Explain the theme of “When Mr Pirzada Came to Dine” by Jumpa Lahiri.
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When Mr Pirzada Came to Dine by Jhumpa Lahiri is a short story that revolves around the theme of assimilation of Indians into America, their issues in adopting Western Culture and the difference of love and affinity for motherland between the first generation migrants and the second generation migrants.
Assimilation of Indians into American Culture
During the 1940s, freedom movement had spread all over the Erstwhile British Colonies including Asian Countries like India. Along with it were riots, mass murders, and the emergence of new countries.
During this era, a number of Asians fled away to Europe and America. Settling in a new country meant adopting a new culture, food, habits, language etc. Hence it was difficult for most of the people to adopt this new and drastic change.
The short story When Mr Pirzada Came to Dine reflects this theme. Lilia’s parents had migrated from India and Mr Pirzada belonged to Bangladesh. Lilia’s father wanted his daughter to learn about India, her history, geography etc while her mother didn’t like this. She desired her child to adopt the American Culture.
For Mr Pirzada, Lilia’s going out with friends was shocking as in Indian subcontinent it was not allowed. Similarly, Halloween is a festival in the USA which was quite new for Mr Pirzada. Thus the first generation migrants suffered a lot in adopting the new culture and also had a great affinity towards their country of origin.
Problems of 2nd Generation Migrants
The second generation migrants to which Lilia belonged have not experienced the riots, partition and other problems which the 1st generation had suffered. This is why Lilia cannot understand the pain of her father and that why he forces her to learn about India and its history.
Another important issue is that of the belief that has been reflected in this short story. Lilia does not seem to be believing in her parent’s Deity. Rather, when Mr Pirzada goes back to Bangladesh, she takes candies given by him every day into her mouth till morning and does the same until she comes to know that Mr Pirzada’s family is safe.
This is her belief which does not match to that of her parents.
Read the summary of When Mr Pirzada came to Dine here.