When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine

by

Jhumpa Lahiri

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine can help.
Themes and Colors
Family, Ritual, and Shared Time Theme Icon
Diaspora, Alienation, and Loss Theme Icon
Food, Culture, and Connection Theme Icon
Independence, Revolution, and Violence Theme Icon
Youth and Innocence vs. Maturity and Responsibility Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Family, Ritual, and Shared Time

In “When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine,” the adult narrator, Lilia, looks back on her childhood and remembers being fascinated by her parents’ dinner guest, the kindly Mr. Pirzada. Back in East Pakistan (what is now known as Bangladesh), Mr. Pirzada has a wife and seven daughters of his own—but he has been separated from them, first by moving to the U.S. for work and then by the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War that…

read analysis of Family, Ritual, and Shared Time

Diaspora, Alienation, and Loss

Lilia, the narrator of “When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine,” grows up in a suburb of Boston. At school, she is taught exclusively American history and traditions, but at home, Lilia’s parents—who emigrated from Calcutta—try to educate her about the food, neighborly traditions, and family members they left behind in India. Lilia’s curiosity about her cultural roots increases when she meets Mr. Pirzada, a man from East Pakistan (now known as Bangladesh) who…

read analysis of Diaspora, Alienation, and Loss

Food, Culture, and Connection

Descriptions of food are everywhere in “When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine”—though the backdrop of the story is the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971, the main action consists of a series of dinners in suburban Boston. Lilia, the story’s narrator, is looking back on her childhood as the daughter of Indian immigrants. The family’s frequent dinner guest, Mr. Pirzada, on the other hand, hails from the city of Dacca in East Pakistan (what…

read analysis of Food, Culture, and Connection
Get the entire When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine LitChart as a printable PDF.
When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine PDF

Independence, Revolution, and Violence

Lilia, the narrator of “When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine,” reflects on her childhood, much of which she spent learning the history of American independence by heart at school. Her school’s proximity to Boston means a steady stream of field trips to Revolutionary War memorials, and the curriculum focuses heavily on George Washington and the other Founding Fathers. But while Lilia’s schooling tells a celebratory tale of historical revolution, her own family is wrapped…

read analysis of Independence, Revolution, and Violence

Youth and Innocence vs. Maturity and Responsibility

Though “When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine” is about decidedly adult subject matter—the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971, which was a time of mass death and displacement for Bangladeshis (then known as East Pakistanis)—it is told through the context of the narrator, Lilia’s, childhood. Each night, Lilia, who lives in a quiet suburb of Boston, watches the news on TV and sees children her own age in East Pakistan trying to survive the violent…

read analysis of Youth and Innocence vs. Maturity and Responsibility