Essay Sample: Women Character/Gender Relationship in Interpreter of Maladies

Published: 2022-09-09
Essay Sample: Women Character/Gender Relationship in Interpreter of Maladies
Type of paper:  Argumentative essay
Categories:  Women Gender Literature
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1391 words
12 min read

The author of Mrs. Sen's, Jhumpa Lahiri, brings an aspect of woman character and gender relationships intertwined with other themes like independence, culture, change, identity, and isolation. A character, Mrs. Sen is an Indian woman who lives in America, and she experiences difficulty in adapting to considerably the normal lifestyle in America. The expectations of life in America include knowing how to drive, getting used to America's cuisine and dressing, and living in an isolated residential where people are few. Mrs. Sen, however, has a conservative nature and lacks the ability to cope with life in America. The only things that cheer her up are the letters she receives from India and their favorite traditional cuisine, fish. The two things drag Mrs. Sen into her earlier Indian life and she is stuck in the same memories. While the past is important, an individual should try and accept change, something that Mrs. Sen does not adapt to in the entire story.

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There is a specific way in which women from certain traditions dress. For instance, the Indian women dress in a particular manner with which they easily identify with. The narrator of the story says that Mrs. Sen still dresses traditionally in America as though she was still in her country. Moreover, she prepares foods only when she has a table that she can use. Basically, she is not ready to change. The women that Mrs. Sen represent lack jobs to preoccupy them and make them connect to the rest of the world and embrace change. Mrs. Sen does not get out of the apartment frequently, she is isolated and heavily reliant on her husband, Mr. Sen.

Lahiri also tries to portray the confusions and despairs a young wife can undergo and how she may feel away from home. Some wives cannot feel happy away from home, Mrs. Sen being a clear illustration. She says, '"Here, in this place where my husband has brought me, I cannot sleep in silence" (Lahiri 63). Mrs. Sen is in the initial steps of changing, but like most of the immigrants, she is obsessed with her Indian cultural background. The value she gives her home identity makes her too difficult to be assimilated. She tries to defend any threat to her identity by all means possible, which depicts her unconscious attempt to avoid the present and seek refuge in the past. Just like Mrs. Sen, women who are chained in their traditions continuously narrate and retell stories of life at home. The narration of such stories to Eliot makes her feel at home.

Lahiri also presents a contrasting norm of the theme of female identity by introducing a clear contrast of Mrs. Sen and Eliot's mother, another character whose lifestyle is depicted by Eliot's point of view. Eliot says that Mrs. Sen's house is warm whereas theirs is cold. Also, while he sees that Mrs. Sen craves for company unlike his mother, who lives in an apartment isolated from the neighborhood. Moreover, while Mrs. Sen loves preparing her own meals using elaborate food preparation procedure, his mum would just order pizza for supper. The narrations of the young boy also help the readers to see the confidence that her mother exudes in driving, which differs greatly with Mrs. Sen's timorousness when she is behind the steering (Lahiri 70).

The narrator of the story sometimes enables the readers to realize how Eliot perceives Mrs. Sen in contrast with her mother. Mrs. Sen is seen as a figure of the societal definition of womanhood. She is so close to Eliot, cooks, and shows a lot of care, the qualities that are not envisaged in the character of Eliot's mother. Nevertheless, the confidence in an American woman life is a representation of self- assertion. Mrs. Sen lacks individualized assertion, particularly in adapting to the American norm of knowing how to drive. This incompetence hinders many errands that a woman can easily fulfill. The author records that despite the love that Mrs. Sen has for fish, she cannot get it as much as she could due to the distance to the fishmongers' market, coupled by the fact that she cannot drive. Mrs. Sen is only able to visit the fish market just ones in a week.

Also, by presenting Eliot's mother and Mrs. Sen, Lahiri was able to give a parallelism of womanhood. There are two cultural models illustrated, and they are seen to work best as complementary systems. The lifestyles of Mrs. Sen and Eliot's mother, both suggest that it is significant to have a mutual fusion of cultures. The novel insinuates that various cultures should not live in isolation in a world with a lot of mingling and migrations. Therefore, harmonious womanhood requires the blending of the Western and Indian values, that is, self-reliance as well as caring, which contributes to a systematic synthetic vision of womanhood.

As a woman from India, Mrs. Sen lacks her own identity, does not have any individuality other than sharing her husband's name. Her real names are not mentioned in the entire novel, and the readers do not even know her name before Mr. Sen married her, meaning that those identifications are no longer hers. Basically, she has no powers as a woman, and she is seen in isolation from the lifestyle of the majority in America. Mrs. Sen is a good example of an alienated immigrant stuck in her traditional life and mindset in a far country.

The life of Eliot's mother, an American woman, contradicts that of Mrs. Sen as she knows how to drive, works, and has little time to prepare her meals. She, therefore, prefers takeaway foods to home-made ones. This is different from the life of Mrs. Sen, who is even afraid and easily gets distracted behind the wheel. She has no work and has a lot of time to cook and take care of Eliot. She is more concerned with the life at her Indian home and becomes relentless on receiving news and letters from home (Lahiri 66).

The story also depicts the regret and frustrations of a woman who is not self-reliant. As Mrs. Sen uses public means to go and purchase fish, the passengers complain a lot to her. The complaints made her decide and practice driving as she was initially persuaded. She realizes that she is responsible for her own actions and wants to try and change the type of her lifestyle. Her first trial to drive was futile as she knocked the telephone post and got minor injuries together with Eliot. She sees is difficult to adapt to American life, and thinks that the Indian life is much easier. Mrs. Sen has the chance to learn new life skills and live an independent life as the life in America presents, but this is not her desire. In the life in India, a woman is expected to love and be obedient to her husband, and she exactly abides by the same roles in her family, what makes her suffer the paws of life's reality in America.

Just like in Sexual/Textual Politics, by Moi, there is a clear understanding of the nature of a woman (Moi 3). The novel illustrates the feminists' theory by a comparison of an Indian and a Western ideology of womanhood. The story, Mrs. Sen's presents both sides of the role and plight of women in society. The life of Mrs. Sen is a presentation of a woman in a predisposition to be used as a man's object of oppression whereas the life of Eliot's mother represents a woman who is apt in her independent roles.

Just as in Moi's text, Mrs. Sen's presents the essential ideas of who a woman really can become. The novel tries to depict that a woman can serve both home duties and still embrace the realities of life, regardless of the places of situations. The contrast of the two characters shows that a woman can either be a victim of circumstances or an agent of change and deliverance from oppressions (Moi 5).

The writing, however, seems to feminist-oriented, has a lot to appreciate. It shows accountability, care, and service and independence. The text is interactional and helps the readers to view womanhood as an international aspect of inclusivity.

Works Cited

Lahiri, Jhumpa. Interpreter of maladies. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2000.

Moi, Toril. Sexual, textual politics. New York: Routledge, 1995.

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