Generally speaking, the past isn't exactly a happy place for most of the characters in these stories. In fact, it's usually a portal to some pretty traumatic memories. What triggers these memories? For most of our characters, it's leaving their home country. The experience of immigration creates all sorts of difficult memories in Interpreter of Maladies.
Questions About Memory and the Past
Is immigration always a traumatic process?
Does a good story need characters with traumatic memories and pasts?
How does the final story's narrator handle his past differently than the main characters in the preceding stories?
Chew on This
To be a successful immigrant, you have to treat your homeland as something that's fully in the past.
To be a successful immigrant, you have to integrate memories of your homeland with your present life.