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Interpreter of Maladies Summary & Study Guide Description
Interpreter of Maladies Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:
This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri.
Shoba in "A Temporary Matter"
Shoba is a thirty-three year old Indian-born female married to Shukumar. She works in downtown Boston as a textbook editor. Six months earlier in September, she expected to deliver her first baby. Prior to and during her pregnancy Shoba behaves like a traditional Indian housewife. She maintains an organized, prepared and well-stocked home, kitchen and pantry. Through her pregnancy she keeps an active and engaged lifestyle with her husband. Despite her employment in the publishing business she resolves to avoid being caught up in its pressures. Her focus is on home, family and friends. She is always ready to welcome and entertain unexpected company.
Birth by caesarean section of her still-born baby marks a distinct change in her life and behavior. She is no longer an expectant mother and is traumatized by the baby's death. Shoba is physically recuperated from the operation. She seems to be emotionally healed as well. Shoba is actively involved in increasingly more business projects and a regular schedule of working out at the gym. She leaves home early in the morning before her husband awakes. Shoba returns around eight in the evening to eat dinner alone while she works or does other things. Her weekends are spent working at home in areas away from her husband. After the baby's death Shoba becomes fully caught up in her career. Shukumar in "A Temporary Matter"
Shukumar is the thirty-five year old husband of Shoba. He is six feet tall and has large hands. He is reluctant to attend an academic conference out of town when she is due in three weeks. Shoba reassures him she is okay and can call him if anything happens. He is embarrassed and uncomfortable that he is a student at thirty-five. Shukumar is happy about becoming a father. They decorate a room as a nursery for the baby. When the baby dies he becomes depressed and withdrawn. Shukumar holds their deceased baby boy before it is cremated. Shukumar stays home in January and strips the nursery of decorations for a study. Shoba does not enter his study since she is haunted by the room.
Shukumar is raised in New Hampshire, United States. The first time he visits India he nearly dies. He is left with his aunt and uncle in Concord when his parents return to India after that. He likes sailing and ice cream as a teenager more than returning to Calcutta. After Shukumar's father dies while he is in college, he becomes interested in India as a subject. Shukumar has no Indian childhood stories to tell as Shoba does. Shoba's Mother in "A Temporary Matter"
Shoba's mother visits Shoba and Shukumar after the baby dies. She is a polite Indian lady who is very courteous. She is resentful of Shukumar however, and only speaks to him when she comments that he was not at the hospital when Shoba went into labor.
Shukumar's Mother in "A Temporary Matter"
Shukumar's mother visits Shoba and Shukumar after her husband, Shukumar's father, dies. During her visit, Shoba tells Shukumar she has to work late when she actually meets Gillian for a drink.
Gillian in "A Temporary Matter"
Gillian is Shoba's friend from work with whom she secretly has a drink. Gillian drives Shoba to the hospital when she goes into labor. Shukumar is out of town at an academic conference.
The Baby in "A Temporary Matter"
The baby is delivered caesarean and born dead. Shoba does not want to know its sex and agrees with Shukumar the doctor would not tell them its sex. Shukumar holds the dead baby boy and keeps its sex a secret until Shoba tells him she is moving to an apartment.
Lilia in "When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine"
Lilia is a ten year-old Indian girl who lives with her parents in a city north of Boston. She is not exposed to a world beyond what her parents share with her or what she learns in school. Her father worries that she learns little about her nationality in the school she attends. Lilia tries to read about Pakistan, a country she hears about from television news, her father and their guest Mr. Pirzada. When her teacher sees Lilia reading a book in the library about Pakistan, she tells her if it's not about her report it doesn't matter.
Lilia is a curious young girl who is caught between learning about the world her parents want her to know about and her teacher who tells her it doesn't matter. She is reminded by her parents how much she avoids by growing up in America rather than India. Lilia tries to learn about her country in school but is told it doesn't matter. She lives an Indian lifestyle at home and is told only American culture matters at school. Lilia is trained to welcome Mr. Pirzada by taking his coat as an Indian girl should. She appreciates savors and saves the little candies he gives her when he arrives for dinner.
