How does the plot help to illuminate the differing cultural viewpoints of Mr. Kapasi and of Mr. and Mrs. Das? Which cultural viewpoint is presented with greater sympathy?

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podunc eNotes educator| Certified Educator

While Mr. and Mrs. Das are of Indian descent, they come to their parents' homeland as tourists. To Mr. Kapasi, a traditional Indian man, they are just as foreign in their behavior and in their speech as "the elderly couple from Scotland" he had driven in his car the day before. The tour that the Das family takes with Mr. Kapasi allows Lahiri to juxtapose their two cultures in several different settings.

The Dases are the outsiders in India, but it is Mr. Kapasi who is the "fish out of water" in the story. He is surrounded by this American family as he drives them to different cultural attractions. They interpret what they see differently: Where Mr. Kapasi sees an emaciated man on the side of the road, Mr. Das sees an interesting "shot" for his camera. While Mr. Kapasi sees his job is a "sign of his failings," Mrs. Das sees it as "so romantic." The crucial scene where Mrs. Das confides in Mr. Kapasi that Bobby is not her husband's son makes their cultural differences insurmountable--Mr. Kapasi loses his brief infatuation with Mrs. Das and she in turn loses interest in him.

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Interpreter of Maladies

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