Thursday, March 29, 2007

Sympathy Pains

Since we're all in the habit of "posting blogs we forgot to earlier", I thought I'd "bring up" this one.
In “The School for Hawaiian Girls,” McMillen enables the reader to sympathize for the Hawaiian people by having her characters feel self-pity, and blaming their culture for their misfortunes. McMillen stresses the idea that Hawaiians refer to themselves as the underdogs in certain situations. “The hala tree was full. He showed Mama a spot next to a two-foot pillar marking the grave of some Japani who couldn’t get in his own cemetery, and was forced to rot with the Hawaiians on the Hillside.” (McMillen, 98)
This sense of sympathy was also an evident theme in Lahiri’s collection of stories. While reading “Interpreter of Maladies” in particular, I was filled with feelings of remorse, and compassion for Raj’s character. He was such a good father, and to keep such a secret from him seemed heartless, and cowardly. Sure, it was Mrs. Das that was to live with the guilt for eight years, but when that secret does surface (which it better!), it is Mr. Das that will be feeling the pain of betrayal, lies, and even incompetence.
It’s interesting to contrast these events to the American culture through the racial scope in which it is being presented. You would expect to see this happening on an episode of “The Days of Our Lives,” but throwing in the race card brings this to a different level. While adopting the American culture, as this family did, is it possible that polygamous acts were seen as a little more lenient in American culture than that of the Hindu religion (which I am assuming is a prevalent backdrop for these stories, however, I could very well be vastly wrong)? This story brought a new light to my eyes that assimilation isn’t always all about taking on better qualities; it also involves corruption. To think that these Indian families are stepping up from their third-world countries into bigger problems is like super sizing your value meal at McDonald’s.


Ashley said...

When I read Interpreter of Maladies, I was thinking the whole time I was watching a talk show. I was waiting for the mistress to step into the story and scream "He's my son!" Like we see on all of American talk shows. Throughout the story I was trying to distinguish where the Das family was American and where they where Indian. I believe Mrs. Das took Americanized culture to the fullest and the only concept she has to India is her skin color. Where on the other hand I believe Mr. Das is trying so hard to bring Indian cultures alive to "his" children

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