A Temporary Matter by Jhumpa Lahiri - Short Story Analysis

2021-06-17 20:55:19
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885 words
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Carnegie Mellon University
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A Temporary Matter is a story by Lahiri which focuses on secrets and grief among people. Shukumar and Shoba are a married couple who are notified that their electricity would be turned off at 8 PM for five evenings to fix a power line. The couple is reeling from the loss of their child six months earlier. The two are avoiding each other, and their friends where Shoba is engaged with her work and Shukumar is dawdling to finish his dissertation. Electricity outage allows for the intimacy between the couple which has not been experienced since their son died.

The story portrays the grief couple experience after they lose a child. The grief of losing the child causes a breakdown in communication in the relationship. The silence between the couple ultimately destroys them in their grief until Shukumar and Shoba become two different people. The grief can be called Delayed grief where emotions and reactions in response to death are postponed until after six months. The grief is set off by the loss of electricity which is not related to what they have gone through but brings them together (Lahiri). The couple's reactions are typically excessive of the existing situation. They did not initially realize that they had delayed the grief and for this reason they become emotional. As they do not share experiences, the couple grew apart, and their ultimate secrets become painful.

The introduction is captivating as the reader becomes eager to know what the notice on the temporary matter was to cause. The loss of electricity for five days culminates the reader to the events in those five days. There is scant information about the characters and the setting meaning that if the reader needs more information, then he has read deeper. The introduction is well laid to instill suspense and eagerness for more. As the story is about grief, the reader cannot get the information from the introduction paragraph and for this reason, they develop a sense to read more.

The author evokes grief by using emotional phrases and words that the reader can associate with. The plot of the story described different life perspectives with events developed around the climax of the story. At each level of an event, the author takes the reader back to the characters experiences that culminated the event. This gives the reader a better perspective of the event by relating to the past experiences. Small events that describe the character are used to make the reader feel empathy for the character by associating with the experience. The story has minimal dialogue that is correctly written and easily read for the reader to understand the happening. However, much of the content is used to describe the character and elements that culminated. After each dialogue, the reader can associate with the content as the previous events are described. According to how the characters are portrayed, the dialogue is authentic to the character speaking in each level.

The story is developed around the events that lead to the climax of the story. Loss of electricity makes the couple come together, lack of candles make Shukumar find birthday candles which makes him remember of how Shoba threw a surprise party for him when they were close and happy, coming together made the couple talk of the past events that had made them what they were while being open to each other made them grief the loss of their son which they had not done in the past.

The characters are believable in the current social setting of the married couple facing the same problems as the characters in the story. For instance, the couple is not able to relate to each other which is evident in most families. They have depth in that the couple has the normal life experienced and are affected by grief after the loss. The plot plays an important role. The environment, the darkness portrays a metaphor for Shoba and Shukumars relationship as well as depicts a safe space for the couple to bond (Lahiri). The couple had a dark sense of normalcy after the death of their child whereas the power outage forces an intimacy that they had forgotten. The darkness ushers in intimacy and couple make love for the first time since the childs death. The melting of snow mimics the freedom experienced by Shukumar and Shoba from their grief. These events show clear resolution of conflicts in an interesting way. The reader can relate to the character and plot elements in the story up to the level all things are settled.

The writer has successfully evoked grief and compassion to the reader using different strategies. First, is describing each character experiences using detailed information. This makes the reader relate to the character. Secondly, the events have been described using enough dialogue and explanation that led to each. The reader can, therefore, understand what led to another particularly in the loss of the child. By using a third-person perspective of Shukumar, Temporary Matter is told in the way that the reader understands the experiences. By unfolding mostly in memory as each event, the content triggers emotions of the couples life together.

 

References

Lahiri, j. (n.d.). A temporary Matter. In New York Time. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/books/first/l/lahiri-maladies.html

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