The Lowland

The Lowland

by

Jhumpa Lahiri

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The Lowland: Part 4, Chapter 3 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
As summer arrives, Gauri continues spending time on campus, enjoying the empty library now that classes have ended. Each day she sits alone in the philosophy section and reads. One day, Gauri’s contractions begin in the library. She returns home to pack a bag, and then waits for Subhash to come home. They drive to the hospital together in the midst of a torrential summer rain. Gauri gives birth to a girl, and as they bring her home from the hospital, Gauri adjusts to new motherhood and the “all-consuming” awareness of her daughter, Bela. Gauri is afraid of harming her daughter by falling asleep while she’s nursing or somehow accidentally breaking Bela’s neck. To stop these fears from taking over, Gauri begins letting Subhash hold Bela more often. She tells herself, though, that Subhash is simply “playing a part”; the child, Gauri feels, does not really belong to him.
As big changes arrive in Gauri and Subhash’s lives, they must adjust all over again to their relationship with one another and their fears, insecurities, and deep-rooted traumas about the arrangement they have entered into. Gauri herself is insecure about her abilities to mother her child well, but at the same time cannot erase from her mind the fact that Subhash is not Bela’s true father. This tension will continue to plague Subhash, Gauri, and indeed even Bela, as the novel unfolds. 
Themes
Duty and Desire Theme Icon
Secrets and Conspiracies Theme Icon
Subhash is surprised and relieved that Bela recognizes his voice and sleeps contentedly in his arms—she has no idea that he is an “imposter.” One night, while attending to Bela, Subhash sits down with her on Gauri’s bed and falls asleep. When he wakes up, it is morning and Gauri is nursing Bela. Subhash apologizes for having fallen asleep in Gauri’s bed, but Gauri asks him to stay; she is ready, she says, to begin sharing a bed with him. As Subhash and Gauri begin making love with one another over the next several weeks, Subhash is at first afraid that Gauri will never emotionally accept him. After the first few times they have sex, though, Gauri is engaged and even enthusiastic, and through their lovemaking they give each other a sense of support. 
Subhash is revealed to have his own insecurities—he, too, cannot fully accept the fact that he will be the only father this child will ever know. As a result, perhaps, of their twinned insecurity and self-doubt, Subhash and Gauri begin a romantic relationship—or at least a sexual one—in earnest. They seem to be growing close to one another, and even if they are only supporting each other physically, it is a step in the direction of creating a cohesive home and family unit. 
Themes
Duty and Desire Theme Icon
Secrets and Conspiracies Theme Icon
Presence in Absence Theme Icon