Lilia's father insists she watch the news with them, so she sees how children her age survive in India. She worries about Mr. Pirzada and his family. Lilia says a prayer while she eats one piece of candy to show her concern. She is not taught about prayer, so she believes it is more effective if she doesn't rinse the candy out of her mouth by brushing her teeth. When the conflict between India and Pakistan ends, Mr. Pirzada returns to his family. Lilia believes her prayers are answered and has no more need for the candy.
Mr. Pirzada in "When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine"
Mr. Pirzada is from Pakistan. He lives in Boston on a government grant to study New England foliage. He has a wife, seven daughters and a home in Dacca, Pakistan that he leaves to study in America. He is a regular dinner guest of Lilia's parents. Mr. Pirzada dresses in well-matched suits that he wears to dinner with Lilia and her family. He walks to their home, twenty minutes from the university where he lectures. He worries about his family, which he has not seen in six months. He carries a watch set to Pakistan time. When he sits down to eat he takes out the watch to remind himself of his family.
There is trouble between the governments of his country and India. Although Lilia and her parents are Indian they share many customs, habits and lifestyles with the Pakistani Mr. Pirzada. He is particularly worried about his wife and daughters because he has not heard from them during this time of civil unrest. Lilia's parents and Mr. Pirzada watch the evening news together. They hope to hear positive developments from their shared and neighboring homelands. Nightly news indicates a worsening situation. Pakistan refugees are leaving for India and he becomes more concerned about his family.
In October he notices pumpkins on his walk. He learns about the American custom of carving a pumpkin for Halloween. That activity gives him a break from the depressing news. He brings Lilia a box of mints for trick or treat. Mr. Pirzada shows concern to the American customs of his Indian friends, even in the midst of his own sadness. Pakistan and India declare war. Mr. Pirzada stays over some nights at Lilia's parent's house. He returns to Pakistan and his family in January. His wife and daughters spend the war time with relatives and are safe. He writes to Lilia's family to let them know.
Mr. Pirzada's Wife in "When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine"
Mr. Pirzada's wife stays in Dacca with her daughters until war begins to break out. She moves with them to her relative's house but is unable to keep in touch with her husband because of the war.
Mr. Pirzada's Daughters in "When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine"
Mr. Pirzada has seven daughters whose names he has difficulty remembering. His wife insists on naming them with names starting with the letter A. They stay with their mother in Pakistan. Mr. Pirzada misses them and worries because he does not hear from them.
Lilia's Father in "When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine"
Lilia's father is an Indian male who insists Lilia watch television during initial conflicts with Pakistan. He explains that Mr. Pirzada is Pakistani when she asks if she should set a glass for the Indian man. Lilia's father fears she does not learn about India in American schools. He asks if she is aware of what is going on and what they teach her at school.
Lilia's Mother in "When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine"
Lilia's mother shares their home and prepares meals for countrymen of the India-Pakistan area who live in or are visiting America. Lilia's mother and her husband find compatriots at the university by searching the roster for Indian and Pakistani names.
Dora in "When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine"
Dora is Lilia's childhood friend who tells her when the teacher comes into the library. Dora and Lilia trick or treat together on Halloween. Dora asks her about Mr. Pirzada. Her parents drive Lilia home after they walk their Halloween trick or treat route.
Mr. Das (Raj) in "Interpreter of Maladies"
Raj Das is an Indian man under thirty years old, born and raised in America. Raj and his wife have three children and live in Brunswick, New Jersey. He teaches middle school science. Raj and his wife are visiting their parents who retired in India. Raj takes his family on a tour. He dresses and acts like a typical American tourist wearing a T-shirt, shorts, sneakers and camera hanging around his neck. While on the tour he consults an Indian tour guidebook as his tour authority. He checks it for accuracy of any distance or travel time estimates the tour guide makes. Raj often asks to stop to take pictures on the tour. Mr. Das and Mrs. Das have an apparent distant and contentious relationship.
