Writing on Women Writers

A site for college students to write about women writers.

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Native American Identity – Pass it on through Writing

We have been reading a lot about identity in the past few weeks. Identity is what a person can relate to, what makes them who they are. In most of our readings we have dealt with personal identity and with cultural identity. Cultural identity is the identity of a person’s heritage and how they express that identity. Many of our authors have come from mixed heritages, sometimes having the heritage they grew up with stripped away and replaced with one that the government feels is more appropriate, as is the case with many Native American’s identities and other tribal people. Assimilation into American society nearly killed the identity of all Native Americans. It was taken away strikingly and violently and left a hole in Native American’s which may never be filled. Many of the writers we looked at shared the loss of their culture through writing so that it may never be forgotten. Gertrude Simmons Bonnin who goes by Zitkala-Sa shared a Native American tale which would have been passed down orally within the tribes. Beth Brant gave us insight into the loss of a child during assimilation when the children were taken from the Native’s home. Paula Gunn Allen expresses her anger and resentment in a poem titled Molly Brant, Iroquois Matron, Speaks.

The oral tradition was very important to Native American’s. They would pass down stories to their people as well as history orally. These stories would be told by a storyteller in the tribe and this person was very well respected amongst others in a tribe. Zitkala-Sa wanted to share the stories of her childhood so that she could spread understanding about her people. “Later essays….pieces frought with tension between her anger at the government’s maltreatment of Indians and her desire to promote cross-cultural understanding” (976). The story The Tree Bound is filled with cultural references, especially the native’s love for animals and the Earth. She shared these and other stories so that others might relate to her people. She wanted people to understand the Indians so that they might treat them better.

Beth Brant talked about a more serious issue in A Long Story. She pairs the loss of a child during assimilation with the loss of a child in a more modern sense. Both of the stories, told in pieces one after the other, reflect how certain classes of people are judged harshly by society and how those judgments turn into maltreatment. The native woman in this story loses her child to the government. The government, and a lot of society’s citizens at the time, thought that Native Americans would be better off being educated. During education they assimilated the Native’s children. This included teaching them to be ‘proper’ or ‘civilized’, in other words stealing them from their homes and beating their own culture into these poor children. The children were not allowed to see their parents for a long time. They were taught to speak English and to lose their own Native tongue and all the other culture that went with their birth.

Paula Gunn Allen expresses her grief and anger about the loss of her culture in Molly Brant, Iroquois Matron, Speaks. She uses graphic language to show her disgust saying “the carrion birds that flew upon the winds of Revolution to feed upon our scarred and frozed flesh” (1028). She talks about the destruction of the tribes across the United States when the land was stolen from the Native’s. The end of the poem is angry and vengeful, as the woman in the poem is angry and vengeful. She waits for the end of the Earth so she can laugh at the people who destroyed it. “Maybe when the last blast goes up you will hear me screaming with glee, wildly drunk at last on vindication, trilling ecstatically my longed for revenge” (1030). Many Native American’s are angry about the loss of their people, their culture, and the way that that loss came about. Their land was stolen, their people murdered, and their culture diminished to a fraction of what it once was.

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Hulme and Chopin’s works against motherhood


One Whale, Singing written by Keri Hulme and Kate Chopin’s The Awakening both depict situations involving mothers who do not want to be mothers.

In One Whale, Singing, Hulme writes,

“Don’t refer to it as a person! It is a canker in me, a parasite. It is nothing to me. I feel it squirm and kick, and sicken at the moment” (856).

Obviously referring to the fetus in her womb, the protagonist is very angry and uneasy about this soon-to-be child.


In The Awakening, Chopin writes,


“An indescribable oppression, which seemed to generate in some unfamiliar part of her consciousness, filled her whole being with a vague anguish. It was like a shadow, like a mist passing across her soul’s summer day” (700).


This “oppression” is referring to being the perfect “mother woman” and wife, which Edna feels chains her and her self being.


Unlike Edna in The Awakening, the protagonist in One Whale, Singing, eventually embraces her motherhood.

