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When Mr Pirzada Came To Dine English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 878 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Analyze how Lahiri creates and develops the character of Lilia. How does Lahiri use Lilia to convey a theme? Use detailed and specific examples from the text to support your claims.

The story takes place in the autumn of 1971 when two countries, India and Pakistan, were having serious conflicts. In “When Mr.Pirzda Came to Dine”, the author Jhumpa Lahiri illustrates an experience of a young girl – the character of Lilia who narrates the whole story in her perspective. Lilia’s Indian born parents entertain a man who is temporarily working in the U.S. At this moment, Lilia suddenly confronts with information about the conditions of life beyond her sheltered suburban environment. The countries where the man and lilia came from declares war, while the two friends join together. This story reveals Lahiri’s intention to tell readers about the irony between international and individual relationships and importance of custom. The story also alerts readers how Americans are unaware of history. Through examining the events of the story, it can be seen that Lilia’s character develops throughout the plot thus her change in personality successfully relates to the theme.

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Lilia’s point of view prevails in “When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine.” She is a ten year-old Indian girl. The objective narration tells her thoughts from the perspective of an adult Lilia recalling childhood events. The author reveals what Lilia feels as a ten-year old in adult terms. Lilia is portrayed as a child with a developing understanding of the cultural and social events occurring around her. Her parents and Pirzada represent the Indian world at home and her teacher and Dora represent the American world at school she experiences.

Lilia reflects as an adult on one segment of her ten year-old childhood in “When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine.” The author uses adult language to express the thoughts and feelings of a ten-year old Indian girl. Since this is a child’s recollection the tone and style are simple and devoid of philosophical meaning and symbolism. The candy is a prayer the child does not rinse away at bedtime but discards when unneeded.

Pirzada walks from the university to their house for dinner. Lilia’s mother serves dinner in the living room where they gather around the television to eat. Global events are viewed through the home as a focal point or prism. Lilia’s family and Pirzada watch civil strife occurring in Dacca, Pakistan on the evening news. Other events that occur in Lilia’s school and library are discussed by her father when he asks what she learns in school. Lilia’s parents offer their home as a cultural gathering spot for Indian and Pakistan nationals living near Boston as temporary expatriates.

At the beginning of the story, Lilia is portrayed just as an ordinary Indian American girl who is ignorant of political or international affairs. To her perspective, Mr. Pirzda was just a familiar guest who shares same custom and tradition. Living in a foreign nation, Lilia’s family also gives warm reception to the stranger just because he shares similar custom and tradition. However, Lilia’s parents later inform that Mr. Pirzda

Lilia’s character is not truly changed in some fundamental way through her encounter with Mr. Pirzada.

Political strife in his native East Pakistan keeps Mr. Pirzada in the dark about his family’s whereabouts. Mr. Pirzada finds a substitute daughter in Lilia, who indulges his gifts of candy and his concern for her on the American holiday Halloween.

Told from the view point of a ten year old child, Lilia, this story is based during a time of war in 1971 between India and Pakistan. Lilia moves to the United States with her parents who are from Calcutta. They move for a better life for Lilia and themselves. Lilia has no knowledge or interest in the world conflict until Mr. Pirzada begins to dine with her parents. Lilia gets used to Mr. Pirzada coming for dinner and she begins to refer to him as the Indian man. Lilia’s father quickly corrects her and tells her that Mr. Pirzada is now Muslim, not Indian. He asks her what she knows about what is going on in the world and Lilia has no idea. Lilia has a difficult time understanding because all she seems to learn in school is American History. Lilia’s father becomes very displeased that Lilia isn’t learning about what is going on in the world and he tires to describe to her what is going on and why. He explains to her that even though he and Mr. Pirzada speak the same language, have the same color skin, eat the same food, and are

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Mr. Pirzada, too, is just passing through. Like Mr. Sen, he is a professor teaching in the northeast United States. His hosts, Lilia’s parents, are his cultural center while his family is out of touch in Pakistan. Mr. Pirzada is more like Lilia’s father who really doesn’t want to adapt than he is like Mr. Sen whose wife resists changing times. Lilia’s parents are happy she is in the United States but not necessarily that they are. They want guests to share their homeland customs with.


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