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A Temporary Matter - Jhumpa Lahiri, 1998

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  1. Shukumar and Shoba
  2. Shukumar and Shoba's management of grief
  3. The end of the story

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. [...]

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