A Guest Nonetheless: Jhumpa Lahiri's Mr. Pirzada

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Now the startling difference in Jhumpa Lahiri’s second short story, “When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine”, is that it is told in the 1st person, unlike many of the other stories in the compilation, by a young girl, Lilia, who’s family has more or less cared for a fellow human being, Mr. Pirzada, in his time of need. Mr. Pirzada has been separated from his family back in India, and has come to the United States for his studies, but while he is completing his work in the U.S. he is alone and carries the burden of his families safety upon his mind. The story is set to portray the civil war that had engulfed the Far East, between Muslims and Hindus, where although the people were of the same ethnicity, they murdered each other due to religious differences. The malady which Mr. Pirzada suffers from is one of fear, fear for his family back home; he attempts to confront this fear by sharing it with other Indian people—Lilia’s family—even though they weren’t Muslim like himself. The main maladies at the heart of the story though are war and discrimination, that people of the same region in the world would fight and kill each other over seemingly irrelevant issues. Therefore, Mr. Pirzada’s malady is only a byproduct of these larger and more significant issues, and through Lahiri’s prose we find one of her true purposes: to reveal the stupidity of discrimination within a nation such as India, where the people were all Indian but were caught up in a civil war due to religious differences. Lahiri manipulates Lilia’s character to target those who discriminate based on ethnicity, race, and religion. As the story is told from the perspective of a young child, we as readers can only assume that much of the specific evidence of what exactly happened with Mr. Pirzada was omitted from the pages of Interpreter of Maladies. Thus the tone and feeling we receive from the story, through

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