“‘I am now alone in the dark,’ she thinks, and the salt water laps round her mouth. ‘How strange, if this is to be the summation of my life.’

In her womb the child kicked. Buoyed by the sea, she feels the movement as something gentle and familiar, dear to her for the first time.

She begins to laugh.

The sea is warm and confiding, and it is a long long way to shore”  (860).

This gente and familiar feeling which she finally feels shows how much the child truly means to her. By identifying with the whale, she helps to realize how important and wonderful the gift in her womb was.


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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.



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. 


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.


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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The Awakening and the Whale

KeriHulme_1985_lr              Kate_Chopin



In the passage written about Keri Hulme before “One Whale, Singing” in our anthology, a comparison is made to Edna Pontellier from Kate Chopin’s “The Awakening”.  While both authors come from different time periods, cultures and backgrounds,  the main characters from both stories are very similar in many ways.


In Hulme’s “One Whale, Singing”, the two stories of a young pregnant wife and a young pregnant whale collide.  The point of view switches from the woman on the boat to the whale every couple of paragraphs.  We find out that the young woman is a poet and married to a scientist in what looks like a love-less marriage.  We also discover that the woman is dreading motherhood.  At one point she says when referring to her unborn child: “Don’t refer to it as a person!  It is a canker in me, a parasite.  It is nothing to me.  I feel it squirm and kick, and sicken at the movement.” (856).  She is constantly bashing her husband in her thoughts, and she seems to hate everything about her life.  Only at the end of the story after the mother whale accidentally hits the boat and destroys it and the woman is swimming for her life in the ocean her unborn child is “dear to her for the first time” (860).

There are many comparisons that can be made between the woman in “One Whale, Singing” and Edna Pontellier.  Both woman resent their lives and their husbands.  Both women are married to men who view their creativity as a weakness and it is not taken seriously.  On page 857 in “One Whale, Singing”, the woman says something about how nice it would be to communicate with the other species and her husband replies with, “That’s the trouble with you poets…Dream marvels are to be found from every half-baked piece of pseudoscience that drifts around.  That’s not seeing the world as it is.  We scientists rely on reliably ascertained facts for a true picture of the world.”  He doesn’t take her as seriously because she has a more creative and earthly mind.  Edna’s husband in “The Awakening” tells her that she should be spending more time taking care of her family rather than painting.  Both husbands oppress their wives’ creativity in both stories.

Another similarity both women share is that they are both loath to the idea and role of motherhood.  In “The Awakening”, Edna Pontellier struggles with the ideality of the “mother-woman” and taking care of her children, and in “One Whale, Singing”, the woman calls her unborn child a “parasite” and doesn’t refer to it as a person at all.  We can deduce that becoming a mother was not her decision and it is not something she is looking forward to.  In fact she doesn’t feel any connection to the child until the very end of the story when she is swimming for her life in the ocean.  Even then she doesn’t feel a strong desire to save her baby’s life.

The last comparison between the two women is their draw and connection to the ocean, as well as both of them meet their ends in the ocean.  Throughout “The Awakening”, Edna makes many references to the sea and her draw to it and at the end of the story, Edna swims far out into the ocean to escape her life and is unable to swim back to shore.  It is assumed that she dies in the ocean but it is uncertain whether or not she did it intentionally or not.  At the end of “One Whale, Singing”, the mother whale accidentally crashes into the boat, destroying it and sending the pregnant wife into the ocean.  She has a moment with the whale, and then as she’s floating in the water says, “How strange, if this is to be the summation of my life.” (860).  It then goes on to read, “The sea is warm and confiding, and it is a long long way to shore.” (860).  One can assume from that last sentence that the woman did not make it back to sure and she met her demise in the ocean, just like Edna Pontellier.

Keri Hulme and Kate Chopin were not contemporaries of each other, nor do their respective stories take place in the same time period, culture, or setting.  Yet their main characters share a lot of the same feelings and characterizations.  Both women have more creative minds that are denounced by their love-less marriages, a loath of the idea of motherhood, and have a connection to the ocean as well as meet their ends there.


