Interpreter of Maladies, by Jhumpa Lahiri

3680 Words15 Pages
It was said by Hector St. John De Crevecoeur that, “ The American is a new man, who acts upon new principles; he must therefore entertain new ideas, and form new opinions [ . . . ] Here individuals of all nations are melted into a new race of men, whose labours and posterity will one day cause great changes in the world [ . . . ] An immigrant when he first arrives [ . . . ] no sooner breathes our air than he forms new schemes, and embarks in designs he never would have thought of in his own country.” His definition of what an American looks like is characterized by a “new race,” fueled by new ideas, combined all together to make a man. His idea become applicable as the first immigrants began to arrive in America. But, in a modern sense how does this principal develop in a country whose ideas and cultures are constantly changing? How does an individual define the concept of a homeland, and furthermore how is that person affected by a changing culture and ideas of assimilation? The 1999 Pulitzer Prize winning book, Interpreter of Maladies, written by Jhumpa Lahiri, begins to answer these questions. In the book, Lahiri investigates, explores, and considers the lives of people trapped in a “middle ground” between whom they were and whom they will become, as she puts her characters in situations where they are forced to react. Her topics range from love and relationships, to the explorations of tradition in a modern age, to the understanding of self. She plays with the ideas of different generations of immigrations and, like Crevecoeur, strives to answer and define the idea of what an American looks like, giving a general outline of whom fits into American society and why. Lahiri addresses the fact that a character without a defined h...

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