I'd say that Jhumpa Lahiri’s message in "The Third and Final Continent" is that friendship can really help ease a difficult transition. But you can find other messages in the story, too, such as the need to bravely forge ahead even when you're in an unfamiliar situation ...
I'd say that Jhumpa Lahiri’s message in "The Third and Final Continent" is that friendship can really help ease a difficult transition. But you can find other messages in the story, too, such as the need to bravely forge ahead even when you're in an unfamiliar situation.
You can read more about possible messages, or themes, in the story here.
How did I come up with these ideas for the story's message?
One way to identify the author's message in any story is to look at what the problem is, how it gets solved, and what that whole process seems to say about the nature of the problem or the way to solve the problem.
Here, the problem seems to be that the narrator feels awkward and uncomfortable in his new country and with his new wife. The solution is that Mrs. Croft offers friendship to the narrator, easing his transition. She also helps the narrator and Mala (his new wife) find something to laugh about together. In this way, her friendship helps the narrator feel more comfortable in both American society and in his new arranged marriage. He truly falls in love with his wife, and they go on to lead a happy life and have a son who goes to an elite college.
So, by looking at how the main problem is resolved, I was able to make a good guess (an inference) about the author's message.
The next step, of course, would be to apply that message to our lives. In this case, we could offer our own friendship to someone going through a difficult transition; or, if we're in a difficult transition ourselves, we could reach out for someone's friendship.
However, not all stories have a happy ending. If you’re looking for the author’s message in a story that ends in tragedy, you might look at how the problem failed to be solved, and what that failure seems to be saying about the nature of the problem or how the problem should have been solved.