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Beth Brant also known as Degonwadonti belongs to the Turtle Clan which is a Bay of Quinte Mohawk from the Theyindenaga reserve in Deseronto, Ontario. Brant grew up in Detroit,  Michigan were she married and had three daughters. After divorcing her husband, Brant decided to write.

brant01                          TurtleClan

In Brant’s writing she often refers to the white assimilation  that occurred in the 1890’s. In her story, A Long Story Brant discusses the removal of thousands of Native American children from their home,

“It has been two days since they came and took the children away. My body is greatly chilled. All our blankets have been used to bring me warmth. The women keep the fire blazing. The men sit. They talk among themselves. We are frightened by this sudden child-stealing……It is good for them, the agent said. It will make them civilized, the agent said. I do not know civilized” (834).

During the 1870’s the Protestant Church was thought to have lost control of the Native Americans. The Government therefore thought to put into a new act that would help them gain control of this type of culture that they were not familiar with. The Americans put together a Reform Policy that was used to help “civilize” Native Americans but suppressing their culture and communities. The Policy therefore often discouraged any act of participating in their previous culture, for fear that it would disrupt the cohesive process.

The Dawes Act followed, the Reform Policy between the years of 1887 and 1933.  A US philanthropist once stated , “safely guided from the night of barbarism into the fair dawn of Christian civilization”.  This quote helps to explain the idea that the Native Americans should have to speak English American, be of the Christian faith, and basically act and dress in American ways. Because of the Dawes Act, most of the land was split up into plots and were sold to US citizens.

220px-Indian_Land_for_Sale                 chiefjoe

By assimilation cultures, Americans were hoping to create a melting pot of different cultures together. But realistically Americans were more interested in the idea of having just people all become Americans and be a part of the American culture of being white and partake in Christianity.

chieft joeee

Going back to Brant’s idea, Brant uses the oppression of the Native Americans in her story, A Long Story. Brant discusses two different women from different time periods. As stated earlier, Brant uses a heterosexual Native American woman point of view when discussing the assimilation that is decided for her. The other woman Brant discusses is the a homosexual female who’s family is being oppressed because they are not the culture norm,

“He took her hand and pulled her to the car. The look in his eyes of triumph. It was a contest to him. I know he will teach he to hate us. He will!” (840).

For the reader, Brant provides a moving story that allows for connections between two different cultures that have faced oppression because they are not of what is accepted of them. Brant is an excellent writer to strives to get her message across but achieves so much more.

“When I use the enemy’s language to hold onto my strength as a Mohawk lesbian writer, I use it as my own instrument of power in this long, long battle against racism.” -Beth Brant (from her essay “From The Inside Looking At You” in Writing as Witness: Essay and Talk)


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The Importance of Race and Culture


The powerful voice of Beth Brant

Brant was born in her grandparents house in Michigan to an Irish-Scots mother and a Mohawk father. Tension soon began to rise due to the fact that her mother’s family disapproved initially of her marriage to an Indian, the Brants then went to live with the fathers family in Detroit. The racism experienced from her mothers side of the family seems to have been one of Brant’s first experiences with it. Brant is described as having a “powerful voice” and producing impressive bodies of work. “I am a Mohawk lesbian,” Beth Brant proudly states in Writing as Witness, “These two identities are parts of who I am.” Brant has written powerful fiction documenting a form of cultural genocide which is the destruction of traditions, values, language, and other elements which make one group of people distinct from other groups. Within her short work “A Long Story” we see Brant’s frustrations with culture and race as mothers are described as devastated when their children are taken away from them.

A Long Story first begins with, “It has been two days since they came and took the children away” (839). The theft refers to the removal of thousands of Native American children from their homes to place them in government- sponsored, white-run Indian boarding schools. “Not only were they robbed of their children, their lifeline, but their children were robbed of their culture–given non- Indian names, taught “civilized ways,” made strangers” (839). The mother lost sight of who her children were as they were learning “civilized ways.” She states, “I am afraid of Martha and Daniel. These strangers who know my name… There is no Martha. There is no Daniel” (841). The children were taken away from their homes and turned into “strangers” because of their race, because they were Native Americans. “Brant’s powerful story and revolutionary voice demonstrates the oppression and cruelty towards families by dominant culture through time” (Moorhead).

