and Shukumar if they would like to join her and her husband on their walk to the bookstore, but they decline.
Shoba Shoba is a thirty-three-year-old woman who is married to Shukumar. She is described as tall and broad-shouldered. She seems to have been born in the United States of immigrant parents from India, and she has spent considerable time in India visiting relatives. She and her husband now live in a house outside Boston. Shoba works in the city as a proofreader and also takes on extra projects to do at home. She works out at a gym regularly. Six months before the time of the story, Shoba's first child was stillborn.
This tragedy has changed her habits and her relationship with her husband. While she was formerly a neat and enthusiastic housekeeper and cook, she has become careless about the house and has stopped cooking. The narrator remarks that she previously had the habit of being prepared for anything, from keeping extra toothbrushes on hand for last-minute guests to stocking the freezer and pantry with homemade Indian delicacies. Shukumar Shukumar is a thirty-five-year-old doctoral student who is married to Shoba.
He is a tall man with a large build. He, too, seems to be an American-born child of Indian immigrants, but he has spent less time in India than Shoba has. Because of the loss of his child six months earlier, Shukumar has been given a semester away from his teaching duties.
He is supposed to use the time to focus on writing his dissertation on agrarian revolts in India.
However, Shukumar accomplishes little. He stays in bed until midday, doesn't leave the house for days at a time, and often forgets to brush his teeth. He has spent the past months preparing dinners for himself and Shoba using the foods she has stored in the freezer and pantry.
Themes Grief The story takes place six months after the stillbirth of Shoba and Shukumar's first child, and the two are still overwhelmed by grief. Shukumar has withdrawn from the world and seldom leaves the house. He stays in bed half the day, unable to summon the energy and concentration to make progress on his dissertation. Shoba, on the other hand, stays away from the house as much as she can.
She used to be an attentive housekeeper and enthusiastic cook, but the house seems to remind her of her loss.
Interpreter of Maladies Characters
According to Shukumar, she treats the house as if it were a hotel and would eat cereal for dinner if he did not cook. The narrator also reveals that Shoba and Shukumar no longer go out socially or entertain at home. People who suffer the loss of a loved one often go through a period of not wanting to go on living themselves.
They may feel unable to make the effort required to go about daily life. Sadness may drown out all positive emotions. This seems to be true for this couple, and especially of Shukumar. Alienation Shoba and Shukumar's grief has led them to withdraw from each other. Until the nightly power outages began, they avoided each other.
Shoba leaves for work early each morning, returns late, and often brings home extra work to occupy her evenings and weekends. When Shoba is home, Shukumar retreats to his computer and pretends to work on his dissertation.
He has put the computer in the room that was to be the nursery because he knows that Shoba avoids that room. She comes in briefly each evening to tell him goodnight. He resents even this brief interaction, which Shoba initiates only out of a sense of obligation. Shoba and Shukumar do not attempt to comfort or support each other. Each withdraws from the relationship, and they endure their grief as if they were two strangers living in a boardinghouse.
Deception Through the game that Shoba and Shukumar play of revealing secrets, readers learn that deception has been a theme in their relationship. They have lied to each other, and the lies have been selfish ones—told not to spare the other's feelings but to allow the person telling the lie to escape some discomfort or sacrifice. To avoid having dinner with Shukumar's mother, Shoba lied and said she had to work late. Shukumar told Shoba that he lost a sweater she had given him, when in reality he returned the sweater and used the money to get drunk.
As these examples of deception are revealed throughout the story, it is clear that Shoba and Shukumar's emotional estrangement began before the loss of their baby. They have always dealt with difficult situations and unpleasant emotions by lying and keeping secrets. When Shoba breaks the stalemate that their grief has caused by initiating a deceptive game, she is following an established pattern.
Throughout the week of power outages, Shoba appears to be reaching out to Shukumar. In truth, she is engineering her final separation from him. Style Realism through Details Lahiri uses dozens of everyday details to create a realistic context in which the story takes place. When Shukumar recalls the morning he left for Baltimore, he remembers that the taxicab was red with blue lettering. When he wakes up each morning, he sees Shoba's "long black hairs" on her pillow.
