Interpreter of Maladies

The Dual Womanist Perspective of Jhumpa Lahiri's Short Stories College

Jhumpa Lahiri is a Pulitzer Prize-winning short story author, one who has been lauded as one of the first authors to establish a literature for Indian/Bengali-Americans. These diasporic writings address many issues that involve adapting to new cultures, generational relationships and traditional gender roles for both men and women. Many have declared that Lahiri is a proponent of feminism, however, a closer reading of her the characters and plot within her short stories reveals that her writings display both pro-womanist and anti-womanist sentiments. Jhumpa Lahiri has written two books of short stories: Unaccustomed Earth and The Interpreter of Maladies. These short stories contribute to the womanist genre but also subvert this genre in other ways by placing the masculine over the feminine. This occurs in “A Temporary Matter” from “The Interpreter of Maladies” as well as “Unaccustomed Earth” and Nobody’s Business” from her other collection. An examination of characters and plot within these stories allows us to see the conflict that is created between the expected gender roles of male and females, generational differences in the perspective of this dichotomy, as well as the difficulties that surround cultural diasporization—all...

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