Study Guide

Interpreter of Maladies Contrasting Regions and Cultural Identity

By Jhumpa Lahiri

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Contrasting Regions and Cultural Identity

In Interpreter of Maladies, there aren't just two regions to think about. There are (at least) three to compare to each other: America, India and Pakistan. Why is the theme so complex? Because in this book, most of the key characters have made at least one or two major moves, usually across nations, due to war, politics, and economic need. One thread that runs through many of these stories is the forging of an identity when a person has left their native culture to live in another. All immigrant cultures in the U.S. have experienced the challenges of becoming American while maintaining ties to their heritage by their language, dress, cuisine, or religious customs.

Questions About Contrasting Regions and Cultural Identity

  1. How and why are Bengalis different from Indians?
  2. How does a region's geography determine the region's culture?
  3. Why is the final story called "The Third and Final Continent"? Why the emphasis on "final"?

Chew on This

Being from several different places means you're more socially and culturally adaptable.

Traumatic moves across countries can actually make you less socially and culturally adaptable

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