The interpreter after observing the relationship that
Mrs. Das and her husband have, he thinks he can relate his unhappy marriage
with theirs. He then tries to find common ground to start building a friendship
with her, or more so a connection. At the Sun Temple he even identifies with
her, once he detects the signs of “the bickering, the indifference, and the
protracted silences.” Mr. Kapasi tries to stick close to Mrs. Das in the temple
and that way he is able to observe her behavior. While walking through the
carved naked sculptures, he is shocked to see how open and interested Mrs. Das
is around the carved lovers. That is when it occurs Mr. Kapasi that “he had
never seen his own wife fully naked” (Lahiri, 22). This goes to show another
one of the fundamental differences between the two cultures.
That is the point in the story that Mr. Kapasi is
realizing that he has feelings for Mrs. Das. Especially after Mrs. Das asks for
his address with the excuse that they would send him family pictures, his hopes
go up. Mr. Kapasi received all that interest Mrs. Das showed to him as a sign
of attraction. He was so sure about it that he started to imagine what would be
like exchanging letters with her when she returned to the United States. He fantasized
how he would explain things to her about India, and she about America. However,
later we’ll discover that this connection was nothing but a creation based on misinterpretations.
As the story progresses we are able to find out more
about the Dases life in the past and how they met. By contrast to Mr. Kapasi’s
story, Mrs. Das fell in love with Mr. Das when they were still in the
university, and although their relationship was supported by their Indian parents,
it was not arranged. In India, even today, most marriages are arranged by the
parents, so the people don’t have the option to pick their own partner
(Facts-India). I can’t even imagine how hard that must be. What if you can’t stand
the person your parent chooses for you to spend the rest of your life with? Of
course there are exceptions and you might be lucky to find the perfect match. I
have a friend that came from India and her parents got married through arrangement.
Thankfully, even though they didn’t know each other, it turned out to be a
pretty successful marriage. But it makes me wonder, if fifty percent of regular
marriages end in divorce, how many of the arranged marriages turn out to be
unsuccessful? But then again, for people in India divorce is a raw deal,
especially for women (Facts-India).
In my opinion, one of the biggest obstacles when forming
romantic relationships faced by people is if they come from different cultures.
That usually entails differences in what they value and that can be a
fundamental impediment. The reason behind this is that in some cultures there
is given more emphasis on customs and traditions while in others they value greatly
individuality. It can be very hard for people of distinct cultures to get along,
let alone have romantic relations when the mentality is different. The author
gets this point across when Mrs. Das reveals her secret to Mr. Kapasi. She
appears comfortable enough to confide in him her secret affair she had and how
she conceived Bobby. He seems offended by the fact she was infidel to her
husband, nevertheless, he believed it was still his duty to assist Mrs. Das with
her problem (Lahiri, 27). Their relationship however, falls apart.
That is definitely one plot twist. Before the revelation
the reader believes that Mrs. Das might actually have feelings towards Mr.
Kapasi. And not only the reader but Mr. Kapasi himself thinks that. To add on
that, Mrs. Das misinterpreted what his job as an interpreter entails and is offended
after she doesn’t receive the comfort she expected. The different cultures
contribute to the fact that this misunderstanding takes place between them. The
greatest miscommunication issue of this story I believe is the fact that Mrs. Das has
managed to keep this a secret for so long and hasn’t told her husband yet that
Bobby is not his own child. As a result of the ineffective communication
between the family members – the mother hiding behind her glasses and the dad constantly
reading a guide book – the children also behave in the same way their parents
do. That is why they ignore Mr. Kapasi’s warnings of the monkeys. This
ultimately led to their child Bobby becoming ravaged by the monkeys. If
they had actually conversed with each other, they would realize the importance
of Mr. Kapasi’s words when he told them not to bring food around the monkeys.
Communication is the alpha and
omega in a relationship. A relationship is not viable if there is not a healthy
communication. The two marriages may both be unsuccessful, but the causes,
mistakes and results of their misery are completely contrasting. The cultural
chasm is way too vast for Mr. Kapasi to continue this relationship. That is
why, he had already given up on his fantasy of sending exchanging letters with
Mina even before he saw his address slip fly away. This scene is the conclusion
of the story and their relationship. It symbolizes the ending of all those
feelings that developed during the tour.
Lahiri’s use of characterization and setting unite and
create a story that gives the reader a greater understanding of cross cultural encounters
and the difficulties faced when communication is unclear. The author;s