What is the primary theme in "Interpreter of Maladies" by Jhumpa Lahiri?

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The primary theme of this powerful short story has to with our human inability to accurately communicate our own—or understand others'—emotional experience. Mr. Kapasi is an excellent communicator. His two jobs depend on his superior ability to communicate. First, his main job is as an interpreter in a doctor's office; when patients come in and they do not speak the same language as the doctor, it is Mr. Kapasi who knows the two languages so well that he can accurately translate the one to the other. Second, his job as a tour guide also relies on his ability to speak other languages well; his English, as we see throughout the story, is impeccable.

However, it is his own emotional experience that he cannot seem to understand or put into words, and he certainly—perhaps ironically —misinterprets Mrs. Das's feelings for him. His own marriage is a disaster, and he and his wife cannot effectively communicate, though it seems clear to us that they are no longer in love. He believes...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 830 words.)

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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on January 24, 2020