Thursday, February 12, 2015

Class XI - Elective English - 6. The Third and Final Continent - Jhumpa Lahiri

Class XI - Elective English - 6. The Third and Final Continent - Jhumpa Lahiri


  1. Discuss the manner in which the author interweaves details of the narrator’s family with the flow of the main narrative.

    The details about the narrator's family is important for the readers in order to understand the psyche of the narrator. He had a very turbulent childhood and was brought up among very disturbed conditions at home. This is important for us to understand the bond he shared with Mrs. Croft. The words written by the author expresses that he was very attached to his mother and had fulfilled the role of an eldest son till the time she was cremated. He missed his mother a lot and recollected small incidents about she never forgetting to drape her head before coming in front of his father. When he came to know of Mrs. Croft's age which had crossed a century, he contemplated on how his mother couldn't adjust to his father's death and turned insane. Her insanity led to deterioration of her health. Her death gave him a heavy blow but he cared for her till the very last moment before cremating her. This shows his reason for growth of empathy towards Mrs. Croft because of her old age. Thus, his concern for Mrs. Croft grew which can be clearly reflected in the line: I was mortified. I had assumed Mrs. Croft was in her eighties...that this person was a widow who lived alone mortified me further still.

  2. ‘Mrs Croft’s was the first death I mourned in America, for, hers was the first life I had admired; she had left this world at last,ancient and alone, never to return’—how do these lines encapsulate the bond that is possible between two strangers?

    A person usually feels very detached from people staying around him  abroad. Here is where originates the feeling of diaspora. The same happened with the narrator. He was away from his home and his family and, thus, never grew any feeling of affection towards anybody in America. He was quite alienated with the people of America. However, the course of action justifies his attachment and the emotional bonding which grew between him and Mrs Croft. In the foreign land, he grew a fondness towards the old lady because of various reasons. When he got to know that she was older than a century, he felt a sense of responsibility towards her. He was amazed and was quite awestruck at the idea of a widow of that age residing all alone, with nobody to take care of her . Taking up chores like heating her soup every evening or giving her eight dollars in the envelope every month satisfied him. All these instances and many more cite the fact that a very strong bond had developed between the lady and the narrator.
  3. Examine the pieces of conversation in the story. How do they reflect the worldview of each of the speakers? The various conversations taking place in bits and pieces during the course of action of the story reflect a lot about people's perception on various issues and attitude towards each other and humanity in general. We see a very firm and hypocritical attitude prevalent in the tone of Mrs Croft when the narrator arrived at her place for the first time. This is when for the first time he realised that belonging to a very high standard place was important, anywhere such as Tech or Harvard. The greatness and biasness of Americans to be the first one to step on the moon, considering it an unattainable and impossibly splendid feat to be attained. However, she becomes mild for the first time when she receives the eight dollars from the narrator. Mrs Croft's orthodox ways become prominently visible when she objects to a lady and a man talking in private without a chaperone. Her conventional ways are quite evident keeping in mind the fact that she had already crossed hundred. The ways of the western world is shown to be in a very high contrast when we see Mrs Croft's daughter Helen being quite indifferent towards her mother's health or meals. Her casual tone when she says “she might have slipped” might disturb readers. However, even with the differences in opinions, perceptions and norms, the bond which had developed between the narrator and an American widow of a hundred years is worth appreciation.

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