Unaccustomed Earth

False Love, Forever Culture: "Interpreter of Maladies," "Sexy," and "Hell Heaven" 12th Grade

Through stories of American-Bengali collision, Jhumpa Lahiri explores the nuances and complexities of cross-cultural relations and desires. In her three distinct works, “Interpreter of Maladies”, “Sexy”, and “Hell Heaven”, Lahiri examines how one’s roots can lead to resentment, as well as how people can be vehicles for cultural exploration. In each story, Lahiri tells each character’s unique stories of cultural frustration and transition through the lense of lust, both sexual and platonic. Through this narrative of desire, Lahiri explains how while lust is often the manifestation of cultural transitioning and dissatisfaction, it is also only temporary.

In three distinct stories dissecting American-Bengali cross-cultural relations, Lahiri uses lust to explore the intense longings of each character to belong to a culture different than his or her own, whether it be American or Bengali. In “Interpreter of Maladies”, Lahiri immediately establishes this theme when Mr. Kapasi first describes Mrs. Das, the mother of the American tourist family. In a description of intense fascination, Lahiri notes that Mr. Kapasi “observed her. She wore a red-and-white-checkered skirt that stopped above her knees, slip-on shoes with a square wooden...

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