Mrs. Das (Mina) in "Interpreter of Maladies"
Mina Das is also born in America of Indian heritage but is twenty-eight. Mrs. Das argues with Mr. Das about whose turn it is to take their daughter to the toilet. Mina Das takes Tina but lets her return alone. Mina shops at the tea stall to buy something from a man who is not wearing a shirt. Mrs. Das wears a short skirt and tight-fitting blouse. While on the tour she does her nails. Mrs. Das is fully self-centered. She tells Tina to leave her alone, complains the car is not air-conditioned and criticizes Raj for saving fifty cents. When he asks to stop for a picture she acts bored or irritated.
She flirts with Mr. Kapasi by saying his medical job is romantic and lifts her sunglasses to catch his eye in the rearview mirror. Mina encourages him to tell her more and offers him gum. Mrs. Das flatters him by saying how responsible his job is. She invites him to sit with them at lunch and asks for his address. When they stop at the hills for a hike, she says her legs are tired and asks Mr. Kapasi to stay with her. Mina gets into the front seat with him. On the tour Mina shows hostility and boredom with her husband but expresses interest in Mr. Kapasi's job. The way she dresses, words she uses and interest she shows in Mr. Kapasi excite him, whether or not she intends to or even realizes it. Mina Das may just want his attention so she will feel comfortable telling her secret.
Mina keeps the secret of her affair with Raj's friend since Bobby's conception eight years earlier. She hopes Mr. Kapasi will relieve her of the bad feelings she has had since then. Mina takes eight years and all day with Mr. Kapasi's patient stories to trust he will be able to cure her malady. Her hopes of a remedy disappear when he suggests she just feels guilty. Mina wants to retaliate by insulting him but stomps away to her family instead.
Tina Das in "Interpreter of Maladies"
Tina is the young daughter of Raj and Mina Das. They argue over whose turn it is to help her. Raj refers to her mother as Mina when asking Tina where she is. Mina tells Tina to leave her alone and to play with her doll when they are touring in the car.
Ronny Das in "Interpreter of Maladies"
Ronny is the nine-year old son of Mina and Raj Das. He gets out of the car to watch the goat. He yells from inside the car when he sees the monkeys. Mina Das stays at home to take care of Ronny when he is a baby. She sees few friends during that time.
Bobby Das in "Interpreter of Maladies"
Bobby is the eight-year old son of Raj's friend and Mina. Raj tells him to watch Ronny but Bobby says he doesn't feel like it. Mina confides in Mr. Kapasi that Bobby's birth father is not Raj. The monkeys surround and attack Bobby. Mr. Kapasi saves him and carries Bobby back to Mina.
Mr. Kapasi in "Interpreter of Maladies"
Mr. Kapasi is a favorite Indian tour guide because he speaks English. He is forty-six years old and has receding silver hair. Mr. Kapasi enjoys being a tour guide and likes the Sun Temple tour destination. During the week he works as an interpreter for a doctor. He guides tours on Friday and Saturday. His work as a medical interpreter was not his first choice. Mr. Kapasi wants to be a diplomat or language scholar and considers his medical job a failure. He takes the job to barter his son's medical bills and keeps it after he dies. The job reminds Mrs. Kapasi of his death and she shows Mr. Kapasi no interest in it.
Mr. Kapasi knows his marriage is unhappy and believes the Das marriage is too. Mina Das' interest in and questions about his romantic job stir his interest. Mr. Kapasi feels flattered by her. His male Indian ego is stimulated by her feminine charms and American indelicacy. He suspects she is coming on to him. When Mina asks for his address he is sure she is. He watches her look at naked couples on the friezes and believes their tryst is soon to come. Mr. Kapasi is in lust with fantasies of a passionate affair with Mrs. Das. He accepts her trust in him as she tells her secret. Mr. Kapasi seems shocked by her secret infidelity. He is devastated when she tells him to call her Mina since he probably has children her age. His fantasies about her vanish when she refers to him as a father.
