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Interpreter of Maladies


Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri: Summary

"Interpreter of Maladies," a short story by Jhumpa Lahiri, explores themes of cultural identity and the complexities of communication. The protagonist, Mr. Kapasi, is a tour guide in India who also works as an interpreter for a doctor. He becomes infatuated with Mrs. Das, a visitor from America of Indian descent. The story unfolds as Mr. Kapasi guides the Das family on a tour.

Key Points

  • Cultural Displacement: The Das family, though of Indian origin, are disconnected from their heritage. This disconnection highlights issues of identity and belonging.

  • Communication and Secrets: Mr. Kapasi, who prides himself on his role as an interpreter, finds himself drawn to Mrs. Das. She confides a personal secret, hoping for his understanding and advice.

  • Symbolism of the Setting: The Sun Temple and the monkeys in the story symbolize traditional India, contrasting with the Americanized Das family.

  • Climax and Resolution: The story reaches its climax when Mrs. Das's secret creates an emotional rift. The ending sees Mr. Kapasi disillusioned, reflecting on his fleeting connection with Mrs. Das.


  1. Cultural Identity: The story examines the struggle of maintaining one's cultural identity in a foreign land.
  2. Loneliness and Connection: Both Mr. Kapasi and Mrs. Das are lonely in their lives, seeking a connection.
  3. Perception vs. Reality: Mr. Kapasi's romanticized perception of Mrs. Das conflicts with the reality of her character.

"Interpreter of Maladies" is a poignant narrative that delves into the intricacies of human relationships and cultural identity.