The Lowland

The Lowland

by

Jhumpa Lahiri

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The Lowland: Part 2, Chapter 3 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Subhash wishes he could tell Udayan about the “profound step [he has] taken” in embarking upon an affair with Holly, but knows that to accurately describe Holly—and the arrangement between them—in a letter or a telegram would be impossible.
As Subhash invests more in his life in Rhode Island and grows closer to Holly, he feels his connection to India, and to Udayan, becoming more and more tenuous.
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Subhash goes to Holly’s every Friday, and sometimes stays through the weekend. They are deeply at ease with one another. A few times, Subhash and Holly do things that married people would do, like going to the supermarket—Subhash knows that in Calcutta, he would never do these things with a woman during their courtship. On the other hand, there are things that dating couples normally do that Holly and Subhash do not, like going to the movies.
The cultural gap between Holly and Subhash is highlighted by the difference in romantic custom. Subhash is surprised by how different this relationship is from what he’d expected—of course, the odd way they do things is deeply related to the fact that Holly is still married, and they are having a physical affair rather than a tenable relationship.
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When he is with Holly, Subhash knows that he is “cultivat[ing] an ongoing defiance of his parents’ expectations.” Subhash often thinks of Narasimhan, the Indian professor at the university, and his American wife, and wonders if such a life could be possible for himself—though he always winds up reminding himself that it would not. He is torn between wanting to cut things off with Holly because he knows they have no future for them and wanting to push things forward towards an unreachable horizon. 
Subhash eventually realizes that he and Holly are carrying on in a way which is unsustainable. Though he fantasizes about making things work in the long-term, he cannot manage to fully deceive himself into believing that such a feat would actually be possible.
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