Mr. Kapasi's Wife in "Interpreter of Maladies"
Mr. and Mrs. Kapasi have fallen out of love with each other. She has no respect for the language skills he uses to interpret for the doctor. He thinks his job reminds Mrs. Kapasi of their dead son. Mr. Kapasi compares his relationship with her to the relationship the Das' seem to have with each other.
Boori Ma in "A Real Durwan"
Boori Ma is the sixty-four year old Indian woman who sweeps the stairs and does other duties at the four-story building. She sleeps under the letterbox on the first floor. She carries her supplies up to the roof and sweeps the stairs down from there. Boori Ma complains loudly all the time about her life now, compared to her previous life. This irritates her neighbors but they tolerate her noisiness. She does a valuable service by sweeping and watching over the building at low cost. Boori Ma does the work of a real Durwan for room under the letterbox and what the residents give her to eat.
She may be from a wealthy landowning caste as her stories suggest. Her troubles began with the Partition. Details seem to vary by the day and the listener, so the truth remains in question. She is an old woman made older by a hard life. She seems good-hearted and willing to help the neighbors. She watches over their building and does tasks unexpected of her age and assignment. Residents do not believe the stories of her past life, but her dedication to serving them well at next to no cost justify forgiving minor differences. She protects them from the outside world.
Boori Ma is not healthy. She is thin, has a weak knee and sleeps fitfully. She carries all her worldly possessions with her up the stairwell in the morning. Under one arm she holds bedding, broom and bucket. The other hand holds her swelling knee as she climbs. She screeches her sorrows in a shrill voice up the stairs. She is afflicted by mites but others think she has prickly heat. She hangs her bedding on the roof and beats the mites out of it. She is promised a new quilt so Boori Ma lets it hang as she sweeps the stairs. The rains start, but she remembers Mrs. Dalal's promise and leaves her bedding to soak.
When one of the tenants, Mr. Dalal, installs a basin on the first floor, Boori Ma's life deteriorates even more. Workmen come and go during the day so she cannot sweep the stairwell and keep track of strangers. She spends her days walking through the market and the skeleton keys she keeps as a reminder of her past life are stolen. What little money she has hidden in her sari is taken as well. She returns to the building to find the basin torn out and the neighbors angry with her. They do not believe anything she says so she cannot defend herself. They kick her out of the building with nothing.
Mr. Dalal in "A Real Durwan"
Mr. Dalal is one of the tenant-residents of the building. His wife is Mrs. Dalal who is Boori Ma's self-appointed protector. Mr. Dalal is promoted and buys a basin for their apartment and one to put on the first floor for the other tenants. His promotion lets him make up to his wife for promises he has not kept. He takes her on a ten day vacation. During their vacation Boori Ma has a lot of trouble with the other tenants.
Mrs. Dalal in "A Real Durwan"
Mrs. Dalal is the wife of Mr. Dalal and Boori Ma's protector. Mrs. Dalal promises Boori Ma a new quilt since her old bedding is destroyed in the rain. Mrs. Dalal complains to Mr. Dalal about all the things he promises to get her that he has not yet done.
Mr. Chatterjee in "A Real Durwan"
Mr. Chatterjee is a knowledgeable and well-respected tenant whose opinion is valued. His believes Boori Ma is the same as she has always been. The building is improved and now requires a real durwan. His last word about Boori Ma is accepted by the tenants as the decision to throw Boori Ma out so they can hire a real durwan.
The Building Residents in "A Real Durwan"
Tenants in the four-story building are the neighbors of Boori Ma. They are irritated by her noisy complaining but tolerate it because of the cheap cost of her services. She takes care of the building by sweeping the steps twice daily and watches out for any strangers who might take something. The residents are poor and have few possessions to protect. When they get the basin from Mr. Dalal and have to wait to use it they envy the Dalals who have their own. They begin to make other improvements. When the basin is stolen they decide they need a real durwan to protect their building. They kick out Boori Ma.
