The Lowland

The Lowland

by

Jhumpa Lahiri

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The Lowland: Part 4, Chapter 2 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
As Subhash adjusts to life with Gauri, he notes the careful ways their routines are aligned but not intertwined. Gauri walks through the living room, often, as if Subhash is not even there. Subhash believes that once the baby comes, things will change, and he and Gauri will come together not only as parents but as husband and wife.
Subhash and Gauri are both present in the house they share, but emotionally absent from one another. They move around like ghosts, and Gauri’s aloofness becomes a force all its own, confusing and worrying Subhash.
Themes
Presence in Absence Theme Icon
Subhash runs into Narasimhan, who invites Subhash and Gauri over for dinner. The night of the dinner party, Subhash and Gauri arrive at the house to find a number of Indian couples already there. Subhash is relieved to see that as the party goes on, Gauri is mingling with the other wives—after the party, however, on the way home, Gauri seems tired and annoyed. Subhash suggests Gauri pursue friendships with other women, noting that their presence will be helpful after the baby arrives, but Gauri insists she does not need or want friendship with those women—she has “nothing in common with them,” she says.
Despite the fact that in the previous chapter Gauri had a demonstrable desire to explore her social surroundings and perhaps even begin assimilating into her new environment, she is aloof and disengaged at the dinner party—much to Subhash’s dismay. Subhash perhaps thinks that if he can get Gauri excited about friendships, she will one day come around to the idea of the two of them embarking on a relationship themselves.
Themes
Heritage and Homeland Theme Icon
Presence in Absence Theme Icon
A few days later, Subhash arrives home to an empty apartment. On Gauri’s bureau are the shredded remnants of all her saris, which she has cut into scraps with kitchen scissors. A few minutes later, Subhash hears Gauri coming in the front door. He goes to greet her and sees that she has cut her hair into a short bob and is dressed in slacks and a sweater. Subhash asks Gauri why she ruined her clothes and cut her hair—she replies only that she was “tired” of her old things and her old appearance.
Gauri has been waffling between her desire to retreat further into herself and her desire to sever herself from the person she once was. In this scene, she takes decisive—even manic—action in an attempt to make herself new and different, even unrecognizable.
Themes
Heritage and Homeland Theme Icon
Presence in Absence Theme Icon
Related Quotes
That night, Subhash has an erotic dream about Gauri. He wakes up confused and aroused. Though they are legally married, he feels guilty for having such feelings for her—he knows it is too soon. He cannot deny, though, that just as he as inherited Udayan’s wife and child, he has inherited a need for Gauri physically.
Subhash struggles with his desire for Gauri in this scene as he considers his duty to Udayan’s memory, and to making Gauri feel as comfortable as possible.
Themes
Duty and Desire Theme Icon
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