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Storytelling is an act just as much personal as it is political. Stories help us to craft bridges and allow us to attempt to understand the lived experiences of those different from ourselves. More than that, they allow us to see our commonalities with one another.
I engage with the transnationalist author Jhumpa Lahiri’s works of fiction, in particular, Interpreter of Maladies. Lahiri's collection of stories encapsulates and highlights the gendered, racial, classist, and linguistic hierarches that are pervasive in our daily lives through characters who are affected by colonization, straddling between the values of collectivist and individualist cultures. My interest lies in the foundations of disparity in social positioning for individuals: the various hierarchical ideologies that weave through every facet of our lives. My aim is to analyze Lahiri’s compilation of short stories in light of such aforementioned hierarchies; I draw my analysis from feminist, intersectional, Chicana, postcolonial, and Marxist scholars to explore the text through the critical lens of gender. I also investigate how Lahiri explores the capacity of language to unite aspects of one’s identity and resist cultural domination. Finally, I evaluate the debilitating effects a consumerist, neoliberal system can have on individuals on a personal and cultural level.
For Lahiri, language and storytelling is a medium for cultural resistance. I intend to understand the disparaging consequences of hierarchies and the leveraging capability of storytelling and language as a way to contest the dominant culture and as a means of empowerment.
Gautam, Aastha, "The Plural Self: A Comprehensive Exploration of the Effects of Hierarchy in Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies" (2015). Philosophy Summer Fellows. Paper 2.