There is an ongoing craze of becoming an American and it is gaining momentum in all parts of the world particularly the developing third world countries. In a country like Indian, for instance, citizens do make every effort to acquire the most coveted American citizenship. Nevertheless, there are lots of social problems and conflicting cultural values that come with the cultural budge from the old Indian cultures to the American cultures of the New World by the Indian Americans. Unlike the Indian culture that serves as a functional social fabric to hold the society, the American culture is highly precarious and is based on the whims of its people as portrayed by Jhumpa Lahiri in the Interpreter of Maladies.
The process of becoming American by the Indian immigrants is such a detrimental one considering that the adoption of the new American culture renders the much needed Indian culture obsolete. It is a common phenomenon that few Americanized Indians cease to be functional members of the rich Indian culture as illustrated in the Interpreter of Maladies. The family of Das is no exception. They proved to be strangers in their own ancestral Indian soil reason being that they were born and are now working in the United States. To the surprise of many, Mr. and Mrs. Das neither understand the Hindi language nor familiar with the land thus rely wholly on an interpreter, Mr. Karapasi to take and guide them around as do foreign tourists. These are the potential perils of becoming an American and an imminent loss of cultural identity is the dear price immigrants pay for this social mess which they could otherwise avoid.
Putting the lifestyle of the Das’ into sharp focus, the nitty gritty of immigrant Indian becoming an American manifests in every detail. For instance, Mr. and Mrs. Das neglect the greatest responsibility of parenting their two children as required of them by the Indian culture. Consequently, the two troublesome sons, Bobby and Ronny, are poorly parented and seem unruly because they are left to chance in sharp contrast to the Indian cultural values. In spite the fact that promiscuity is an abomination in context of Indian culture, Mrs. Das is seen to be taking much pride in her adulterous act. It is therefore perceptible that the adoption of the American cultures by the Indian immigrants constitutes a moral dissolution that will bring down the much cherished traditional values that holds constituent components and members of the Indian society.
Before reading this book, the ecstasy that emanated from presumption that America is a land full of opportunities and some more goodies, compounded with the euphoria of becoming an American, enticed me a great deal to renounce my Indian culture. Limited to the narrow scope of the aforementioned subjective thinking, I have been of the opinion that I can attain self-actualization only after becoming an American citizen as did friends and peers. This sort of a castle in the sky no longer holds for us.
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Based on Jhumpa Lahiri’s the Interpreter of Maladies, I am convicted beyond reasonable doubt that the American culture is highly irresolute and thus cannot firmly lay down standardized codes and values to regulate human behavior within the society because of its dwindling and curtailed nature. On this basis, it qualifies to be a moral depravity that acts against the moral framework of the rich Indian culture. In sharp contrast, the Indian culture to which I fully subscribed is superior to the American culture on the strength that it influences the lifestyles, behavior, and human interactions in the entire society for the common good of all.