Laxmi in "Sexy"
Laxmi is a married Indian woman. She has a cousin whose husband falls in love with another woman after nine years of marriage. Laxmi works in the fund-raising department of a public radio station. She is a few years older than Miranda who is twenty-two. They work in cubicles next to each other. She has a picture of her husband and herself on their honeymoon in front of the Taj Mahal. Laxmi calls it the most romantic place on earth. Laxmi spends a lot of time on the phone trying to console her cousin. Laxmi feels badly about her cousin's boy. He's been kept home for days. Her cousin hasn't been able to get out of bed since her husband's call. Laxmi tells Miranda about her cousin's troubles. She invites her cousin to visit. Laxmi asks Miranda to baby-sit Rohin her cousin's son.
Miranda in "Sexy"
Miranda is a twenty-two year old American female. She was born in Michigan where she grows up and goes to college. She moves to Boston where she becomes a co-worker of Laxmi. They have adjoining cubicles in the fund-raising department of a public radio station. Miranda overhears some of the Indian words Laxmi says on the phone. The words remind her of her Indian boyfriend. She first meets Dev on her lunch break in Filene's cosmetics department. Miranda is instantly attracted to him. She appears striking with her pale skin and dark, glossy espresso bean colored hair.
They start an affair without delay. His wife is in India for only a few weeks. Miranda is totally charmed with Dev and the way he treats her. She has dated only high school and college boys. Dev treats her like a lady and she cannot resist him. They explore Boston together. At the Mapparium he says she's sexy. No one has said that to her before. She shops at Filene's to get the sexy clothes she thinks a mistress should have. When she and Dev next meet she wears her new silk robe. He says nothing but takes her to bed for sex. He says he likes to see her long naked legs. He naps for twelve minutes after sex then goes back home to his wife. Miranda experiences her life as a mistress.
The affair starts as an exciting romance with dining and roses. While she is in love Miranda is insensitive to the pain Laxmi tells her about her cousin. Miranda wants to tell Laxmi about her experiences with Dev because he's an Indian too. The pain of Laxmi's cousin affects Miranda when she meets her and Rohin. The innocent definition the seven year old gives of sexy strikes her heart. She is touched when Dev first says it to her. She has a new insight when Rohin says sexy means loving someone you don't know. She asks Dev what he said then. When he replaces the word sexy with let's go back to your place, Miranda realizes that Dev just wants her for sex.
Laxmi's Cousin's Husband in "Sexy"
Laxmi's cousin is married to an Indian man. He has an affair with an English woman he sits next to on a flight from Delhi to Montreal. Her husband disembarks the plane at Heathrow Airport in London. He calls Laxmi's cousin to tell her he needs some time to figure things out. He later divorces his wife and stays in London.
Dev in "Sexy"
Dev is the nickname of Miranda's Bengali lover who is married and has an Indian wife in the suburbs. Devajit Mitra is a rich, successful middle-aged investment banker who has an affair with Miranda while his wife vacations in India. When his wife returns he just wants to have sex regularly with Miranda at her apartment.
Rohin in "Sexy"
Rohin is the seven-year old son of Laxmi's cousin and her estranged husband. He stays with Miranda so Laxmi and her cousin can spend the day together. Rohin plays name the capital game. He tells Miranda she's sexy. He redefines its meaning for Miranda. Rohin's words help her recognize the pain he experiences and realize what her affair with Dev does to his family.
Laxmi's Cousin in "Sexy"
Laxmi's cousin is Rohin's mother. Her husband is having an affair with an English girl in London. She visits Laxmi on her way to California as a break from her divorce.
Mrs. Sen in "Sexy"
Mrs. Sen is a thirty year old Indian lady married to Mr. Sen. She lives in America with her husband and is having trouble adapting to American culture. Mrs. Sen is from a wealthy Indian family with servants and chauffeurs. Mr. Sen tries to teach her how to drive but she resists learning. Driving would give her greater freedom and flexibility to baby-sit and do errands. Mrs. Sen might adapt to the new culture more readily if she could drive. Her refusal to learn represents a resistance to the cultural adaptation she needs to live successfully in the United States. In a fit of exasperation she decides one day to drive out on the main road to the fish market. The cultural desire to have fresh fish overcomes her fear of driving. Fortunately the crash resulting from this cultural clash does not cause any injuries. Mrs. Sen further withdraws from adapting to the culture.
