Interpreter of Maladies

by

Jhumpa Lahiri

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Mr. Das Character Analysis

Mr. Das is the husband of Mrs. Das and the father of Bobby, Ronny, and Tina. A middle school science teacher in New Jersey, where he lives with his family, he is on holiday with his wife and children in India. Like the rest of the Das family, Mr. Das has roots in India but was born and raised in America. Throughout the family’s outing to the Sun Temple, Mr. Das is busy reading from an “India” guidebook and snapping pictures with his camera. He seems to be out of touch with his wife and children, who often ignore or challenge his directions and wishes. Such interactions reveal that he lacks authority and respect as a father and a husband. Indeed, Mr. Das himself is unaware of how completely out of touch he is: he does not even know that his second son, Bobby, is in fact not his biological child, but a product of an affair that his wife had with a friend of his.

Mr. Das Quotes in Interpreter of Maladies

The Interpreter of Maladies quotes below are all either spoken by Mr. Das or refer to Mr. Das. 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:

While Mr. Das adjusted his telephoto lens, Mrs. Das reached into her straw bag and pulled out a bottle of colorless nail polish, which she proceeded to stroke on the tip of her index finger.

The little girl stuck out her hand. “Mine too. Mommy, do mine too.”

“Leave me alone,” Mrs. Das said, blowing on her nail and turning her body slightly. “You’re making me mess up.”

Related Characters: Mrs. Das (speaker), Tina (speaker), Mr. Das
Related Symbols: The Camera
Page Number: 15-16
Explanation and Analysis:

Mr. Kapasi pulled over to the side of the road as Mr. Das took a picture of a barefoot man, his head wrapped in a dirty turban, seated on top of a cart of grain sacks pulled by a pair of bullocks. Both the man and the bullocks were emaciated.

Related Characters: Mr. Kapasi, Mr. Das
Related Symbols: The Camera
Page Number: 17
Explanation and Analysis:

For this reason it flattered Mr. Kapasi that Mrs. Das was so intrigued by his job. Unlike his wife, she had reminded him of its intellectual challenges. She had also used the word “romantic.” She did not behave in a romantic way toward her husband, and yet she had used the word to describe him. He wondered if Mr. and Mrs. Das were a bad match, just as he and his wife were.

Page Number: 19
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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Interpreter of Maladies PDF

Mr. Das Character Timeline in Interpreter of Maladies

The timeline below shows where the character Mr. Das 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
Language and Communication  Theme Icon
Guilt and Responsibility Theme Icon
While stopped at a tea stall, Mr. Kapasi observes as Mr. Das and Mrs. Das bicker over who should accompany their young daughter, Tina, to the bathroom.... (full context)
Knowledge and Fantasy Theme Icon
Culture and Identity Theme Icon
Guilt and Responsibility Theme Icon
...picked the family up from their hotel. The first thing Mr. Kapasi had noticed about Mr. Das and Mrs. Das was how young they look. In addition to Tina, they have two... (full context)
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While Mr. Kapasi waits with Mr. Das and his sons for Mrs. Das and Tina to return from the restroom, the older... (full context)
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Mr. Kapasi, who is 46 years old, makes small talk with Mr. Das as they wait. He learns that both Mr. and Mrs. Das were born in America,... (full context)
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Tina returns from the restroom, and Mr. Das asks where “Mina” is; Mr. Kapasi is struck that he refers to Mrs. Das by... (full context)
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Mr. Kapasi continues talking with Mr. Das, who tells him the family lives in New Jersey, and that he is a science... (full context)
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...Mr. Kapasi to brake suddenly. Another monkey then jumps onto the hood of the car. Mr. Das asks Mr. Kapasi to stop the car so that he can take photos of the... (full context)
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After Mr. Das is finished taking pictures, Mr. Kapasi once again starts the car and the group continues... (full context)
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...husband for hiring a car which is not air-conditioned just to save a little money. Mr. Das tells her it’s not hot. (full context)
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Giving in to his penchant for photo-taking, Mr. Das asks Mr. Kapasi to stop the car so he can take a picture with his... (full context)
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Mr. Das, while taking photos of the man on the cart, makes small talk with Mr. Kapasi,... (full context)
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...them at the table. The children leave to look at monkeys perched in the trees. Mr. Das instructions Mr. Kapasi and Mrs. Das into a pose for a photograph at the table,... (full context)
Culture and Identity Theme Icon
...thirteenth century in dedication to the sun, Mr. Kapasi explains. As the family walks around, Mr. Das takes photos with his camera and reads aloud from his guidebook about the site to... (full context)
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...suggests taking a detour to visit monastic dwellings located on hills at Udayagiri and Khadagir. Mr. Das and Mrs. Das agree to the detour, and Mr. Kapasi is relieved. (full context)
Culture and Identity Theme Icon
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Guilt and Responsibility Theme Icon
...the monastic dwellings, Mrs. Das stays in the car, saying she is tired. This annoys Mr. Das, who rebukes her for wearing uncomfortable shoes. He wants Mrs. Das to accompany them because... (full context)
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Mr. Kapasi, still in the car with Mrs. Das, tells her that he will join Mr. Das and the children, but she tells him to stay with her. They observe as Bobby... (full context)
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...the secret with. She then goes on to recount the story of her relationship to Mr. Das, whom she knew since she was a child through her parents, who were good friends... (full context)
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...had come to New Jersey for job interviews and stayed with them. One day, while Mr. Das was at work, his friend received news that he had been offered a job. He... (full context)
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...considers what to do, thinking that he should advise Mrs. Das to be honest with Mr. Das, and that perhaps he could preside between them as a mediator. At this juncture, however,... (full context)
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...of her family and asks them to wait for her to be in a photograph. Mr. Das wants all of them to pose for a family photograph, which Mr. Kapasi is to... (full context)
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...she watches her brother being attacked by the monkeys, appeals to her father, and yet Mr. Das seems paralyzed and fumbling in the face of the danger posed to his son. Mrs.... (full context)
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...The boy is terrified and bleeding, and so Mr. Kapasi silently hands him over to Mr. Das and Mrs. Das. (full context)
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When Mr. Kapasi delivers Bobby to the family, they comfort him. Mr. Das cleans the boy’s T-shirt and fixes his visor, and Mrs. Das places a bandage on... (full context)