For those of you who have not completed Interpreter of Maladies, do not read any further. Though all the stories in the book were quite fascinating and interesting to read, I couldn’t help but enjoy the very last one, “The Third and Final Continent,” the most.
It is a story about a man coming to the
He takes refuge with an older woman, Mrs. Croft, who he would later find out is one hundred and three. She is fascinated by the fact that the
Mrs. Croft is also very proper. She won’t let him have lady visitors, even though he is married. When he has a conversation with her daughter Helen, she criticizes them both for talking with out a chaperone, seeing as they are both single. She fails to realize he is married and Helen is old enough to be his mother.
When her daughter asks her what she would do if she saw a woman with a mini-skirt, Mrs. Croft replies that she would have her arrested.
I spent a great deal of time trying to figure out the significance of Mrs. Croft and her properness to the story. I have come to the conclusion that Mrs. Croft was a way for the main character to practice living with his future wife.
. The main character had been distant from his culture for many years. He had lived in
His wife, Mala, however, lived her entire life in Indian. She was raised to be proper and regard her husband with respect. When she first gets off the plane, she refuses to take off her sari at the airport. She is dressed very formally and appears to follow her country’s customs. She is the product of an old world.
He has trouble getting used to her at first. He states that after the first week living with her, he had not become accustomed to her. It appears that he has trouble adjusting to her old customs. It isn’t until they take a visit to Mrs. Croft that she starts to grow on him. I believe this is because he finally realizes how similar they are.
Mrs. Croft was also a product of an older world. Granted, it was in the
I think the main character realizes the similarity by the end of the visit. He worries what Mrs. Croft will think of his wife. He wonders what she will think of Mala’s strange customs. However, un-expectantly, she calls her a perfect lady. He suddenly laughs and for the first time and his wife and he smile at each other.
The protagonist says that from that moment the distance between his wife and himself became closer. If they grew closer together, he had to have seen something in his wife that he hadn’t seen before. When Mrs. Croft gave approval to Mala, it was an indication that she and Mala were not so different because Mrs. Croft was strict on who she decided to like. This could have given the protagonist the idea that his wife was similar to the woman he had been living with for so many months, and thus the distance for himself probably wore off.