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Posted: February 14th, 2023

Tracing Themes Throughout the Text

Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies provides a story cycle in which short stories are linked together by recurrent themes. To add to the complexity, Lahiri uses themes differently. For example, the contrasting themes of love and loss present themselves in the relationship of Shoba and Shakumar in “A Temporary Matter” with their love for each other disintegrating after their son was stillborn. However in “Interpreter of Maladies,” Mr. Kapasi’s infatuation with Mrs. Das plays out as a fantasy of love (and subsequent loss) for and American tourist, and her family, that Mr. Kapasi drives between tourist destinations in India. Both examples of love and loss, the contrasting themes are used differently in different stories.

Initial Post

For this discussion post, compose a discussion post in which you discuss one, or on set, of the themes listed below in the two stories, “A Temporary Matter,” and “Interpreter of Maladies.” To do so, make sure that you present evidence (meaning quotes) from the text, to demonstrate your skills with close textual analysis. Here are the themes from which you may choose:

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  • Identity
  • barriers to communication
  • community
  • care / neglect
  • love / loss
  • race / racism
  • dehumanization

After drafting your comparison, please go on to discuss why Lahiri may have chosen to title the entire collection “Interpreter of Maladies,” after the third story in the text. Who is the interpreter of maladies? What significance does this title have for the story, “Interpreter of Maladies,” and for the entire text, Interpreter of Maladies. Consider using a two-paragraph structure for this post. One for the themes, the next for your discussion of the story and book title.



Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies explores recurrent themes such as love and loss throughout its linked short stories, with differing manifestations and impacts on the characters. For instance, in “A Temporary Matter,” Shoba and Shakumar’s relationship suffers a breakdown following the stillbirth of their child, while in “Interpreter of Maladies,” Mr. Kapasi’s infatuation with Mrs. Das results in a fantasy of love and loss for an American tourist and her family. The author utilizes these contrasting themes in distinct ways across the various narratives.

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