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Importance Of Children As Minor Characters In Jhumpa Lahiri’s Works

1207 words - 5 pages

Human emotion is the final determinant discerning a good work from a great work, thus a good author will be able to stimulate their readers’ emotions whereas a great author is able to take control and electrify their readers’ emotions. The way an author captures the minds and hearts of a reader while transporting them to a deeper understanding is often unique to that author in particular. Jhumpa Lahiri is an expert who enraptures her readers with complex, sympathetic character development. Each person she creates and chooses to develop in her short stories, no matter how large or small of a role they play, is hugely important to entwining her readers into a profound and empathetic ...view middle of the document...

She precisely and subtly uses children with minor parts in her stories to demonstrate and layer the story themes with more profound and distinctive meaning, while advancing the plot, without turning the story’s focus onto the child itself.
By using children as key, significant characters, Lahiri is able to create minor characters that have definitive positions as individuals critical to theme while underscoring the adult character’s flaws. A large responsibility of children, especially the children of first and second-generation American households, as depicted in many of Lahiri’s writings, is to help quicken the assimilation of the family unit into the American culture. This ability to help assist the assimilation process is largely due to children’s innate capacity to learn by example as well as having the characteristic of being highly impressionable. Due to Lahiri’s own upbringing, from an immigrant family herself, it is of little wonder why she chose innocent children as her window into the hidden lives of those around us. Children are approachable and relatable to every age reader, giving the ability for connection and a deeper understanding that transcends story theme. Lahiri however, does not use them to broaden the age range of her readers but rather to bring about a deeper, more layered understanding of plot and theme. Children are used chiefly to uncover the deeper emotions of both her readers and her characters. As such, Lahiri creates a unique and significant environment within her stories with her minor characters, something rarely seen by such a young author.
A perfect example of the use of the illumination ability of children within theme and story line is seen in Lahiri’s short story ‘Sexy’ (pp.83–110). The seven year old character Rohin acts as the instigator for the main character Miranda to realize that her relationship with Dev, the married man she fell in love with is not proper nor is it constructive to her emotional well being. Drawn by the cultural differences between herself and Dev, Miranda is sweep up by emotion and the dream of possibility. She is drawn into a relationship with Dev, attracted by his unique qualities, while being intrigued by his Indian heritage. Their story runs parallel with that of Laxmi’s cousin, whose husband has absconded with another woman whom ‘he sat next to … on a flight from Delhi to Montreal’ (p.83). His son, Rohin, we learn from Miranda’s friend Laxmi, is very bright but badly...

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