Listed below are a few stories written or edited by Brant. Addressing racism is one theme that appears often in her writing.

brant_beth_2589399a gathering of spirit beth brant

“Since I didn’t begin to write until I turned forty years of age, I look upon my writing as a marvelous gift that has changed my life. I write because I have a great commitment to the communities of which I am a member–Indian, gay and lesbian, working-class–and the larger community of Earth and Her many inhabitants. My work is charged with a political and nationalist consciousness, that of a Mohawk lesbian who believes in the power and beauty of language to heal and to open hearts and minds.”

Click on the link below to understand a little more about the civilization of Native Americans!


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The Story of Eve

Many women characters throughout the bible do not have a voice. Many of their voices are hidden by many of the male voices. One example of this would be in the story of Adam and Eve

To sum up the story God created a man out of clay and placed in him in this beautiful garden. He was not allowed to eat the apple from the tree in the center of the garden. When god saw that he was lonely he created Eve. Eve and Adam loved each other’s company and decided to take a walk into the center of the garden. Eve decides to eat the fruit God forbid them to eat because a snake (otherwise known as Satan) convinces her to do so.  Adam then joins in. God tells them that a Messiah will come and Restore their relationship with Him due to their sin.

Throughout the entire story we hear all about Adam and how he was so great.  Eve was referred to as Adam’s helper she never had a voice. Not until Paula Gun Allen decided to give her one.

In her poem Eve the Fox she talks of Eve and how she feels her thoughts of the events were.  She talks of how strong and sly she was. It talks of how Eve had two characteristics of snakes. It said

“She was serpent wise and snake foolish,”

This goes to show that she was strong yet had a little weakness as well.

This poem gives the impression that Eve was proud of what she was doing. That she was not biting in the apple but the lovely “flesh” of Adam.

“she sighed inside and wiggled deliciously

while he bit deep into the white fleshy”

Another idea that the poem brought out was that Adam and Eve were embracing the fact that they were naked. In the original story they cover themselves with leaves and run and hide. In the poem however they embrace it and continue to eat the apple and enjoy everything about the moment.

“of his sweat, the strong center of his

muscled arms, she worshipped the dark hair

that fell over his chest in waves.

And together riding the current of this

altogether new knowing they had found,

they bit and chewed, bit and chewed.”

Overall the poem helps shine a light on a different aspect. We can see how interpretations of various events can be made.

Below is a reading of Adam and Eve from the bible.


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Culture Shock

Oodgeroo of the tribe Noonuccal (formerly known as Kath Walker) is Australia’s best known poet for her indigenous people. Her publication of “We Are Going” in 1964 was her first collection described as “pure propaganda–to make people sit up and take notice” (1021). This author’s style includes a little bit of irony, humor, and challenging racism. Much like many of the indigenous women writers, nature and animals play a huge role in writing. Animals and culture tend to bring the Aboriginal culture together and make it what it is.

~We Are Going~

They came in to the little town

A semi-naked band subdued and silent

All that remained of their tribe.

They came here to the place of their old bora ground

Where now the many white men hurry about like ants.

Notice of the estate agent reads: ‘Rubbish May Be Tipped Here’.

Now it half covers the traces of the old bora ring.

‘We are as strangers here now, but the white tribe are the strangers.

We belong here, we are of the old ways.

We are the corroboree and the bora ground,

We are the old ceremonies, the laws of the elders.

We are the wonder tales of Dream Time, the tribal legends told.

We are the past, the hunts and the laughing games, the wandering camp fires.

We are the lightening bolt over Gaphembah Hill

Quick and terrible,

And the Thunderer after him, that loud fellow.

We are the quiet daybreak paling the dark lagoon.

We are the shadow-ghosts creeping back as the camp fires burn low.

