Interpreter of Maladies

by

Jhumpa Lahiri

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Mrs. Das Character Analysis

The object of Mr. Kapasi’s romantic interest, Mrs. Das is on holiday in India with her husband, Mr. Das, and their three children, Ronny, Bobby, and Tina.
Like her husband and children, Mrs. Das is of Indian origin but was born and raised in America. At twenty-eight, Mrs. Das is young and attractive, stylishly dressed in western fashion. On her family outing to the Sun Temple, which Mr. Kapasi chaperones in his role as a tour guide, she behaves in an unpleasant way towards her children and her husband, often bickering with the latter. Having married and had children at a young age, she has led a lonely, isolated life weighed down by family responsibilities, and is a very unhappy woman. Towards the ends of the story she reveals to Mr. Kapasi that cheated on her husband with a friend of his years earlier, in a secret affair that led to the birth of her son Bobby. Despite professing to feel terrible around her family because of this, she proves unwilling to take responsibility for her actions. She instead turns to Mr. Kapasi for some relief which, of course, he is unable to offer her; when Mr. Kapasi suggests she is not suffering from any malady other than guilt, she storms away from him.

Mrs. Das Quotes in Interpreter of Maladies

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

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:

She would write to him, asking about his days interpreting at the doctor’s office, and he would respond eloquently, choosing only the most entertaining anecdotes, ones that would make her laugh out loud as she read them in her house in New Jersey. In time she would reveal the disappointment of her marriage, and he his. In this way their friendship would grow, and flourish.

Related Characters: Mr. Kapasi, Mrs. Das, The doctor
Page Number: 20
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:
Get the entire Interpreter of Maladies LitChart as a printable PDF.
Interpreter of Maladies PDF

Mrs. Das Character Timeline in Interpreter of Maladies

The timeline below shows where the character Mrs. Das appears in Interpreter of Maladies. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Interpreter of Maladies
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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. Finally, Mrs. Das... (full context)
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Culture and Identity Theme Icon
Guilt and Responsibility Theme Icon
...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 sons, Ronny and... (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 boy, Ronny, leaves the car to... (full context)
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...makes small talk with Mr. Das as they wait. He learns that both Mr. and Mrs. Das were born in America, not India, and that their parents moved back to India after... (full context)
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...and Mr. Das asks where “Mina” is; Mr. Kapasi is struck that he refers to Mrs. Das by her first name to his daughter. As Mrs. Das returns to the car carrying... (full context)
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Mrs. Das appears impatient when she returns to the car. She slouches in the back seat and... (full context)
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Mrs. Das takes out nail polish and begins painting her nails. Tina asks her mother to paint... (full context)
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As they make their way towards the temple, Mrs. Das complains about the heat and chides her husband for hiring a car which is not... (full context)
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...interpreter in a doctor’s office, translating for patients who do not speak the doctor’s language. Mrs. Das is intrigued by Mr. Kapasi’s work as an interpreter, which she characterizes as “romantic.” She... (full context)
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The group stops for lunch at a roadside restaurant, and Mrs. Das invites Mr. Kapasi to join them at the table. The children leave to look at... (full context)
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Mrs. Das then asks Mr. Kapasi for his address, so that she can send him copies of... (full context)
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...never seen his wife naked, even while making love. He admires the bare backs of Mrs. Das ’s legs as she walks ahead of him. Mr. Kapasi wants to be alone with... (full context)
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As Mr. Kapasi is admiring a statue, Mrs. Das walks up to him and asks him about it. He explains that the statue represents... (full context)
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...with the Das family, Mr. Kapasi drives them towards their hotel. He dreads not seeing Mrs. Das , or hearing from her, for six weeks. He does not look forward to going... (full context)
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When they arrive at the monastic dwellings, Mrs. Das stays in the car, saying she is tired. This annoys Mr. Das, who rebukes her... (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... (full context)
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Mrs. Das tells Mr. Kapasi that she has never told the secret of Bobby’s paternity to anyone—he... (full context)
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Continuing to recount the story of her marriage, Mrs. Das tells Mr. Kapasi that while still a first-time mother, a friend of her husband had... (full context)
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Mr. Kapasi asks Mrs. Das why she is telling him all this, and she scolds him for calling her Mrs.... (full context)
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Mrs. Das addresses Mr. Kapasi’s confusion over why she is sharing this secret with him. She tells... (full context)
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Mr. Kapasi 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... (full context)
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Mrs. Das is outraged by Mr. Kapasi’s question. Her expression changes, and he can see that she... (full context)
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Mrs. Das finds the rest of her family and asks them to wait for her to be... (full context)
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...him, and find him under a tree, terrified, near the crumbs of puffed rice that Mrs. Das has inadvertently dropped on the ground. He is surrounded by monkeys, who are pulling at... (full context)
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...Das seems paralyzed and fumbling in the face of the danger posed to his son. Mrs. Das turns instead to Mr. Kapasi for help, commanding him to do something. Mr. Kapasi shoos... (full context)
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...terrified and bleeding, and so Mr. Kapasi silently hands him over to Mr. Das and Mrs. Das . (full context)
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...family, they comfort him. Mr. Das cleans the boy’s T-shirt and fixes his visor, and Mrs. Das places a bandage on his cut knee. She wants to get away to the hotel... (full context)
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Mrs. Das takes out a hairbrush from her bag to brush Bobby’s hair. As she does so,... (full context)