Writing on Women Writers

A site for college students to write about women writers.

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Jhumpa Lahiri was born July 11, 1967 in London. She is the daughter of Indian immigrants from the state of West Bengal.  He family moved to the United States when she was two.  Though Lahiri wasnt born here, she considers herself to be an American. She has been quoted stating, ” I wasn’t born here, but I might as well have been.” Lahiri’s mother wanted her children to grow up knowing their Bengal heritage, and her family often visited relatives in Calcutta.

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Lahiri has received multiple degrees from Boston University, and has taught creative writing at Boston University and the Rhode Island School of Design. Lahiri’s early short stories faced rejection from publishers for years. The stories address sensitive dilemmas in the lives of Indians or Indian immigrants, with themes such as marital difficulties, miscarriages, and the disconnection between first and second generation United States immigrants. 

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One short story that Jhumpa Lahiri wrote is called “A Temporary Matter”. This story is about a couple that is going through a hard time in their lives. They had a still born baby, and because of that the couples relationship is taking a toll. They seem to be drifting further and further away, until one day they receive a letter in the mail, letting them know that every day at 8 o’clock P.M. their electricity was going to go out. This is because there was a electrical line that  had gone down in the last snowstorm, and the repairmen were going to take advantage of the milder evenings to set it right. During these night the couple ate dinner in the dark together. The decided that every night they would confess something to one another. At first you believe that there relationship is getting stronger. However, at the end Shoba tells her husband Shukumar that she was moving out and that she wanted a divorce.

Temporary-Matter

In this story you can see how Jhumpa Lahiri is breaking away from her Indian heritage and embracing her American cultures. This can be seen in  the clothing her characters wear, and her role of women

One way in which Jhumpa Lahiri is embracing American cultures would be through what her characters wear in the story.  Lahiri describes the characters clothing multiple times through out the story. She states, “She wore a navy blue poplin raincoat over gray sweatpants and white sneakers”. When first reading this you would never know that the characters in this story are Indian Americans. The type of clothing that was described is the basic american outfit and not something that we would associate Indian culture with.  The fact that Lahiri is making her characters wear american clothing shows that she is breaking away form Indian cultures.

Indian culture       vs          1sweatpants

Another way in which Lahiri shows the breaking away of Indian heritage and the embracing of American culture  in this short story would be through the role of women. A critical essay on “A Temporary Matter” states ” The world that Jhumpa Lahiri creates in “A Temporary Matter” is one in which women are in charge. Women act; men react. This state of affairs is a reversal of tradition gender roles in India, the country from which both Shoba’s and Shukumar’s parents emigrated, and the United States. This role reversal gives the story a strongly modern feel”.  What this is saying is that in India men are seen as superior. However, in this story Lahiri made the woman the one in control.  Shoba is the one that has the job, the one that brings the idea to admit something every night  and the on that in the end is the one to end the relationship and move out. Since Lahiri creates this reversal role you can see hoe she takes in American Cultures and breaks away from Indian Cultures.

All in all, one can see how Jhumpa Larihi breaks away from her Indian heritage in the short story, “A Temporary Matter” and takes on more American cultures. This is seen through the style and clothing of the characters, and the reversal role of men and women in the story.

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqmBt6k-Saw

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