The crib in the nursery is made of cherry wood; the changing table is white with mint-green knobs. Taken together, such details comprise a world that readers find familiar. The realism of the environment makes the characters who live in it and the events that take place in it seem real as well.
Conflicting Clues As the story unfolds, Lahiri provides readers with two conflicting sets of clues as to how it might end. Each evening Shoba and Shukumar seem to draw closer to each other both emotionally and physically. As they share long withheld secrets, they hold hands, kiss, and finally make love. It seems as if ghosts that have haunted their marriage are being exorcised. Topics for Further Study Shoba recalls visits to her grandmother's house in Calcutta.
Do research to learn about living conditions in Calcutta for people at various economic levels. Shoba reassures him she is okay and can call him if anything happens. He is embarrassed and uncomfortable that he is a student at thirty-five. Shukumar is happy about becoming a father. They decorate a room as a nursery for the baby. When the baby dies he becomes depressed and withdrawn.
Shukumar holds their deceased baby boy before it is cremated. Shukumar stays home in January and strips the nursery of decorations for a study.
Shoba does not enter his study since she is haunted by the room. Shukumar is raised in New Hampshire, United States. The first time he visits India he nearly dies. He is left with his aunt and uncle in Concord when his parents return to India after that. He likes sailing and ice cream as a teenager more than returning to Calcutta. After Shukumar's father dies while he is in college, he becomes interested in India as a subject.
Shukumar has no Indian childhood stories to tell as Shoba does. She is a polite Indian lady who is very courteous. She is resentful of Shukumar however, and only speaks to him when she comments that he was not at the hospital when Shoba went into labor. During her visit, Shoba tells Shukumar she has to work late when she actually meets Gillian for a drink. Gillian in "A Temporary Matter" Gillian is Shoba's friend from work with whom she secretly has a drink.
Gillian drives Shoba to the hospital when she goes into labor. Shukumar is out of town at an academic conference. Shoba does not want to know its sex and agrees with Shukumar the doctor would not tell them its sex. Shukumar holds the dead baby boy and keeps its sex a secret until Shoba tells him she is moving to an apartment. Lilia in "When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine" Lilia is a ten year-old Indian girl who lives with her parents in a city north of Boston.
She is not exposed to a world beyond what her parents share with her or what she learns in school. Her father worries that she learns little about her nationality in the school she attends.
Lilia tries to read about Pakistan, a country she hears about from television news, her father and their guest Mr. When her teacher sees Lilia reading a book in the library about Pakistan, she tells her if it's not about her report it doesn't matter.
Lilia is a curious young girl who is caught between learning about the world her parents want her to know about and her teacher who tells her it doesn't matter. She is reminded by her parents how much she avoids by growing up in America rather than India. Lilia tries to learn about her country in school but is told it doesn't matter.
She lives an Indian lifestyle at home and is told only American culture matters at school. Lilia is trained to welcome Mr. Pirzada by taking his coat as an Indian girl should. She appreciates savors and saves the little candies he gives her when he arrives for dinner. Lilia's father insists she watch the news with them, so she sees how children her age survive in India.
She worries about Mr. Pirzada and his family. Lilia says a prayer while she eats one piece of candy to show her concern. She is not taught about prayer, so she believes it is more effective if she doesn't rinse the candy out of her mouth by brushing her teeth. When the conflict between India and Pakistan ends, Mr. Pirzada returns to his family. Lilia believes her prayers are answered and has no more need for the candy. Pirzada in "When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine" Mr.
Pirzada is from Pakistan. He lives in Boston on a government grant to study New England foliage. He has a wife, seven daughters and a home in Dacca, Pakistan that he leaves to study in America. He is a regular dinner guest of Lilia's parents. Pirzada dresses in well-matched suits that he wears to dinner with Lilia and her family.
He walks to their home, twenty minutes from the university where he lectures. He worries about his family, which he has not seen in six months. He carries a watch set to Pakistan time. When he sits down to eat he takes out the watch to remind himself of his family.
