Caitlin Glade English 101 Interpreter of Maladies Loneliness is something that can drive someone to the brink of insanity. There have been studies where people who have not had human interaction in a long period of time can’t function in normal society. In Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumoa Lahiri we get a glimpse into the life of a seemingly happy man only to see how lonely he really is. Mr. Kapasi is a tour guide and as he takes an American family on a tour to an Indian temple we start to realize that he is not living the life he had always wanted.
He is in fact living a life filled with loneliness and failed dreams. Mr. Kapasi is unhappy with his life and that is revealed though his interactions with the Das family. Mr. Kapasi is a tour guide in India, however he had never intended to end up that way. Kapasi had big dreams for himself. “In his youth he’d been a devoted scholar of foreign languages … He had dreamed of being an interpreter for diplomats and dignitaries … settling disputes of which he alone could understand” (89).
Kapasi got stuck, stuck in a rut that he had never thought he would be caught in, so when Mrs. Das stated that she had thought his job “romantic” (88) he couldn’t help but feel that the job he thought was a failure was a bit more pleasing. It is here that Kapasi starts to grow intrigued with Mrs. Das. As Mr. Kapasi starts to build this internal fantasy relationship between him and Mrs. Das, we get to see how truly lonely his life has become. The reason Mr.
Kapasi never got to work for “diplomats and dignitaries” (89) was because of an unfortunate event involving his son. “He had taken the job as an interpreter after his first son…contracted typhoid – that was how he made the acquaintance of the doctor…In the end the boy had died one evening in his mother’s arms…” (90). Mr. Kapasi continued to work for the doctor to help pay for his son’s funeral and to try and ease his wife’s pain by treating her to nice things. This approach didn’t ease his wife’s pain however she just grew distant and resentful.
For “he knew [his job] reminded her of the son she’d lost. ” (80). His wife never asked how work was or about his patients that he had helped, for she hated them all. They were all the people that survived when her son did not. And thus we are given a clear passage way to the roots of Mr. Kapasi’s loneliness. Throughout the short story the reader gets a glimpse into the life of Mr. Kapasi and as the story progresses it is clear that the main conflict is an internal one that Mr.
Kapasi is facing. Mr. Kapasi is a lonely character, he feels he has failed himself by not getting the job he had always dreamed of, so when Mrs. Das expresses an interest he can’t help but be intrigued. “It flattered Mr. Kapasi that Mrs. Das was intrigued by his job. Unlike his wife, she had reminded him of it’s intellectual challenges. She had also used the word “romantic”. She did not behave in a romantic way toward her husband, and yet she used the word to describe him”(90).
Mr. Kapasi notices all of the horrid things about this family and this woman such as her unloving coldness toward her children and her husband, however he ignores them all in hopes of connecting with her, and becoming her friend. For becoming her friend would mean that he had someone that he could talk to about his job and his hopes and dreams and it would rejuvenate his spirit to how it was when he was young and had nothing but a dream. “In those moments Mr.
Kapasi used to believe that all was right with the world, that all struggles were rewarded, that all of life’s mistakes made sense in the end. ” (92) The conflict in Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumoa Lahiri, is not entirely clear at first. Mr. Kapasi seems to just have a strange interest with Mrs. Das however when you look more in depth to the situation you can clearly see that Mr. Kapasi’s strange interest and behavior is fueled by his underlying loneliness. The unfortunate part of this short story is that Mr. Kapasi’s loneliness is never compromised. The conflict that Mr.
Kapasi battles is not resolved and there is no indication that the conflict will ever be resolved. This leaves readers to ask the question if Mr. Kapasi will ever find true happiness, or if he will ever chase the dreams he left behind so long ago. That is the beauty of short stories; they leave the reader asking questions and making their own endings and post endings. Lahiri, Jhumpa. “Interpreter of Maladies. ” Perrine’s Story and Structure. By Laurence Perrine, Thomas R. Arp, and Greg Johnson. 10th ed. Boston: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2009. 83-101. Print.