A Temporary Matter, Jhumpa Lahiri, couple, baby, Shoba, Shukumar, Unhappy in Marriage, grief management, Shukumar and Shoba
In the story "A Temporary Matter", by Jhumpa Lahiri, we are introduced to a married couple in the process of grieving over their still-born baby. As the couple tries to recover from this disappointment, their behaviors and attitudes change significantly. They stop associating with their friends, they stop following their usual organized routines, and they become alienated from each other. In the story, Shoba goes through a major transformation and stops caring for herself. While Shukumar is certain that she is behaving this way because she is struck with grief and cannot get back to her normal routine, the surprising ending of the story reveals to us that in reality, Shoba carefully calculates and plans for a life without Shukumar.
[...] This observation seems to be very applicable to the marriage between Shoba and Shukumar. Both partners are emotionally unstable, and instead of helping one another and trying to help their marriage, they just grow further and further apart as time goes on. Shukumar is under the impression that speaking to his wife in the dark for one hour a day will do enough to bring that fire back into their marriage, however he is thinking very irrationally and not really doing enough. [...]
[...] Throughout much of the story, we are under the impression that Shoba is a weak woman—unable to effectively deal with a crisis. We conclude that she is depressed and emotionally unstable, and that she has just given up on herself and her husband. Although the fact that she is grieving over the loss of her child is certain, Shoba is still very much capable of taking control and doing what she feels is the right thing. While Shukumar falls deeper and deeper into an abyss with no plan of action, Shoba plans ahead and takes what she believes is the best course of action. [...]
[...] It astonished him, her ability to think ahead” (Lahiri 6). As her condition worsened over the loss of their baby, Shukumar assumed that she was transforming and becoming more careless. He watched her as she changed her routine, stopped cooking, stop cleaning things the way she use to, and generally stopped living in the healthy, efficient, and organized manner. Since Shukumar was also grieving, he also became less concerned with the structure of his life, his appearance, and his ability to enjoy life lessened. [...]
[...] In the story, it appears that Shoba has a very self-destructive way of dealing with grief. Instead of healing her wounds and improving her life, she seems to be making things worse. In order to understand why, we must first analyze the reason why she is upset in the first place. Obviously, the agitator of all of this was the stillbirth of her child. Once this was over, however, Shoba did not try to improve the situation by being optimistic and eventually getting back to normal. [...]
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