Interpreter of Maladies: The Plot of the Story

Interpreter of Maladies is included in the collection of short stories of the same name. The plot of the story is built around the trip of the couple Das and their children – Indian immigrants of the second and third generation, who grew up in America – to the Sun Temple in India. During their journey, they meet Mr. Kapasi, who agreed to escort them to the local shrine (Lahiri, 1999). Mr. Kapasi is an interpreter and wished to work among diplomats. However, he is forced to leave his career ambitions, and earn a living as a driver-guide and doctor assistant, translating the complaints of patients from Gujarati into Hindi.

One of the literary elements used to develop the story is the plot, which will be further analyzed using the story arc. The actions mainly include two main characters – the protagonist Mr. Kapasi and the antagonist Mrs. Das. They perform as round characters promoting the story’s plot, the rest of the heroes – Mrs. Das’s husband and children represent more flat characters. Moreover, the characters also act as an important literary element that develops the theme of the story. The woman embodies almost all the negative qualities and stereotypes of a housewife from the suburbs. Her appearance concerns her more than her children; she has lost contact with her ancestors’ culture and is not interested in anything but her personality.

Her opposite is Mr. Kapasi, a romantic, dreamy, and kind person who is passionate about his native country’s culture. So the setting is also an important literary element for the development of the plot. Thanks to it, readers see the contrast between the heroes. Mr. Kapasi is an interpreter of maladies, working with the doctor and helping him understand patients’ problems. When Mrs. Das unexpectedly appreciates the work of their guide as an assistant doctor, he has romantic dreams about her. In his imagination, they will continue to communicate through personal letters. To spend a little longer time together, the guide offers to visit another tourist site. Having reached their destination, the heroes gradually move to the climax of the story.The main characters remain alone in the car, as Mrs. Das’s legs are tired, and she asked Mr. Kapasi to stay with her. Suddenly, the woman decided to share her terrible secret with the guide with the hope that he would help interpret her feelings. The protagonist finds out that Mrs. Das was unfaithful to her husband and one of the children – Bobby is not his son. Moreover, the woman makes it clear that she sees Mr. Kapasi more as a parent for herself, rather than a romantic interest.

The hero is stressed, disappointed, and surprised that Mrs. Das decided to share her secrets with him. He supposes that her feelings represent guilt, not mental pain or depression. The woman is disappointed, as she expected to hear something soothing and not negatively revealing her. Here readers also see the central conflict of the story – two married people are unhappy and seek understanding from an outsider. The conflict ends when they do not find the necessary support from each other.

Readers see falling action when Mrs. Das leaves the car, but in her bag are treats attracting monkeys. As a result, when she reaches her family, they attack her son Bobby, and Mr. Kapasi saves the child. The story’s resolution occurs when, after the accident with monkeys, Mrs. Das takes something out of the bag to clean up her son. At this moment, a paper with Mr. Kapasi’s mailing address falls out unnoticeably for the woman. The interpreter watches the commotion in the Das family and realizes that he will remember them just like that.


Lahiri, J. (1999). Interpreter of Maladies. Web.

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