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There is trouble between the governments of his country and India. Although Lilia and her parents are Indian they share many customs, habits and lifestyles with the Pakistani Mr. He is particularly worried about his wife and daughters because he has not heard from them during this time of civil unrest. Lilia's parents and Mr. Pirzada watch the evening news together. They hope to hear positive developments from their shared and neighboring homelands.
Interpreter of Maladies Study Guide
Nightly news indicates a worsening situation. Pakistan refugees are leaving for India and he becomes more concerned about his family. In October he notices pumpkins on his walk.
He learns about the American custom of carving a pumpkin for Halloween. That activity gives him a break from the depressing news. He brings Lilia a box of mints for trick or treat. Pirzada shows concern to the American customs of his Indian friends, even in the midst of his own sadness. Pakistan and India declare war. Pirzada stays over some nights at Lilia's parent's house. He returns to Pakistan and his family in January.
His wife and daughters spend the war time with relatives and are safe. He writes to Lilia's family to let them know. Pirzada's Wife in "When Mr.
Pirzada's wife stays in Dacca with her daughters until war begins to break out. She moves with them to her relative's house but is unable to keep in touch with her husband because of the war. Pirzada's Daughters in "When Mr. Pirzada has seven daughters whose names he has difficulty remembering. His wife insists on naming them with names starting with the letter A. They stay with their mother in Pakistan. Pirzada misses them and worries because he does not hear from them.
Lilia's Father in "When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine" Lilia's father is an Indian male who insists Lilia watch television during initial conflicts with Pakistan.
He explains that Mr. Pirzada is Pakistani when she asks if she should set a glass for the Indian man.
Lilia's father fears she does not learn about India in American schools. He asks if she is aware of what is going on and what they teach her at school. Lilia's Mother in "When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine" Lilia's mother shares their home and prepares meals for countrymen of the India-Pakistan area who live in or are visiting America.
Lilia's mother and her husband find compatriots at the university by searching the roster for Indian and Pakistani names. Dora in "When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine" Dora is Lilia's childhood friend who tells her when the teacher comes into the library. Dora and Lilia trick or treat together on Halloween.
Dora asks her about Mr. Her parents drive Lilia home after they walk their Halloween trick or treat route. Raj and his wife have three children and live in Brunswick, New Jersey. He teaches middle school science. Raj and his wife are visiting their parents who retired in India. Raj takes his family on a tour.
He dresses and acts like a typical American tourist wearing a T-shirt, shorts, sneakers and camera hanging around his neck. While on the tour he consults an Indian tour guidebook as his tour authority. He checks it for accuracy of any distance or travel time estimates the tour guide makes. Raj often asks to stop to take pictures on the tour.
Das have an apparent distant and contentious relationship. Das argues with Mr. Das about whose turn it is to take their daughter to the toilet. Mina Das takes Tina but lets her return alone. Mina shops at the tea stall to buy something from a man who is not wearing a shirt. Das wears a short skirt and tight-fitting blouse.
While on the tour she does her nails. Das is fully self-centered. She tells Tina to leave her alone, complains the car is not air-conditioned and criticizes Raj for saving fifty cents. When he asks to stop for a picture she acts bored or irritated. She flirts with Mr. Kapasi by saying his medical job is romantic and lifts her sunglasses to catch his eye in the rearview mirror.
Mina encourages him to tell her more and offers him gum. Das flatters him by saying how responsible his job is. She invites him to sit with them at lunch and asks for his address. When they stop at the hills for a hike, she says her legs are tired and asks Mr.
Kapasi to stay with her. Mina gets into the front seat with him. On the tour Mina shows hostility and boredom with her husband but expresses interest in Mr.
The way she dresses, words she uses and interest she shows in Mr. Kapasi excite him, whether or not she intends to or even realizes it. Mina Das may just want his attention so she will feel comfortable telling her secret. Mina keeps the secret of her affair with Raj's friend since Bobby's conception eight years earlier. Kapasi will relieve her of the bad feelings she has had since then.
