Interpreter of Maladies: Rituals and routines

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Interpreter of Maladies: Rituals and routines

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1lorannen
mar 15, 2017, 12:01pm

Lahiri's stories in Interpreter of Maladies are full of ritual and routines both large and small, from formal ceremonies to Boori Ma's ritualistic sweeping of the stairs. What role do they play in the lives of the characters that act them out, or that observe them? What are the rewards or drawbacks of maintaining long-established rituals and routines?

2jennybhatt
mar 16, 2017, 1:28am

For me, her use of rituals and routines do three things:

1/ They signify, often, the social class of the character. In some cases, also the caste of the Indian character.

2/ They also give many of the stories their plot points and/or conflicts -- where a character is forced to or required to deviate from a ritual/routine, and what that means to him/her.

3/ Where the characters have been transplants/immigrants to the US, the rituals/routines are also a way for them to hang onto their past lives -- the little bits of themselves they refuse to fully assimilate into the new culture until they have to.