Interpreter of Maladies

by

Jhumpa Lahiri

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Bobby Character Analysis

The second son of Mr. Das and Mrs. Das, Bobby, eight years old, is different in appearance from his younger sister Tina and his older brother Ronny. This is because he is in fact not Mr. Das’s biological son, but rather was conceived as a result of an affair that his mother had with a friend of her husband’s. Neither Bobby nor his father know the truth about his paternity. Born and raised in the United States, Bobby is dressed like an American and speaks English with an American accent. The sights and sounds of India—where his family is vacationing—are new to him. He’s also a brave and adventurous boy. When the family encounters Hanuman monkeys, Bobby takes a stick and passes it back and forth with one of the animals. At one point, however, he is threatened by danger when he wanders away from the family and is surrounded by a group of monkeys who begin to attack him. Mr. Kapasi comes to the boy’s rescue.

Bobby Quotes in Interpreter of Maladies

The Interpreter of Maladies quotes below are all either spoken by Bobby or refer to Bobby. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Knowledge and Fantasy Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Mariner Books edition of Interpreter of Maladies published in 1999.
Interpreter of Maladies Quotes

The first thing Mr. Kapasi had noticed when he saw Mr. and Mrs. Das, standing with their children under the portico of the hotel, was that they were very young, perhaps not even thirty. In addition to Tina they had two boys, Ronny and Bobby, who appeared very close in age and had teeth covered in a network of flashing silver wires. The family looked Indian but dressed as foreigners did, the children in stiff, brightly colored clothing and caps with translucent visors.

Related Characters: Mr. Kapasi, Mrs. Das, Mr. Das, Bobby, Ronny, Tina
Page Number: 13
Explanation and Analysis:

They reached Konarak at two-thirty. The temple, made of sandstone, was a massive pyramid-like structure in the shape of a chariot. It was dedicated to the great master of life, the sun […] “It says the temple occupies about a hundred and seventy acres of land,” Mr. Das said, reading from his book.

Related Characters: Mr. Das (speaker), Mr. Kapasi, Mr. Das, Bobby, Ronny, The doctor
Related Symbols: The Sun Temple
Page Number: 21
Explanation and Analysis:

Bobby was conceived in the afternoon, on a sofa littered with rubber teething toys, after the friend learned that a London pharmaceutical company had hired him, while Ronny cried to be freed from his playpen. She made no protest when the friend touched the small of her back as she was about to make a pot of coffee, then pulled her against his crisp navy suit.

Related Symbols: Hanuman Monkeys
Page Number: 26
Explanation and Analysis:

“For God’s sake, stop calling me Mrs. Das. I’m twenty-eight. You probably have children my age.”

“Not quite.” It disturbed Mr. Kapasi to learn that she thought of him as a parent. The feeling he had had toward her, that had made him check his reflection in the rearview mirror as they drove, evaporated a little.

“I told you because of your talents.” She put the packet of puffed rice back into her bag without folding over the top.

“I don’t understand,” Mr. Kapasi said.

Related Characters: Mr. Kapasi (speaker), Mrs. Das (speaker), Mr. Das, Bobby
Page Number: 26-27
Explanation and Analysis:

When they found him, a little farther down the path under a tree, he was surrounded by a group of monkeys, over a dozen of them, pulling at his T-shirt with their long black fingers. The puffed rice Mrs. Das had spilled was scattered at his feet, raked over by the monkeys’ hands. The boy was silent, his body frozen, swift tears running down his startled face. His bare legs were dusty and red with welts from where one of the monkeys struck him repeatedly with the stick he had given it to earlier.

Related Characters: Mrs. Das, Mr. Das, Bobby
Related Symbols: Hanuman Monkeys
Page Number: 28
Explanation and Analysis:

When she whipped out the hairbrush, the slip of paper with Mr. Kapasi’s address on it fluttered away in the wind. No one but Mr. Kapasi noticed. He watched as it rose, carried higher and higher by the breeze, into the trees where the monkeys now sat, solemnly observing the scene below. Mr. Kapasi observed it too, knowing that this was the picture of the Das family he would preserve in his mind forever.

Related Characters: Mr. Kapasi, Mrs. Das, Mr. Das, Bobby, Ronny, Tina
Related Symbols: Hanuman Monkeys
Page Number: 29
Explanation and Analysis:
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Bobby Character Timeline in Interpreter of Maladies

The timeline below shows where the character Bobby appears in Interpreter of Maladies. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Interpreter of Maladies
Knowledge and Fantasy Theme Icon
Culture and Identity Theme Icon
Guilt and Responsibility Theme Icon
...was how young they look. In addition to Tina, they have two sons, Ronny and Bobby, both of whom have braces. Though they “look Indian,” the Dases “dress as foreigners.” (full context)
Culture and Identity Theme Icon
Language and Communication  Theme Icon
...so. Mr. Das, who is reading a guide book about India, tells his younger boy, Bobby, to follow his brother, but the younger boy refuses. (full context)
Culture and Identity Theme Icon
...once again starts the car and the group continues on its way. The middle child, Bobby, sitting up front with Mr. Kapasi and Mr. Das, asks why Mr. Kapasi is driving... (full context)
Culture and Identity Theme Icon
Language and Communication  Theme Icon
Guilt and Responsibility Theme Icon
...Mrs. Das refuses to leave the car, and so Mr. Das walks off with Ronny, Bobby, and Tina, carrying the latter on his shoulders. Along the path, monkeys are perched. They... (full context)
Knowledge and Fantasy Theme Icon
Language and Communication  Theme Icon
Guilt and Responsibility Theme Icon
...Das and the children, but she tells him to stay with her. They observe as Bobby passes a stick back and forth with a monkey. Watching him, Mr. Kapasi innocently comments... (full context)
Knowledge and Fantasy Theme Icon
Language and Communication  Theme Icon
Guilt and Responsibility Theme Icon
Mrs. Das tells Mr. Kapasi that she has never told the secret of Bobby’s paternity to anyone—he is the first person she has shared the secret with. She then... (full context)
Knowledge and Fantasy Theme Icon
Guilt and Responsibility Theme Icon
...not resist. She slept with him while Ronny cried in his playpen. Her second son, Bobby was conceived as a result of the affair. Mrs. Das also tells Mr. Kapasi that... (full context)
Guilt and Responsibility Theme Icon
The group realizes that Bobby, the middle boy, is missing. They begin calling for him, and find him under a... (full context)
Guilt and Responsibility Theme Icon
...for help, commanding him to do something. Mr. Kapasi shoos away the monkeys and carries Bobby to his parents. (full context)
Knowledge and Fantasy Theme Icon
Guilt and Responsibility Theme Icon
As Mr. Kapasi carries Bobby away from the monkeys, he has an impulse to tell the boy the secret about... (full context)
Guilt and Responsibility Theme Icon
When Mr. Kapasi delivers Bobby to the family, they comfort him. Mr. Das cleans the boy’s T-shirt and fixes his... (full context)
Knowledge and Fantasy Theme Icon
Guilt and Responsibility Theme Icon
Mrs. Das takes out a hairbrush from her bag to brush Bobby’s hair. As she does so, the piece of paper with Mr. Kapasi’s address scribbled on... (full context)