Interpreter of Maladies

by

Jhumpa Lahiri

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Hanuman Monkeys Symbol Analysis

Hanuman Monkeys Symbol Icon

Throughout “The Interpreter of Maladies” Hanuman monkeys represent the dangers that threaten the Das family as a consequence of Mr. Das and Mrs. Das’s negligence as both parents and partners. The animals first appear while Mr. Kapasi is driving the couple and their children towards the Sun Temple; one causes the tour guide to brake suddenly when it jumps in front of the car—in this moment, representing a literal, physical threat to the family’s safety. In response, Mr. Das displays a distinct lack of concern, instead simply remarking on his children’s excitement to see the animals and pulling out his camera. His wife, meanwhile, begins painting her nails.

When Mrs. Das later storms away from Mr. Kapasi after confessing that her son Bobby is the product of an affair, the monkeys, lured by crumbs of puffed rice that she has dropped from a snack bag, trail her ominously. They then begin to attack Bobby—the unwitting product of Mrs. Das’s affair—having been led to him by the food that his mother left behind. Mrs. Das’s failure to watch where she is dropping crumbs reflects her broader refusal to take responsibility for her actions; both this and the affair—itself a betrayal of her marriage vows—put her family directly in harm’s way. Mr. Das is similarly neglectful, having failed to pay much attention to his wife or keep an eye on his son. The presence of the monkeys in this final moment thus underscores that, by neglecting their duties to each other and their children, Mr. and Mrs. Das have left their family vulnerable to attack.

Hanuman Monkeys Quotes in Interpreter of Maladies

The Interpreter of Maladies quotes below all refer to the symbol of Hanuman Monkeys. 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

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:

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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Hanuman Monkeys Symbol Timeline in Interpreter of Maladies

The timeline below shows where the symbol Hanuman Monkeys appears in Interpreter of Maladies. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Interpreter of Maladies
Culture and Identity Theme Icon
The children all become excited when they encounter monkeys perched in trees along the road down which Mr. Kapasi drives. One of the monkeys... (full context)
Knowledge and Fantasy Theme Icon
...invites Mr. Kapasi to join 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... (full context)
Culture and Identity Theme Icon
Language and Communication  Theme Icon
Guilt and Responsibility Theme Icon
...off with Ronny, Bobby, and Tina, carrying the latter on his shoulders. Along the path, monkeys are perched. They surround Mr. Das and the children, who stop to observe them. (full context)
Knowledge and Fantasy Theme Icon
Language and Communication  Theme Icon
Guilt and Responsibility Theme Icon
...stay with her. They observe as Bobby passes a stick back and forth with a monkey. Watching him, Mr. Kapasi innocently comments that Bobby is a brave boy. In response, Mrs.... (full context)
Knowledge and Fantasy Theme Icon
Language and Communication  Theme Icon
Guilt and Responsibility Theme Icon
...the car, she eats a snack of puffed rice. Crumbs fall to the ground, attracting monkeys that leap down from the trees and begin to trail her. She is unaware of... (full context)
Guilt and Responsibility Theme Icon
...puffed rice that Mrs. Das has inadvertently dropped on the ground. He is surrounded by monkeys, who are pulling at his T-shirt. One of them is hitting his leg with a... (full context)
Guilt and Responsibility Theme Icon
Tina, panicking like everyone else as she watches her brother being attacked by the monkeys, appeals to her father, and yet Mr. Das seems paralyzed and fumbling in the face... (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 his paternity, but resists.... (full context)
Knowledge and Fantasy Theme Icon
Guilt and Responsibility Theme Icon
...this. His gaze follows the paper as it flutters up to the trees, where the monkeys are now perched, looking down at the family. Mr. Kapasi turns his gaze back to... (full context)