Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri Coursework activities booklet 2013 A Temporary Matter 1. Create a diagram of the orientation, complications (rising tension), climax and resolution of the story. 2. How do the characters overcome the narrative complications? 3. From whose perspective is the story told? Why are we denied the other point of view? Whose story is it, Shoba’s or Shukumar’s? 4. How does Lahiri give depth to the characters in the first 2 pages? 5. What evidence of tension does the reader get in the first 2 pages? 6. How have Shoba and Shukumar changed since the still birth? 7.
Why do they find it so hard to communicate? Why is it so much easier in the dark? 8. List the revelations that the 2 characters reveal. Why does Shukumar tell Shoba his last revelation? 9. Why does the story end with the Bradfords walking past? 10. Although this story is based on Indian characters, is it necessarily an ‘Indian’ story? 11. How does the title refer to more than just the blackout? 12. Lahiri often gives the reader clues as to what will happen before the characters themselves are aware. What clues are given in this story? 13. Many of Lahiri’s stories use the natural world to underline a theme.
How is the natural world used in this story? 14. How important is food in the story? What might it symbolise? 15. Writing task: take a section of this story and change the perspective – tell it from Shoba’s point of view. How would her perspective alter the story? 1 page Vocabulary: dissertation, superfluous, agrarian, methodically, cavernous, paprika, candelabra, bulbous, dysentery, diction When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine 1. Who is the narrator of the story? Whose story is it? 2. This is one of the stories that deal with the immigrant experience. How do the adults in the story try to fit into American society?
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Answer in detail, using examples from the text. 3. Analyse the use of food and the natural world as symbols in this story. 4. What does Lilia represent for Mr Pirzada? 5. Why does Lilia keep eating the candy when Mr Pirzada leaves? Why does she eventually throw the candy away? The Pumpkin Carving: 1. Why does Mr Pirzada decide to ignore the television so they can carve the pumpkin? What does this suggest about his relationship with Lilia? 2. Why is there a close description of what Mr Pirzada is wearing, down to his opal cufflinks? Think about it in the context of wanting to be like Americans.
Why then do his clothes ring false? 3. Why do the family and Mr Pirzada eagerly engage in the carving of the pumpkin? What does this suggest about their attitude towards their adoptive country? 4. What similarities are there between Mr Pirzada and the reporter on the television? What effect does this have on the reader? 5. Why does Mr Pirzada seem so competent and confident carving the pumpkin? What does this suggest about him? 6. What effect does the eventual shape and size of the Jack-o-Lantern have on the reader? Why is it important to the story that it does not look correct? 7.
Why is this an important passage in the story? 8. What is the significance of Lilia teaching the adults to carve the pumpkin? Vocabulary: ascertain, autonomy, botany, compatriot, sovereignty, camphor, fez, disproportionate, haphazard, placid Mrs. Sen’s 1. Who is the narrator? Whose story is it? What advantages are there in not using the first person in this story? 2. How well has Mrs Sen adjusted to life in the USA? Is she at peace in her new life? Explain, highlighting the struggles she has faced. 3. Why did Mrs Sen insist on driving to the fish store? 4. Secrets are a recurring theme in Lahiri’s stories.
What secrets are kept in this story and why? 5. What Indian traditions and customs are highlighted in this story and what is the significance of these to Mr Sen in comparison to his wife as they start their new lives in the USA? 6. Unlike other stories, Mrs Sen’s has many settings. Why do you think Lahiri has extended the settings for this story? 7. How is Elliot presented? How does life at Mrs Sen’s compare with life with his mother? Vocabulary: remnants, protuberant, flourishes, palanquins, audibly, periwinkle, quahogs, vermillion, portico, complementary Third and Final Continent . What is the relevance of the title? 2. What does ‘splendid mean and what attitude to life does it suggest? 3. Give your views of the narrator, Mala and Mrs Groft? 4. What impact does Mrs Croft have on the narrator? 5. Why are the moon landings included in the text? 6. Why is the narrator nameless? 7. What is the significance of the final passage of the story? Vocabulary: intolerable, occupancy, clamorous, perpendicular, stucco, desolate, proposition, oblivious, salutation, interlude Interpreter of Maladies 1. How is this story different to those we have read so far? 2.
