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ENGR1bnumber3 - 1 Virginia Lieu English R1B The Long and...

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1 Virginia Lieu English R1B The Long and Short of It Tiffany Tsao March 19, 2009 The Significance of Children in Jhumpa Lahiri’s “Interpreter of Maladies” and “Sexy” In her short stories “Interpreter of Maladies” and “Sexy,” Jhumpa Lahiri uses children as a means of communicating the power and knowledge that her main female characters possess over their relationships. In “Sexy,” Rohin’s untainted perspective gives Miranda insight onto her true attraction to Dev and allows her to compare her affair to Rohin’s parents’ disintegrating marriage. However, in “Interpreter of Maladies,” the manner in which Mrs. Das responds to Bobby, in contrast to the way she reacts to her husband and other two children, demonstrates her relationship with her family and with her past. In “Sexy,” Lahiri tells the story of Miranda, a white American female, and her affair with a foreign Bengali man, Devajit Mitra. Their relationship carries on untroubled until Miranda encounters Rohin, Laxmi’s cousin’s precocious son, who causes her to see the faults within herself and within that of her relationship with Dev. Rohin’s frank demeanor and his audacity allow him to tell Miranda the honest truth.; he brings her to realize that she is not in love with Dev himself, but rather with the exotic culture that he represents. He pushes her to begin contemplating the true nature and motivations for her affair with Dev. When Rohin and Miranda meet for the first time, Rohin demands that Miranda draw him a portrait of her apartment and of him, stating that he wants to remember that day because “we
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2 are never going to see each other, ever again” (Lahiri 104). The blunt and truthful declaration startles and depresses her, causing her to realize the impermanence of her friendship with Rohin. It is shockingly similar to her relationship to Dev; if they were to separate, they would never see each other again. Subconsciously, Miranda has understood this for a while and wishes to retain the memories of Dev. “Miranda began to wish that there were a picture of her and Dev tacked to the inside of her cubicle” (Lahiri 89). She sees how easily the relationship could be ended and cut short by his wife’s knowledge of the affair. In spite of this, she still decides to continue seeing Dev even though she must be relegated to his short Sunday visits. Rohin is most important when he tells Miranda what he believes “sexy” means: “It means loving someone you don’t know” (Lahiri 107). This significant declaration pushes Miranda to realize the true source of her feelings for Dev; she does not love him for the man he is, but for the culture and foreignness he represents. Both she and Dev are not in love with the other, but with their own fantasies. By using the same phrase that Dev used at the Mapparium, “The boy appears to be a hybrid character of Dev and a regular child” (Tettenborn 12). Rohin has Dev’s
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