Study Guide

Interpreter of Maladies Family

By Jhumpa Lahiri

Family

"Family first": that's what motivates and breaks the characters in Interpreter of Maladies. Why? Because "family" is all about responsibilities and (failed) expectations—what a son should do for his mother; what a husband should do for his wife; what a parent should do for a child. In fact, when you think of "family" in this book, your code word is "should." No fun-filled family outings to Six Flags here.

Questions About Family

  1. How do the cultural backgrounds of the characters affect how they view their families?
  2. Who counts as "family"? Does "family" have to be based on blood?
  3. What does it mean to put family first anyway? Should the family always come before the individual?

Chew on This

Families can break apart because the expectations of family members are too high and demanding.

If you don't have a secure financial background, you can't expect to have a happy family.

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