Mina takes eight years and all day with Mr. Kapasi's patient stories to trust he will be able to cure her malady. Her hopes of a remedy disappear when he suggests she just feels guilty. Mina wants to retaliate by insulting him but stomps away to her family instead. They argue over whose turn it is to help her. Raj refers to her mother as Mina when asking Tina where she is. Mina tells Tina to leave her alone and to play with her doll when they are touring in the car. He gets out of the car to watch the goat.
He yells from inside the car when he sees the monkeys. Mina Das stays at home to take care of Ronny when he is a baby. She sees few friends during that time. Raj tells him to watch Ronny but Bobby says he doesn't feel like it.
Mina confides in Mr. Kapasi that Bobby's birth father is not Raj. The monkeys surround and attack Bobby. Kapasi saves him and carries Bobby back to Mina. Kapasi in "Interpreter of Maladies" Mr.
Kapasi is a favorite Indian tour guide because he speaks English. He is forty-six years old and has receding silver hair. Kapasi enjoys being a tour guide and likes the Sun Temple tour destination.
During the week he works as an interpreter for a doctor. Was someone insistent on the distinction? How do you feel about it now that you know about the differences?
Lilia is curious about that part of the world, but her teachers teach American history and frown on her looking up the information about Pakistan on her own because it is not relevant to the work she is doing in school. It is also about people who immigrate to the United States and who raise their American-born child in the new country.
Read and analyze the following poem. Pirzada Came to Dine. The surf of my heart? The girls with their twirling skirts of memory, Who go down to the waves, soaking their garments. Whose hearts were white. Whose skin was dark. Now I live where these colors are reversed.
The swells were so blue there. Yes, we there sometimes hated our blackness. But in secret, in secret we loved it even more. You tell me our life here is new. And I believe you. I believe them too. Their loud loud voices.
In numbers in my notebook. The flag above my desk. Inside my chest I still hold corridors of sunlight. Villages where palms and pomegranates and linen blow. Streets where people simply walk, day by day, into their lives. The dust beneath their soles. No longer your angel. Pirzada visits during the autumn of from Dacca. Why is he in America? Why is he apprehensive about his family back home?
Why is it that Mr. Throughout the story, the candy is held in great esteem. Why does Lilia eventually throw the candy away 42? Setting as primary element, themes, symbols, characterization Activator: What inferences can you make about the characters in the story based on the descriptions? Are there any clues about the dynamics of the family or their culture? At the tea stall Mr. Das bickered about who should take Tina to the toilet.
Das relented when Mr. As they waited at the tea stall, Ronny clambered suddenly out of the back seat, intrigued by the goat tied to a stake in the ground. She was holding to her chest a doll with yellow hair that looked as if it had been chopped, as a punitive measure, with a pair of dull scissors.
Both the man and the bullocks were emaciated. Assiduously adverb — Example: Das headed up the defile with the children, the boys at his side, the girl on his shoulders, and they crossed paths with a Japanese couple. Finish reading to pg. Write the letter Mr. Kapasi thinks he will receive with the pictures from Mrs. Kapasi see the Dases as distinctly foreign and American even though they are of Indian heritage? Many families around the world have different issues and conflicts they must resolve.
The Dases are no exception. Analyze the interactions Mr. Das have with each other. What seems to be amiss in their relationship? Then write a prediction about whether or not they will stay together by the end of the trip. Why or why not? Das have two differing opinions about Mr. With whom do you agree? People can have different facets to their personalities.
Then write about how it relates to the story or to one or more characters in the story. These eyes have something to say. Come, come meet these eyes. Come, come meet these eyes, sketches of shadow, smudge and line. Find their truth, discover their lies, look into eyes with faces left behind. Sketches of shadow, smudge and line, write the stories these eyes tell, look into eyes with faces left behind.
Let yourself slide under their spell. Kapasi is often assigned to foreign tourists because he can speak English. What were his first impressions of Indian-American family?
Interpreter of Maladies Study Guide
How has Kapasi acquired his knowledge of western culture? Das explains that he and Mrs. Das were born and raised in America and only visits his retired parents in India every few years.