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A Temporary Matter by Jhumpa Lahiri

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Chris Vogt

on 8 June 2016

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Transcript of A Temporary Matter by Jhumpa Lahiri

growing connection (intimacy) gives hope for their relationship, crushed by the light of reality
"A Temporary Matter" by Jhumpa Lahiri
Maddie's Lit Crit
- reversal of traditional Indian gender roles (modern story)
- Shoba- active and continues life after death of baby
-Shukumar- unproductive and becomes passive after death of baby
-Both of their mothers visit (Female independence)
Motifs as Symbols
= love (an act of helping fulfill the needs of others)
Shoba arrives home
electricity repairs
dinner without lights
Thomas' Lit Crit
Mr. and Mrs. Bradford: happily married, contrasting
Shoba: 33, proofreader, stillborn child changes tidy/ forward-thinking habits and relationship with husband
Shukumar: 35, given break from teaching because of stillbirth, idle, cooks
Chris's Lit Crit
Tragic loss leads to breakdown in communication of two lovers
Situation makes emotionally distant couple interact closely for companionship
Only houses on "quiet, tree-lined streets" experience power outage, not the shops
Married yet they have separate lives
The nights the power is out, almost as if they just started dating
Shukumar genuinely enjoys these nights with Shoba, while Shoba is playing her own little game

Jhumpa Lahiri Background:
Birth: London, 1967
Upbringing in Rhode Island
parents native to India
Boston University
"A Temporary Matter" Background:
published in
Interpreter of Maladies
--a short story collection
Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2000
use of color: environment, missed opportunities
conflicting clues: false hope into survival of relationship

"difficult situations and unpleasant emotions"-->


Shoba wants to leave-->
deceptive game
Process of Relationship
Loss of the child has led to a loss in the color of their life; the energy of the life
Mysteriousness brews in the air as they reveal secrets to each other in the dark
The truth is revealed through confrontations without distractions
Grief leads to avoidance of one another
- Darkness usually has a negative connotation, yet brings together Shoba and Shukumar positively
Day 1
Before the story starts
isolation (dinner)
Shoba's new personality
Day 2
Day 3
Game, hold hands
Game, kiss
Day 4
Game, sex
Day 5
electricity on, dinner, Shoba reveals apartment, Shukumar reveals gender of stillborn child, cries
"'By the end of August there was a cherry crib under the window, a white changing table with mint-green knobs, and a rocking chair with checkered cushions"'
= communication of feelings, connection deception, temporary
Shoba's prepared food eventually runs out
= reality, daily routine, isolation
Candles = positive memories (birthday) and false hope, intensify darkness
Vanessa's Lit Crit
The world that Jhumpa Lahiri creates is one in which women are in charge
"Women act; men react"
interaction between an active woman and a passive man
Shoba finds strength to restart her life after the loss of her child; Shukumar is a passive victim of these circumstances
Freedom from tradition leaves Shoba and Shukumar to work out their relationship on their own
neither a conflict between cultures nor a power struggle between genders

"Although Shukumar hurts Shoba in the end by revealing a devasting secret, he is like a wounded animal whose lashing out is impulsive and, ultimately, ineffectual."
Full transcript