It's hard enough trying to figure out who you are as an individual, making it in the world. But when you're born as a set of twins, you might find that you're always defining yourself up against your identical sibling. If your sibling is quiet, you might be loud, and so on.
Now imagine that you're born with an identical twin—and that you're attached at the head. That's what happens to the narrator of Cutting for Stone, Marion Stone. He and his brother Shiva are defined by their birth circumstances, and that makes it difficult for them to separate and form their own identities.
Questions About Identity
How are the twins different? How are they alike?
Why do you think that Marion is the narrator and not Shiva?
Why does Hema give the boys their father's name and then forbid that anyone talk about him?
Chew on This
Shiva and Marion are parts of a whole, incomplete on their own.
Even though Shiva and Marion are born together, they are two separate people.