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Lahiri Reading Questions

Lahiri, Jhumpa.  Interpreter of Maladies.  1999.

“When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine”

  • How does Lilia’s mother defend her lack of knowledge about Pakistan and India?  Is this a good defense?
  • On p. 30 the Lilia says that once she learned that Mr. Pirzada was not Indian, she began to study him, to see what was different.  What did she find?
  • How does Lilia situate herself in America? Does she feel American?  Consider, for example, her comments on pp. 32-33.
  • How does Lilia’s position as a child relate to the adults around her?
  • Note how the adults, despite their differences, become one body in this situation. (p. 41)

“Interpreter of Maladies”

  • What does Mr. Kapasi think of the Das?  How can you feel their cultural differences?
  • What do you think is the significance of Mr. Das’ guidebook?
  • How would you compare Mr. Das and Mr. Kapasi? (Note guidebook: etc. p. 46, ,Mr. Das says they have a lot in common)
  • What’s going on between Mrs. Das and Mr. Kapasi?
  • How does marriage, in this story, seem to frustrate the desires of the characters? (pp. 52-53, 58, 59, 60, 64, 65)
  • On p. 64 Mr. K asks Mina if she feels pain or guilt?  What do you think this means? What is the difference between the two?  If Mr. K asked the question of himself, what would his answer be?
  • On p. 68 Mr. Kapasi is tempted to whisper a secret into Bobby’s ear. Why is he tempted to do this?
  • What do you think is the picture in Mr. K’s mind at the end of the story?
  • What does the title mean? (see p. 51, )  Why was it chosen as the title of this collection?

“The Third and Final Continent”

  • How does the moon landing serve as a point of comparison with the narrator? Is this apt? What is the effect of this?
  • How do you see a clash of cultures in this story?
  • What is the significance of Mrs. Croft’s age? (fragility, reminds narrator of his mother, so much has changed, can’t impose her order on things)
  • What is the nature of marriage in this story? (p. 181, 189, 190, 192, 193, 195, 196 )
Read last three paragraphs again. What does the last sentence mean? What does the title mean?
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