Narrator, food, landscape – you know the drill by now! What do they reflect and how are they important? 3. ‘... it was hard to believe they were regularly responsible for anything other than themselves. ’ (pg 49) What type of parents are Mr and Mrs Das? Provide examples from the text and also comment on how Mr Kapasi sees their parenting skills. 4. What is the impact of Mr Das calling his wife ‘Mina’? 5. How is the gulf between the 2 cultures shown through the characters? What are the most obvious differences between the guide and his clients? 6. Discuss the impact of the description of the characters’ clothing. . Why has Mr Kapasi compromised his life? 8. Why does Mrs Das reveal her secret to Mr Kapasi? 9. How are Mr Kapasi and the monkeys similar in the last scene? What is symbolic about the address floating away? 10. Essay response (500 words/2 pages with quotes): ‘The stories we tell ourselves are more important than our realities. ’ Discuss Think about what this question is asking you, and then relate it to both Mr Kapasi and Mrs Das. * What stories do we tell ourselves? How do they often clash with reality? * Which story holds more sway over us? Does more important mean that it is necessarily better for us? Is it better to live with a vision of the world that is not accurate over truth and reality? Vocabulary: malady, translucent, emaciated, etymology, exorbitant, indifferent, magenta, eloquently, edifice, solemnly This Blessed House Character study: 1. Compare and contrast Twinkle and Sanjeev, using at least 3 examples for each and 3 quotations for each. (You may double bubble if you wish. ) 2. Are Twinkle and Sanjeev suited to each other? Will their marriage last? Justify your answer. 3. What have we learned about Indian marriages in the stories we have read so far? A Temporary Matter, Mrs Sen’s, Mr Pirzada, Third and Final, Blessed House. ) How successful are they? 4. How is Twinkle different to the Indian characters we have met so far? Explain in detail. Extract study (Inside Stories study guide – VATE – Andrew Doyle): Sanjeev feeling he has the house to himself during the party, p 155- 157 This extract from the end of ‘This Blessed House’ is at the tail end of the party. While it displays Sanjeev’s inability to have fun and his irascibility, it does show his growing understanding of love and acceptance. The extract ends with him carrying the bust of Jesus down for Twinkle. . What does the religious iconography represent in the story? 2. Why does he want to be undisturbed? What is his desire for a quiet night really about? 3. What does the reference about the liner notes indicate about his personality? 4. Is his desire to tear down the posters about them being blasphemous or is it about something deeper? 5. What is the stated reason for not pulling the ladder up? Where is the comedy or humour in this reason? 6. What seems to be the source of his anxiety and the knotting in his neck? 7. What stops Sanjeev from going into the bedroom?
What does this suggest about his feelings towards Twinkle? 8. What is the relevance of her finding the kitschiest of the objects at this point in the story? What sort of test is Sanjeev being put through by the writer? 9. List the reasons why he hates the silver bust. What do you think is the most important? Why? 10. What seems to be the consolation to having this thing he hates on the mantel? Is this consolation enough to keep him happy? 11. Why is Sanjeev careful with the feather hat? What does it show about him? 12. In what mood do you think Sanjeev leaves the story?
Essay practice: 1. Making connection between people is difficult. Discuss with reference to at least 3 of the stories we have studied so far. 500 words. A Real Durwan The Treatment of Bibi Haldar 1. These 2 stories do not reflect the same issues as the other stories in the collection. Do you agree? 2. Bibi and Boori Ma are not sympathetic characters. Discuss. 3. These 2 stories show how vital it is to belong to a community. Do you agree? 4. Both of these stories could be described as fables, as they have a strong message. Discuss. 5. To be different is a curse. Discuss. . Create 10 questions for each story, in the style of the ones you have been given in the past. Vocabulary (A Real Durwan): durwan, enumerated, deportation, litanies, almari, punctilious, parapet, diaphanous, sedulous, recriminations Vocabulary (Bibi Haldar): throes, poultice, auspicious, fruitless, pallid, replenish, non sequiturs, paroxysm, propitious, imprudent Sexy 1. Create a diagram of the orientation, complications (rising tension), climax and resolution of the story. 2. How do the characters overcome the narrative complications? 3. Food, landscape, narration. 4.
How does Lahiri give depth to the characters in the first 4 pages? 5. What is the purpose of telling the reader Miranda and Dev are having an affair in the early stages of the story? 6. How is Miranda presented to the reader? Give examples from the text. 7. How is Dev’s personality portrayed? Use evidence from the text to support your answer. 8. What is the purpose of the explicit description of the products at Filene’s make up counter? 9. Although this is a story based on Indian characters, is it necessarily an ‘Indian’ story? Would it be more of an ‘Indian’ story if Miranda was of the same cultural background as Dev? 0. Identify the major themes in the story and provide examples from the text. 11. Why does Miranda put on the dress for the young boy? 12. Why is Rohin’s character written in such an unappealing way? Revision: character 1. Complete the attached character boxes sheets. 2. List the following categories of characters and think about how Lahiri presents them: * Children * Single adults * Married couples (no children) * Married couples (with children) * Older adults 3. Make a list of the characters that are similar. How could you use them to prove a point in an essay? 4.
Re read Lahiri’s use of descriptive language to introduce each character. How does she convey so much information about the characters in a relatively short time? 5. Practice questions on character: a) All of the children in Lahiri’s stories are searching for an identity. Discuss. b) None of the characters in these stories are at peace. Do you agree? c) While the character’s lives remain largely unchanged, they do undergo a transformation. Do you agree? d) “They wept together for the things they now knew. ” Discuss how the characters in these stories are all on a journey of self discovery. ) Many of the characters in these short stories are negotiating the hurdles of forming a new relationship. Discuss. Revision: style Short story structure: The stories fall into 2 categories: * Classic structure – orientation, complications, resolution. In these stories the characters learn more about themselves by solving a problem or overcoming an obstacle. * Observational structure – a glimpse into a moment of the character’s life, rather than a problem to be solved. In these stories we are shown how people are, they are more about character than plot. 1. Divide the stories into classic and observational. Justify your choice. 2.
