Compare the incomplete, unhappy life of Mrs. Sen and Mrs. Das in Mrs Sen's in Interpreter of Maladies.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Mrs. Das's and Mrs. Sen's incomplete and unhappy lives are rooted in how they feel alone from anyone else.

Both Mrs. Das and Mrs. Sen are incapable of effectively communicating about the emptiness in their lives.  As a result, they live an incomplete and unhappy life.  Both women cannot effectively communicate their emptiness.  

Mrs. Das emotional isolation is seen at different points in the story.  She does not do Tina's nails when she asks, and rebukes Mr. Das for suggesting that the five of them pose for a picture. Mrs. Das is taken in with Kapasi being an "interpreter of maladies" because it provides an audience for her.  She tells him that he is the only one to know that Bobby is not her husband's.  She wishes to find some type of receptive force that will allow her to communicate the unhappiness in her world:

I feel terrible looking at my children, and at Raj, always terrible. I have terrible urges, Mr. Kapasi, to throw things away. One day I had the urge to throw everything I own out the window, the television, the children, everything. Don’t you think it’s unhealthy?

The fact that she shares her pain with Mr. Kapasi, a stranger, is a reflection of her isolation.  Mrs. Das is emotionally distant and this barrier prevents her from being happy.

Mrs. Sen's incomplete world is an unhappy one because she is not in India. This is evident early on in the story when "the mere mention of India seemed to release something in her."  We also get glimpses of the emotional difficulty in Mrs. Sen's life when she asks Elliot if anyone would respond if she were to "scream at the top of her lungs."  Such a question reflects her lonely condition.  The silence of America terrifies her.  Later on in the story, she feels sad over the request from back home to send pictures, reflecting an incomplete level to her life because of her distance from India.  An exchange with Elliot adds another layer to her unhappiness.  When Elliot says that he will visit his mother each day when she is in a retirement home, Mrs. Sen challenges him:

You say that now, but you will see, when you are a man your life will be in places you cannot know now.... You will have a wife, and children of your own, and they will want to be driven to different places at the same tie.  No matter how kind they are, one day they will complain about visiting your mother, and you will get tired of it too, Elliot.  You will miss one day, and another, and then she will have to drag yourself onto a bus just to get herself a bag of lozenges.

In this statement, Mrs. Sen is experiencing emotional dissatisfaction in her life.  She perceives her husband as non- responsive and is seeing life pass by her.  As a result, Mrs. Sen's unhappiness and incomplete life reflects emotional isolation.

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