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Interpreter of Maladies

Jhumpa Lahiri

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Interpreter of Maladies | Quotes


Something happened when the house was dark. They were able to talk to each other again.

Narrator, A Temporary Matter

This hint of paradox suggests the increasing barriers that Shoba and Shukumar experience in communicating with each other. Since the loss of their child, alienation between the two has steadily increased.


I knew what it meant to miss someone who was so many miles and hours away.

Lilia, When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine

The quotation eloquently expresses the child Lilia's empathy and compassion for Mr. Pirzada, who has missed his wife and daughters for months. Her first-person narrative recounting his dinner visits reflects her own increasing powers of observation and understanding.


According to his schedule ... he would hear from Mrs. Das in approximately six weeks' time.

Narrator, Interpreter of Maladies

The quotation concisely sums up Mr. Kapasi's increasing infatuation with Mrs. Das. Just as he is trapped in a loveless marriage, he falls prey to the fantasy that she, too, may be unhappy with Mr. Das—and susceptible to his romantic attentions.


The slip of paper with Mr. Kapasi's address on it fluttered away in the wind. No one but Mr. Kapasi noticed.

Narrator, Interpreter of Maladies

This apparently trivial event signals the definitive end to Mr. Kapasi's romantic fantasies about Mrs. Das. There will be no further communication between the two characters.


Believe me, don't believe me, such comforts you cannot even dream them.

Boori Ma, A Real Durwan

Boori Ma habitually rants about her luxurious life in days of yore. She often uses the colloquial expression, "Believe me, don't believe me."


What a building like this needs is a real durwan.

Mr. Chatterjee, A Real Durwan

Mr. Chatterjee, regarded as a sage by his fellow residents, pompously voices an "eviction notice" for Boori Ma, thus ensuring her expulsion from the apartment building.


"You're sexy," he whispered back.

Dev, Sexy

This key line at the beginning of Miranda's affair with Dev comes back to haunt the lovers when Dev can't remember it some months later. His memory lapse solidifies Miranda's sense of disillusionment.


Her profile hovered protectively over her work, a confetti of cucumber, eggplant, and onion skins heaped around her.

Narrator, Mrs. Sen's

Lahiri's figurative language in this passage draws attention to the comforting role of food in the lives of many Indians attempting to assimilate into American society.


I hate it. I hate driving. I won't go on.

Mrs. Sen, Mrs. Sen's

Mrs. Sen defiantly refuses to continue her driving practice—thus conveying her tensions about the process of assimilation into American culture, which is so different from the Indian cultural milieu she knows.


Face it. This house is blessed.

Twinkle, This Blessed House

Twinkle's happy approach to the discovery of so many Christian artifacts in her house strongly contrasts with her husband, Sanjeev's, consternation.


As if by some unspoken pact, the whole party ... began combing through each of the rooms.

Narrator, This Blessed House

In this passage, Lahiri amplifies a sense of farce, as the housewarming party morphs into a treasure hunt for Christian artifacts.


Most of all he hated it because he knew that Twinkle loved it.

Narrator, This Blessed House

The quotation crystallizes Sanjeev's sense of irritation with his own wife, Twinkle, on the cultural issue of religion.


Her soliloquies mawkish, her sentiments maudlin, malaise dripped like a fever from her pores.

Narrator, The Treatment of Bibi Haldar

Lahiri's elegant, parallel style in this passage produces a tension with the content, which emphasizes Bibi Haldar's "malaise"—thus suggesting yet another case of "malady."


A flag on the moon, boy! I heard it on the radio! Isn't that splendid?

Mrs. Croft, The Third and Final Continent

Mrs. Croft repeats these words several times in the story, drawing attention to her eccentricity and advanced age.


As ordinary as it all appears, there are times when it is beyond my imagination.

Young Indian narrator, The Third and Final Continent

The narrator's concluding words in the story emphasize his own sense of wonder at the long and ultimately successful journey of cultural assimilation he has made—from India to England to the United States.

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