Do you think that this is a collection of separate and independent stories, or a story cycle, that is, stories that are united by a common character, location, pattern or set of concerns? Justify your answer. Narration: 1. Make a list of the stories’ narrators and next to that who the central character of the story actually is. Why do you think Lahiri chooses to do this? 2. What is the effect of using children as narrators? 3. What is the effect of using a narrator who is looking back at an event that has already occurred? Foreshadowing: 1. Often the reader of the short story is aware of a character’s faults or impending doom before they are.
Consider the following examples: * Miranda – we know that her relationship with Dev is unlikely to work well before she does, through the fact that as soon as his wife comes back, they no longer leave the house. He also fails to call as often as he once did. (pg 93/100) * Shukumar – we realise that Shoba is preparing to leave him by the way she is dressed on their last night. (pg 20) * Bibi Haldar – is told early in the story that she will be saved by a man, which the character’s assume is a husband, when ultimately it is her son. * Think about the other stories and see if you can find any examples of foreshadowing.
Descriptive language: Chapter: The Real Durwan Description| Technique| Effect| ‘... brittle with sorrows, as tart as curds, and shrill enough to grate meat from a coconut. ’ (70)| Metaphor| Emphasises the harsh nature of Boori Ma’s voice, gives the reader several points of comparison in the form of the senses, taste particularly. | ‘... Boori Ma could see some light spilling into the stairwell. ’ (71)| Metaphor| Gives the lights a quality that it doesn’t actually posses, that of movement. The reader has the impression of the light coming in a gush, quickly. | ‘Boori Ma’s mouth is full of ashes... (72)| Metaphor| Implies that Boori Ma’s words are not true, that her history (refugee of Partition) is up in flames, now ashes. | ‘... our mosquito nets were as soft as silk. ’ (74)| Simile| Compares the nets to silk to show the reader how luxurious Boori Ma’s former life was. | ‘... what burned like peppers across her thinning scalp and skin... ’ (75)| Simile| Compares the sensation on her back with that of the heat of peppers. This gives the reader a sense (taste, touch) so as to empathise with the character. | ‘It (the rain) came slapping across the roof like a boy in slippers too big for him... (75)| Personification/Simile| The rain is give a quality of a human initially (slapping) to emphasise how heavy and sudden the rain is. Then it is compared to the sound of slippers to help the reader imagine the sound more accurately. | ‘... she knew her quilts were turning into yoghurt. ’ (76)| Metaphor| The rain is making her quilts soggy, the same consistency as yoghurt. | * Create your own table for another 3 of the stories in the collection. Symbolism and iconography Lahiri uses symbols and iconography to enhance the meaning of her stories. Think about the following symbols and what they represent:
Symbol| Stories| Examples| Food| | | Natural landscape| | | Clothing| | | Housing| | | She also uses a particular icon attached to a character to reinforce her point. How do these icons reflect the character’s personalities? Story/Character| Icon| Meaning| This Blessed House/Sanjeev| Liner notes| | A Temporary Matter/Shoba| Coloured pens| | Mrs Sen’s/Mrs Sen| The knife| | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | Practice SAC questions for style/structure: 1. Jhumpa Lahiri uses metaphors and symbols to enhance the point of the stories. Discuss with reference to at least 3 stories in Interpreter of Maladies. . The stories are quite clearly related through a common theme. Do you agree? 3. What are the advantages of Lahiri using children as narrators? 4. Lahiri often sets up contrasts between characters and situations to show the universal nature of humans. Discuss. 5. How does the imagery from the natural world influence these stories? Revision: themes 1. Theme pages. Make a page in your book for each of the following themes: * Loneliness * Belonging * The migrant experience * Marriage * Identity * Human contact/connections Now brainstorm everything you can think of about that theme.
Create a table: Theme| Evidence in the stories| Relevant quotes| | | | Character: Mr Pirzada Physical description| | History| | Personality traits| | Audience impact| | Quotations| | Character: Bibi Haldar Physical description| | History| | Personality traits| | Audience impact| | Quotations| | Character: Boori Ma Physical description| | History| | Personality traits| | Audience impact| | Quotations| | Characters: Shukumar and Shoba Physical description| | | History| | | Personality traits| | | Audience impact| | | Quotations| | | Character: Mrs Das and Mr Kapasi Physical description| | |
History| | | Personality traits| | | Audience impact| | | Quotations| | | Character: Mrs Sen Physical description| | History| | Personality traits| | Audience impact| | Quotations| | Characters: Twinkle and Sanjeev Physical description| | | History| | | Personality traits| | | Audience impact| | | Quotations| | | Characters: Miranda and Dev Physical description| | | History| | | Personality traits| | | Audience impact| | | Quotations| | | Characters: Narrator and Mrs Croft Physical description| | | History| | | Personality traits| | | Audience impact| | | Quotations| | |
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