Study Guide

Lost in Translation Isolation

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Identity crises aren’t just for middle-age anymore.

Haven’t you ever felt lost? Not like, "Where's that Arby's that's supposed to be on the corner?" lost, but "OMG, what am I doing?" lost. It happens to all of us at one point or another, and in Lost in Translation, our main characters are both totally unmoored and confused about what their lives are turning into.

The world around them seems enormous and strange, a sentiment that's only magnified by how foreign Tokyo feels. Both Bob and Charlotte are at a loss for what they're supposed to do next, and their shared sense of loneliness is what bonds them together across a pretty serious age gap. They’ve each retreated into themselves, and they recognize that in each other.

“Only connect!” wrote E.M. Forster, 75 years before “Reach out and touch someone” became AT&T’s tagline. Bob and Charlotte, two disconnected people, make a connection for the short time they’re together. Question is, will that carry over into their other relationships?

Questions About Isolation

  1. If Bob wasn't in a stale marriage, would he and Charlotte have connected in the same way? What if he was single, for example? What if he was happily married? How would their bond be different?
  2. How does the hotel setting contribute to the main characters' sense of loneliness?
  3. How much responsibility, if any, does John have for Charlotte's sense of isolation?
  4. Lydia's turn: Do she and her boxes full of carpet samples contribute to Bob's sense of loneliness?

Chew on This

Neither Bob nor Charlotte would feel so isolated if they could just figure out what they want out of life.

Charlotte should get out of their marriage before they have kids.

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