CHARACTER ANALYSIS OF MR. KAPASI IN “INTERPRETER OF MALADIES” Mr. Kapasi is the protagonist in “Interpreter of Maladies” by Jhumpa Lahiri. In this short story that is narrated in limited omniscient, Mr. Kapasi is the smart Indian man in his late forties that has lost romantic values in his marriage. Mr. Kapasi is detail oriented and posseses a lot of attributes such as: observance, hard working, modesty, dependability, intelligence and above all, he is very meticulous in his physical appearance.
He is educated, works two jobs where he uses his lingual abilities, and lives daily without affection from his wife. He is quick to point out the differences and similarities between tourists and himself. Mr. Kapasi begins to develop a romantic interest in Mrs. Das, and carry’s on a private conversation with her during the trip, a fantasy that he does not enjoy in his marriage and thus imagines a future correspondence with Mrs. Das, picturing both of them building a long distance relationship and a pen pal friendship. When Mr. Kapasi was driving Mr. and Mrs.
Das around town, he paid less attention to his driving but kept glancing through the rear view mirror and admiring the exotic beauty of his passenger. Mr. Kapasi who is self educated, was once fluent in French, Russian, Portuguese and Italian but spoke only English. In a series of notebooks, before his parents settled his marriage, he had listed the common etymologies of words, and at one point in his life he was confident that he could converse, if given the opportunity, in English, French, Russian, Portuguese, and Italian, not to mention Hindi, Bengali, Orissi, and Gujarati” (75).
He once dreamed of being a diplomat but now works as a translator in a doctor’s office, a job he acquired when his young son died from typhoid. Mr. Kapasi lived in a loveless, arranged marriage and no longer saw himself as a potential man of interest for women. He entertained fantasies about Mrs. Das but was later horrified by her confession of infidelity and self-absorption. Mr. Kapasi is capable of translating other people’s feelings and condition to the Doctor but could not translate his feelings to his wife.
His actual identity was revealed by “Das” family. Mr. Kapasi would rather hide his feeling under his fitted and tailored shirt, which is the “preferred uniform for giving tours because it did not get crushed during his long hours behind the wheel: (5). Mr. Kapasi was ultimately unable to bridge the cultural gap between him and Mrs. Das, which stems from their national differences and or personal ones such as his “romantic” (75) job. Mr. Kapasi ” romantic” interpreter job ended poorly with Mrs.
Das because he could not relate or translate her infidelity and self withdrawal that she had towards her husband. Mr. Kapasi is humble and modest, even when his passengers referred to his job as “a big responsibility” (75) but he felt it was a thankless occupation. He found nothing noble in interpreting people’s maladies. Despite all the good qualities that Mr. Kapasi possessed, he was also very insensitive and unreasonable, he was flattered that a stranger was intrigued by his job but did not do anything to convince his wife to see the value of his job.
He did not show any sensitivity to his wife’s objection to his working in the same place where they lost their baby. Mr. Kapasi is trustworthy and dependable because patience depends on him to translate their illness and maladies to the doctor and otherwise. His lingual capabilities and his determination to succeed….. help him shaped his life for the better. The doctor knows he could depend on him despite losing his baby in the same office. He does his job with prejudice. Conclusively, this fantasy reveals just how lonely Mr. Kapasi’s life and marriage have become.
His arranged marriage is struggling because his wife cannot recover from her grief over the loss of their young son or forgive him for working for the doctor who failed to save their son’s life. Despite the sad ending between Mr. Kapasi and Mrs. Das, Mr. Kapasi did his best to save the family from monkey’s attacks. He risk his own life for saving the boy that was under monkey’s attack, “Mr. Kapasi took his branch and shooed them away, hissing at the ones that remained, stomping his feet to scare them” (170). He channeled his attention on his job as a Tour guide and drove his passenger safely back to the parks.