Study Guide

Interpreter of Maladies Language and Communication

By Jhumpa Lahiri

Language and Communication

Interpreter of Maladies is all about gaps in communication, even between people who speak the same language. But that doesn't mean characters don't communicate in Lahiri's stories; they just often struggle to do it. That's because these characters are all balancing huge cultural differences from their Bengali/Indian and American backgrounds. For them, there's no such thing as "regular" speech.

Questions About Language and Communication

  1. How do props help some of the characters in these stories communicate?
  2. How is silence used to communicate important information in the book?
  3. Why do some of the native English speaking characters have such a tough time communicating with each other?

Chew on This

The biggest communication gap isn't between white Americans and Bengali or Indian immigrants in this book: it's between the second-generation Bengali/Indian-American married couples.

Too much talking leads to greater misunderstandings between people.

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