We are nature and the past, all the old ways

Gone now and scattered.

The scrubs are gone, the hunting and the laughter.

The eagle is gone, the emu and the kangaroo are gone from this place.

The bora ring is gone.

The corroboree is gone.

And we are going.’ (Walker, 1022)

The last five lines are something that should be looked at. The fact that the author is implying that without the scrubs, hunting, eagle, emu, kangaroo, and the bora ring, the rest is all going as well. Without the nature and animals around than the people than too have to leave and are gone. Walker uses some good metaphors in this poem. For example, the white men are represented to be “like ants” because they were hurried to them and much like ants, the white men come in large groups and scattered eventually. The bora ring in this poem is essential. The ring represents the Black civilization. The ring is what the Aboriginal culture had come for and seeing that the ring is gone, there is no more purpose for the people as well.

Native Americans believe that all animals are sacred and should be an offering of spirituality. To express their gratitude, Native Americans thank their animals for giving them their food, clothing, and shelter. They also praise nature such as the clouds for bringing them rain.

The Aboriginal Culture lives throughout Australia. Currently, there are 300,000 Aboriginals which only makes up about 1.5% of the Australian population. The hallmark of Aboriginal culture is “to be one with nature.” In traditional belief systems, the Aboriginals view nature as a Christian would worship God.

The legacy of racism runs deep within Oodergeroo Noonuccal writing. In some places, thankfully, settlers treated Aboriginals like civilized people but unfortunately this was not always the case. Certain instances of genocides were sometimes practiced and ironically, this heightened the awareness of these people and their existing culture.

In the 1950’s Aboriginal children were sometimes taken from their families and brought into foster families who are non-aboriginals. This was thought to benefit both the children, their natural parents, and foster parents. This was known as the “Stolen Generation” which only became a widespread movement into the 1990’s. In contrast to President Clinton’s apology to black slavery, the Australian government has yet to make a formal apology over this Stolen Generation.

Oodgeroo Noonuccal (Kath Walker) centralizes her writing based on her indigenous people and their culture. With the use of what she has experienced and the natural world around her, she brings the reader of her poem “We Are Going” into her experiences.

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“A Temporary Matter” by Jhumpa Lahiri


Jhumpa Lahiri is an Indian American women writer whom authored both a novel and several highly acclaimed short story collections. Lahiri’s short story “A Temporary Matter” first appeared in The New Yorker and was later included in her collection of short stories Interpreter of Maladies which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1999. The stories are centered around the assimilation and the integration of Indian and Indian American in the United States while sustaining their Indian culture. According to Noele Brada-Williams of San Jose State University, “Lahiri’s Pulitzer Prize-winning work features diverse and unrelated characters, a variety of narrative styles, and no common locale. Indeed, the text even transcends national boundaries, being set in both India and the United States. However, a deeper look reveals the intricate use of pattern and motif to bind the stories together, including the recurring themes of the barriers to opportunities for human communication; community, including marital, extra marital, and parent-child relationships; and the dichotomy of care and neglect” (Noelle Brada-Williams). “A Temporary Matter” presents the failing marriage of the American Indian couple Shukumar and Shoma, six months after Shoma’s miscarriage. Lahiri utilizes quiet details and signifiers to illuminate the destruction of the couple’s marriage. Lahiri limits the story to Shukumar’s third-person point of view to convey Shoba’s character to the audience.

Lahiri provides the reader with quiet details throughout her story to gradually convey the couple’s failing marriage to the reader. When the story first begins, the reader senses uncomfortable tension between the couple through limited conversation with each other. When Shoba and Shukumar discuss the scheduled power outage, Shoba states, “But they should do this sort of thing during the day.” Shoba immediately responds with, “When I’m here, you mean,” (Jhumpa Lahiri). Through this brief dialogue, the reader recognizes the repressed tension between the characters. Instead of addressing the miscarriage, Shukumar conveys his emotions by focusing on the minor or insignificant details of their lives. For instance, when Shoba reminds Shukumar of his upcoming dentist appointment, “He ran his tongue over the tops of his teeth; he’d forgotten to brush them that morning. It wasn’t the first time. He hadn’t left the house at all that day, or the day before. The more Shoba stayed out, the more she began putting in extra hours at work and taking on additional projects, the more he wanted to stay in, not even leaving to get the mail, or to buy fruit or wine at the stores by the trolley stop” (Jhumpa Lahiri). Shukumar’s lethargic attention towards the minor details masks his deep distress over the loss of his child and the distance between him and Shoba.