Mr. Sen in "Sexy"
Mr. Sen is an Indian man married to Mrs. Sen and teaches mathematics at the university. He takes care of all the business for the family but is aggravated when Mrs. Sen calls him to pick up fish for her. Mr. Sen tries to teach her to drive, but she does not want to and is afraid of other cars. Despite his encouragement she resists learning from him. When she drives without a license and has a collision Mr. Sen takes care of the resulting problems.
Eliot in "Sexy"
Eliot is an eleven year old boy who lives with his mother at a beach house. She hires many sitters for him that do not work out. The last attempt is Mrs. Sen. Eliot does not need a sitter, but his mother wants an adult available for an emergency. Mrs. Sen turns out to be less of an adult than Eliot's mother hoped for. Mrs. Sen causes emergencies rather than helps to alleviate any Eliot might have. Eliot "earns" his key but Mrs. Sen still does not earn her drivers license.
Eliot's Mother in "Sexy"
Eliot's mother is a divorced single mother who lives on the beach with her son. She works fifty miles away from their home. She cannot find Eliot a sitter more responsible than he is. His mother gives him his own key.
Twinkle in "This Blessed House"
Sanjeev's twenty-seven year old Indian wife is fully Americanized. Twinkle is a young and pretty California girl. She smokes, drinks, dances and likes wearing three-inch heels when she goes out. Twinkle says she sits at her desk all day studying so she can't wear heels there. Twinkle's friends and Indian parents live in California where she grew up. She is finishing her master's thesis at Stanford in Irish poetry. Twinkle is girlish and enthusiastic. Although she has few domestic skills Twinkle is willing to try and enjoys experimenting with cooking. Listening to Mahler symphonies make her sleepy.
Twinkle is a pretty Indian national who comes from a high caste. Her parents arrange her marriage to Sanjeev with his parents, their old friends in Calcutta. She is vulnerable and on a rebound from breaking up with an American boyfriend. She marries Sanjeev in India. They honeymoon in Jaipur where they buy silk paintings. While moving into their house she finds lots of Christian memorabilia that arouse her curiosity. She thinks the previous owners are "born-again" Christians and she and Sanjeev live in a blessed house.
Sanjeev in "This Blessed House"
Sanjeev is an organized thirty-three year old Indian engineer who is being considered for a vice presidency. He has twelve people working for him, as well as his own secretary. He is irritated by the Christian icons his new bride, Twinkle, finds in the house he bought without her. Her response aggravates him even more. Sanjeev likes Mahler symphonies and finds the tale of his Fifth Symphony an emotional experience. He feels inadequate from being short and anxious about crime when in the city. Many critical and hostile thoughts occur to him that he does not express. Sanjeev is preoccupied with what others think of him. He is pretentious and worries what his office staff, his friends and neighbors will think.
His mother is intent on arranging a marriage for him. She sends him many pictures of Indian ladies who may be a match for him. She believes he is lonely and makes more money than a successful bachelor needs. She arranges a meeting with Twinkle's parents who are old friends. They meet at a party when he is in California on business. He likes Twinkle and thinks they share similar likes and dislikes. His marriage is arranged and he buys a house for them to live in on his way to the wedding in India. Sanjeev now admits he does not understand Twinkle and is annoyed by her flamboyance.
Housewarming Party Guests in "This Blessed House"
Sanjeev invites his friends, associates and colleagues that he is trying to impress to their housewarming. The guests like Twinkle and enjoy her treasure hunt for undiscovered Christian memorabilia. They seem to fully appreciate her flamboyant and sparkly nature. None of his Hindu friends say anything negative about her to Sanjeev.
