How is their guide, Mr. Kapasi, characterized? (Jhumpa Lahiri's “Interpreter of Maladies”)

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Lynn Ramsson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Mr. Kapasi, the tour guide hired by the Das family, is characterized as a fantasist, saddened by the difficulties of his personal life and seeing escape in his imagination. The emotional life of Mr. Kapasi is vivid and strong, so when he begins to develop romantic feelings towards Mrs. Das, a superficially attractive woman, his disappointment upon realizing that she is not worthy of his fantasy is intense.

When he is not leading tours, Mr. Kapasi is an interpreter at a doctor's office, so he often finds himself speaking of physical complaints, pain, and other problems that afflict the sick and elderly. Though this role gives Mr. Kapasi opportunities to develop and practice empathy, it also gives him a lot of exposure to sadness. This exposure as well as his own loveless marriage and the death of his young son makes Mr. Kapasi a disappointed person, so when he realizes that Mrs. Das is not at all the woman he thought she was, he feels the shock more strongly than seems suitable.

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Interpreter of Maladies

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