Term of Award

Spring 2023

Degree Name

Master of Arts in English (M.A.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Literature

Committee Chair

Lindsey Chappell

Committee Member 1

Bradley Edwards

Committee Member 2

Hans-Georg Erney


Jhumpa Lahiri (1967) is one of the prominent American writers of Bengali descent, contributing mainly to diaspora literature to depict the nuanced aspects of Bengalis in their immigrant lives. Lahiri’s stories in Interpreter of Maladies (1999) and Unaccustomed Earth (2008) illustrate the challenges of the Bengali diaspora due to their indentured identity, which I have used to refer to the Bengali people’s culturally-rooted identity. This study investigates how the diaspora’s native cultural identity fluctuates in connection with the host culture. The research renders a reconfigured image of “home” because the concept of home changes for these people after migration in “Mrs. Sen’s” and “The Third and Final Continent.” Lahiri’s characters find it challenging to cook their culture-specific food like fish curry and speak Bengali despite building a sense of community by cooking and sharing Bengali dishes and speaking their mother tongue. The study extends the function of memory in collective recollections of the Subcontinent’s historical events like Partition and Bangladesh’s Liberation War in “When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine” and “A Real Durwan.” These Bengali people in Lahiri’s stories recollect the historical past while recounting narratives of their lives. The study places Lahiri’s stories in diaspora and migration discourses to analyze her portrayal of Bengali people’s cultural retention in immigrant life and their way of intermingling with the host culture that helps them grow cosmopolitan.

Research Data and Supplementary Material