Main Themes In Interpreter Of Maladies And Woman Hollering Creek

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In literature, authors often use everyday scenarios to communicate ideas to the reader. Whether it is meant to teach the reader a lesson or help them understand difficult topics, every story has a purpose: the theme. Many authors, like Sandra Cisneros and Jhumpa Lahiri, share similar themes in their works. Two of their books in particular, Interpreter of Maladies and Woman Hollering Creek and Other Short Stories, all shared the themes of lies, deception, hopes, dreams, plans, and identity. In the short stories, “Sexy” and “Woman Hollering Creek,” the authors weave tales centered on lies and deception. Two different facets of identity are explored in “When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine” and “Mericans”. Lastly, “Mrs. Sen’s” and “Little Miracles, Kept Promises” demonstrate how the theme hopes, dreams, and plans function in everyday life. This paper will explain how countless stories share the themes of lies and deception, hopes, dreams, plans, and identity, as well as how Lahiri and Cisneros convey those messages.

One of the most prevalent themes in the writings of Cisneros and Lahiri is Lies and Deceptions. In the short story “Sexy,” Miranda is having an affair with Dev, whose wife is on a trip to India. While away on her trip, Dev and Miranda start to spend every night at her apartment. Miranda stated that “somehow, without the wife there, it didn’t seem so wrong” (Lahiri 88). Miranda has been caught up all in Dev’s lies so much that she even started to deceive herself. Since she has never met Dev’s wife, Miranda starts to believe that her horrible actions are not as serious as she originally thought. As symbolically shown by the Mapparium, Dev and Miranda are in their own world and nothing can ruin the rush they have. Not only can one lie for love, but one can also lie to escape love. Cisneros, in the short story “Woman Hollering Creek,” took a different route for the theme of lies and deceptions. Cleofilas thinks she has met her true love, Juan Pedro. As time goes by, this love starts to fade. Once Juan started abusing her, she knew it was time to leave. Cleofilas packed her bags and “all morning that flutter of half fear, half doubt” struck her and she knew “at any moment Juan Pedro might appear in the doorway”(Cisneros 55). Cleofilas is worried that her husband will catch her trying to leave. Cloeflias knew that she would be unable to confront Juan about leaving him, as she knew it would lead to more abuse. Cleofilas had to resort to lying and deceiving Juan to assist in her escape, as she knew that was the only way out of her horrible life.

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Not only do the stories included lies and deception, but they also force characters to question their identity. In the short story, “When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine,” Mr. Pirzada is from Dacca, Pakistan and is in the states for foliage. The United States is something like he has never seen before and is forcing him to acclimate to a variety of customs. One thing he had to adapt to is all the new holidays, Halloween to be specific. Mr. Pirzada has never seen a pumpkin before and asked “‘What are those large orange vegetables on people’s doorsteps?’ ‘A type of squash?’” (Lahiri 34). Mr. Pirzada is learning about different American traditions and this allows him to gain a whole new perspective on the world. He is able to shape his identity while on this journey through new cultural experiences. Traveling helps take people out of their comfort zone and build their self-identity. While some people shape their own identity, other’s identities can be chosen for them. “Mericans”, the story by Sandra Cisneros, explains how one’s identity can be influenced by their culture. In the story, a little girl named Micaela is waiting for her grandmother with her 2 brothers. She explains how they are not allowed into the church or the plaza with all of the toys. While waiting outside, vacationers try to talk to them with broken Spanish. The vacationers self identify the kids as ones who can only speak Spanish based on their appearance. The kids retaliate with “‘We’re Mericans, We’re Mericans, We’re Mericans’” (Cisneros 34). “Mericans” is the identityMicaela and her brothers embrace because they can speak both English and Spanish.

The situations explored in the stories also speak to the hopes, dreams, and plans of the characters. In the short story, “Mrs. Sen’s” by Lahiri, Mrs. and Mr. Sen live in Boston and are Indian Americans. Each day, Mrs. Sen babysits Eliot, who is an eleven-year-old boy. Mrs. Sen, who was used to having a chauffeur, realizes that she can’t go anywhere and wants to learn how to drive. Through this new experience, she hopes on becoming more self-sufficient and decides to learn how to drive. Mr. Sen proceeds to say that “‘everything will improve” and Elliot chimed in stating that “you could go places” (Lahiri 119). With the addition of her licenses, Mrs. Sen hopes that her life will turn better and plans to become more self-reliant. Becoming more self-reliant will assist Mrs. Sen in integrating more into the American lifestyle. Not only can people hope to change their life around, but one could also pray for the love that has disappeared. The theme of hopes, dreams, and plans is also relevant in Cisneros’s “Little Miracles, Kept Promises”. This story is made up of 23 letters that were left at Saints’ Shrines. The letter that stood out the most was by Corpus Christi. Corpus was asking the Saints to teach her how “to love” her “husband again. Forgive me” (Cisneros 119). Corpus feels as if she has lost love for her husband. Her dream is to be able to love her husband again and she hopes that the Father Almighty can forgive her for her actions towards her husband.

Cisneros and Lahiri share the themes of Dream, hopes, plans, identity, and lies and deception but all convey the message in new ways. For the theme lies and deception, Lahiri shares that one can lie and deceive for love. This is shown through an affair, in which Miranda and Dev had a relationship while Dev’s wife was away. Cisneros decided to take a different route and showed that one can lie and deceive to escape a broken love. Clorofila has to escape from an abusive husband. Lahiri represents identity as something that one can build onto, allowing them to progress as a person. Mr. Prizada, when visiting the states, was able to develop his identity through a new way of life. Cisneros, on the other hand, explains that identity revolves around how someone is viewed and shows this through how the vacationers made a quick judgment that the kids only spoke Spanish from their appearance. Lastly is the theme of hopes, dreams, and plans. One can have a dream of becoming more self-sufficient and fitting into the American culture. Lahiri explained this through Mrs. Sen’s journey in acquiring her license. Cisneros revealed that others dream of restoring lost love as seen in the Corpus’s letter to the Father Almighty.

Work Cited

  1. Cisneros, Sandra. Woman Hollering Creek. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2013.
  2. Lahiri, Jhumpa. Interpreter of Maladies: Stories. Mariner Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1999.  


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