Cultural Differences as Described by Jhumpa Lahiri

Essay by irishsurfer2004College, Undergraduate November 2004

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The greatest obstacle faced by people from different cultures is the difference in what they value. Some cultures value religious customs and tradition while others value freedom and individuality. It is sometimes hard for people from different cultures to form relationships when they don't have the same idea of what is right and what is wrong. Jhumpa Lahiri, describes many of these obstacles in the book titled, Interpreter of Maladies.

In the story Interpreter of Maladies, the relationship between an American woman and an Indian man falls apart because of two things, the man learns something about the woman that he finds unacceptable and the woman insults the man's profession. Mrs. Das, an American woman, is in India to see the country with her family. Mr. Kapsi is a tour guide for the family and is also an interpreter in a doctor's office. They become friends very quickly and they both think to themselves that the friendship could become something more.

At the end of their tour, Mrs. Das tells Mr. Kapasi that one of her children doesn't belong to her husband. The child actually belongs to one of his good friends, and her husband does not know. She asks Mr. Kapasi for help because he has an important job as an interpreter. Mr. Kapasi is surprised in two ways. He discovers that she isn't at all what he thought. Instead, she is, "a woman not yet thirty, who loved neither her husband no her children, who had already fallen out of love with life" (Lahiri, 66). Mr. Kapasi also feels like Mrs. Das has insulted his feelings for her, his job, and his need for honesty. When he asks her, "Is it really pain you feel, Mrs. Das, or is it guilt", Mrs. Das becomes angry because...