Bibi Haldar in "The Treatment of Bibi Haldar"
Bibi is a twenty-nine year old female who suffers from an undiagnosed ailment. She sees many charlatans who have not been able to cure her. Often new remedies they prescribe conflict with remedies she is trying. Illness and unpredictable behavior confine her to the building where she lives. She goes out only with someone who can help her. She works during the day counting inventory in her cousin's storage shed. She sleeps on a cot in the Haldar's apartment. Bibi receives room and board for her work. She complains loudly to the neighbors about her plight and that she will never be married. When she has an especially bad episode Haldar at last takes her to a real medical doctor. The physician prescribes her cure as being a man. A palmist provides a second opinion to support that cure.
Now that she has a confirmed medical cure, the neighbors encourage her to follow the prescribed treatment. They help Bibi plan and prepare for a man. Haldar and his wife resist her treatment. He has a good business deal with her cheap labor and does not want her to marry. Haldar will have to invest in finding her a man to arrange a marriage. He discourages her and argues with the neighbors about her cure. When the Haldars have a baby they tell Bibi she must move to the storage shed. Bibi falls into deep depression and withdraws completely into the shed. She becomes pregnant by an unknown man. When the neighbors find her pregnant they help her with her pregnancy and the baby boy. She turns the shed into a home for herself and the man in her life, a baby boy. She is cured.
Haldar in "The Treatment of Bibi Haldar"
Haldar is Bibi's cousin and owns a shop in the four-story building. Bibi works for him to keep track of inventory for room, board and provisions. Neighbors do not like how he treats Bibi. They refuse to buy from him. He abandons the store and Bibi to leave town.
Haldar's Wife in "The Treatment of Bibi Haldar"
Haldar's wife is a fat woman who does not like Bibi. When she gets pregnant and has a baby she insists that Haldar move her out of their apartment.
The Neighbors in "The Treatment of Bibi Haldar"
The building is occupied by residents and friendly neighbors. They help and encourage Bibi with her illness at first, and then with her cure and the baby. The residents stop buying merchandise from Haldar to run him out of business and the building. After the Haldars leave they purchase merchandise from Bibi and help her raise her baby.
Bibi's Baby Son in "The Treatment of Bibi Haldar"
The father of Bibi's baby boy is unknown, but the baby son gives Bibi a reason to live and is the cure she needs for her ailment.
Narrator in "The Third and Final Continent"
The narrator is not named. He is the quintessential Indian expatriate. The narrator represents the model of Indian custom, immigration and acculturation. When living in India as a young son growing up he takes care of his insane, widowed mother. His older brother foregoes an education to take a job and accept responsibility for the family. After his mother dies the narrator leaves to study in London. He returns to India for the wedding his older brother arranges. The narrator then flies to the United States where he begins his employment.
He takes a room at the YMCA for his first night in America. The next day he finds a room in Mrs. Croft's boarding house. He stays there to wait for his arranged wife's papers to be processed so she can join him. Mala joins him in the furnished apartment he finds after leaving Mrs. Crofts. Eventually they settle in a small town in northeast United States. The narrator and his family fully adapt as an Indian expatriate family in America.
Mala in "The Third and Final Continent"
Mala is the arranged bride of the narrator. According to custom she lives with his older brother and wife while waiting for her immigration papers to be processed. She joins the narrator in America and they form a family.
Mrs. Croft in "The Third and Final Continent"
Mrs. Croft is the landlady who rents a room to the narrator while he waits for his wife to join him. Mrs. Croft is older than his mother but well adjusted considering she is over one hundred years old. Mrs. Croft's years of piano teaching disable her from opening soup cans so her daughter opens them. She is an independent widow who lives alone and runs the boarding house.
Narrator's Older Brother in "The Third and Final Continent"
The narrator's older brother is an Indian man who arranges the narrator's marriage according to custom. The older brother takes over most of the family's responsibility when their father dies. The narrator takes care of their ailing mother so he can work.
Helen in "The Third and Final Continent"
Helen is the daughter of Mrs. Croft. She takes care of opening Mrs. Croft's soup cans and preparing her soup pans for the week. Helen helps her while reassuring her of her independence.
Narrator and Mala's Son in "The Third and Final Continent"
The narrator and Mala raise a college-aged son who attends Harvard and is a natural born American. The narrator encourages him to persevere when he feels discouraged.
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