As the story gains momentum, Lahiri quietly shows the reader how estranged Shoba and Shukumar’s relationship has become. Lahiri wrote, “But nothing was pushing Shukumar. Instead he thought of how he and Shoba had become experts at avoiding each other in their three-bedroom house, spending as much time on separate floors as possible. He thought of how he no longer looked forward to weekends, when she sat for hours on the sofa with her colored pencils and her files, so that he feared that putting on a record in his own house might be rude. He thought of how long it had been since she looked into his eyes and smiled, or whispered his name on those rare occasions they still reached for each other’s bodies before sleeping” (Jhumpa Lahiri). Lahiri depicts a deeply forlorn picture of the couple’s mannerisms towards each other. Through her word choice, Lahiri quietly illuminates Shoba and Shukumar’s marital issues are potentially unrepairable. According to the American Journal of Public Health, “Depressive symptoms are markedly increased in the early weeks following miscarriage. This effect is substantially modified by number of living children, length of gestation at loss, and attitude toward pregnancy” (R. Neugebauer). Although both Shoba and Shukumar felt deeply depressed after Shoba’s miscarriage, the emotional strain for Shoba was almost unbearable.

“At some point in the evening she visited him. When he heard her approach he would put away his novel and begin typing sentences. She would rest her hands on his shoulders and stare with him into the blue glow of the computer screen. “Don’t work too hard,” she would say after a minute or two, and head off to bed. It was the one time in the day she sought him out, and yet he’d come to dread it. He knew it was something she forced herself to do” (Jhumpa Lahiri). The power outage was a brief moment in which the couple reconciled and reflected upon their relationship together. The couple confide in each other, confessing their intimate intrigues and disappointments in each other, breaking the silence and bringing them closer to each other. When the power went out, the couple felt that they could discard their masks confide in one another. Shukumar believed that their evenings together had saved their marriage, however, the power outages were merely a temporary respite to the pain the estranged couple felt.

In Lahiri’s short story, Shoba illuminates more strength than her husband. While Shukumar was in his sixth year of graduate school working on his dissertation, Shoba worked as a copyeditor, providing for both her and her husband. Also, Shoba approached her husband with the idea to share her intimate thoughts with him, taking control of the evenings they spent together under the candlelight. Finally, when the power was turned back on, Shoba turned on the lights and announced, “I’ve been looking for an apartment and I’ve found one,”  concluding the game and their marriage. (Jhumpa Lahiri). Throughout Lahiri’s short story, Shoba illuminated strength over her husband. Although both Shukumar and Shoba realized that their relationship was unreconcilable, Shukumar was unable to approach his wife. Instead, Shukumar hid behind the insignificant details of their lives together. Ultimately, Shoba assumed the initiative to end their relationship and move on.

The temporary matter in Jhumpa Lahiri’s short story could not salvage the Shukmar and Shoba’s marriage. “A Temporary Matter” by Lahiri illuminates the struggle to overcome the loss of a child. Lahiri utilizes quiet details to enhance and drive her story.

In 2011, Lahiri visited the University at Buffalo as a guest speaker for the universities’ Distinguished Speakers Series. I have provided a clip below:


Works Cited:

Brada-Williams, Noelle. “Reading Jhumpa Lahiri’s “Interpreter of Maladies” as a Short Story Cycle.” MELUS 29.3/4 (2004): 451-64. Print.

Neugebauer, R., et al. “Determinants of Depressive Symptoms in the Early Weeks After Miscarriage.” American Journal of Public Health 82.10 (1992): 1332-9. Print.