ABSTRACT

In analyzing the short story “Mrs. Sen's” from the collection Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri, researchers almost exclusively focus on the title character's perspective and describe the text as a narrative of a first-generation female from India not being able to assimilate in the United States This perspective is valuable in its own right and belongs in the tradition of diasporic or postcolonial storytelling. Lahiri's complex narrative, however, forms the backdrop of an even more intricate underlying, indeed subversive, narrative, of Eliot, an eleven-year-old American boy, who transforms through his exposure to Mrs. Sen. Eliot's witnessing of Mrs. Sen's processing of food and her (minority) cultural ways triggers that transformation. In switching the perspective from Mrs. Sen to Eliot as clandestine hero of the story, a second narrative emerges, which lends empowerment and agency to members of minority cultures. Through reading the narrative and its counter narrative simultaneously, a third space opens up in which change and approximation become possible, albeit for a very short period. The story does suggest, however, that the hardly noticeable change in Mrs. Sen and the more obvious one in Eliot will last, indicating an interpretation of the story as intervening into the current postcolonial discourse.

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