Demystifying Interpersonal Barriers in “Interpreter of Maladies”

Originally submitted 6 February 2016

The beginning of Jhumpa Lahiri’s “Interpreter of Maladies” is familiar. Older, spiritually grounded Indian native Mr. Kapasi meets the first-generation American immigrant Das family. Indifferent to her husband and children, Mrs. Das is unhappy and unmaternal, seemingly personifying American materialism with her plump figure and bulging bag of possessions (448). If one is to predict the story’s conclusion from its introduction, the resolution seems obvious: Mr. Kapasi will deposit a pearl of mystical Eastern wisdom that will show Mrs. Das the path to enlightenment, to motherhood, and to happiness. Lahiri raises expectations for a cross-cultural interaction story through Mr. Kapasi’s first appraisal of the Das family. Their cultural differences are evident from their introduction. Continue reading “Demystifying Interpersonal Barriers in “Interpreter of Maladies””

Jinnah’s Choice: Partition and Muslim Nationhood

Image by Grady Pearson

Essay completed 14 December 2015

On August 11, 1947, Mohammad Ali Jinnah addressed the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan as the nation’s first President. The man who had become the face of the Indian Muslim community was appointed the new nation’s leader. Yet, the Pakistan he came to lead was very different from the state for which he had campaigned in his years as leader of the Muslim League. In his address, Jinnah said of the Partition of India, “A division had to take place… it will be proved… that was the only solution to India’s constitutional problem” (Jinnah). Jinnah had not always thought this way. The Partition of India as it occurred was not what he had worked to bring forth in the years leading up to 1947. The Partition of India was the only tenable choice Jinnah had after Britain’s departure, but it was far from his goal. The constantly changing claim of what Muslim nationhood meant, the structural peculiarities of the British Indian system of government, and the last-minute choice Jinnah faced led him to consent to the formation of a Muslim nation very different from the state he intended to create. Continue reading “Jinnah’s Choice: Partition and Muslim Nationhood”

Unity and Division under Gandhi

Image by Grady Pearson

Essay completed 30 October 2015

On a cold September day in 1931, Mohandas Gandhi arrived in London and was greeted by a crowd of people eager to see the man who was quickly becoming the face of the Indian nationalist movement. Gandhi had come to attend the second Round Table Conference to discuss constitutional reforms with other Indian delegates. At the conference however, Gandhi was unwilling to support his fellow nationalist leaders’ proposition for the establishment of separate electorates for Sikhs, Muslims, and other minority groups. (Gandhi: The Road to Freedom). The London Round Table Conference exemplified Gandhi’s reluctance to treat any group within the Indian population differently from the rest. Continue reading “Unity and Division under Gandhi”