A Critique of Immigrant Psyche: A Study of the Selected Works of Bharati Mukherjee and Jhumpa Lahiri

Krishna Rao, A. Rama; Kasyap, R. V. Jayanth
March 2008
ICFAI Journal of English Studies;Mar2008, Vol. 3 Issue 1, p25
Academic Journal
Literary Criticism
Writers of the Indian Diaspora, who were earlier called the expatriate writers, have carved for themselves a special niche in the arena of literature. Tapping their varied experiences and rich exposure to advantage, these writers wrote with a broad vision and perspective. In the modern world of flux, uncertainty and confusion, and constant erosion of identities, they explored major issues like cultural conflicts, immigrants' alienation, pysche and changing social values. Most of the writers endeavored to define the experience of migrancy. They made a substantial contribution to the expatriate sensibility, which is considered to be a phenomenon in commonwealth literature. Among the prominent writers who were sensitive to the subtleties of the lives of immigrants are Bharati Mukherjee and Jhumpa Lahiri. Bharati Mukherjee gained considerable distinction as a novelist and short story writer. She has authored six novels, two short story collections and a few works of non-fiction. Jhumpa Lahiri received great acclaim with the publication of her short story collection, Interpreter of Maladies. She published her first novel The Namesake in 2003.This paper focuses on the role of psyche in the life of an immigrant. It attempts to diagnose the illness caused by frustrated psyches and tries to examine certain possible remedies. The basic problem that plays havoc with the psyche is the individual's inability to adjust. Mukherjee and Lahiri identify cross-cultural exposure as a further source of the predicament of the immigrants. An individual's potential to strike a balance would address this problem. All these factors ultimately launch an individual on a search for self. The paper looks at the creative configurations in which both the writers seek identity. Both present through their fictional works existential zeitgeist. Interestingly, they acknowledge that it is painful for an immigrant to put down his/her psychic roots, which establish one's identity. Herein lies the strength of mature art.


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