A family is the main theme of ‘Hell-Heaven.’ Boudi’s mother, a widow named Boudi, becomes infatuated with Pranab, a guest in the household who has been welcomed as a friend by her family.
Pranab, on the other hand, becomes infatuated with Deborah. Pranab’s level of vulnerability is revealed when he falls in love with Deborah. The objective of this paper is to analyze the play’s characters, according to the narrator. The characters’ appearances, activities, language, and moral compasses will be examined in this paper.
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The tale is set in a remote region of India, and the main characters are the narrator, her mother, Pranab and Deborah. Pranab, a foreign student living in the United States encounters the narrator’s family with whom he has cultural roots. Her mother grows to love him as Pranab enters into their lives.
Parnab, a college student, spends much of his time at home. The Boudi’s conduct and attitude toward pleasing Parnab changed significantly. When Pranab falls in love with Deborah, his mother becomes jealous. She predicts a breakup because she is envious of him.
The two marry, and Parnab’s visits to the family come to a halt. Boudi, on the other hand, continues to harbor jealousy despite her later disavowal of the sentiments. The narrator, now a young woman, is active in parties, drugs, and sexual exploits (Lahiri 60-84).
The narrator, who is only ten years old at the start of the tale, can nevertheless characterize the personalities in terms of their appearances. For example, she describes her mother’s appearance during their initial encounter with Pranab.
Pranab’s father is described as a typical Bengali man. The narrator points out that her mother’s appearance should have identified her as a Bengali woman, not just as one who was already married, in response to Pranab’s question on their first encounter. Boudi’s expression is also seen as dissatisfied and unshakable. This is her typical expression before meeting Pranab. Every time she sees the unhappy look on her mother’s face after returning home from school (Lahiri, p 54).
As well, the narrator can describe Pranab’s natural looks. He is actually the tallest of the characters, being thin and tall. Pranab is described as a beautiful young man with a significantly “high forehead and a thick mustache.”
The narrator’s mother also describes Pranab as having big hips. His hands are always quivering owing to his smocking behavior. The narrator, on the other hand, provides no detailed description of her appearance. Boudi’s looks signify her connection to the past, while Pranab’s signifies the American youthful generation (Lahiri, p. 62).
The major characters’ actions are revealed through their connections in the narrative. The narrator’s mother is characterized by a lot of passive talk. She participates in her life at a distance, letting fate decide what happens.
Her marriage, on the other hand, is characterized as a foreordained destiny that she was raised to accept. She has a passive role in entering her marriage and does not have a major impact in guiding it. Boudi’s passivity is also evident in her interactions with Pranab.
While she is infatuated with the young man, she is unable to reconcile her feelings with Pranab in order to communicate them. She instead takes risks in order to please, attract, and retain the guy while hiding her emotions from herself.
Boudi’s passivity is also reflected in her marriage. While she is dissatisfied and knows that her husband isn’t dedicated, she can not take action or move forward with her life (Lahiri, 60-84). Pranab, on the other hand, takes a more active approach to his life. He, for example, follows the narrator and her mother and gets to know them. At the same time, he goes out of his way to join the narrator’s family.
He also has a large social media following. Furthermore, his active actions win him popularity. While the narrator is a young kid who submits to her parents, especially her mother, she is an opportunist who goes to parties as often as possible and engages in drugs (Lahiri, 60-84).
Boudi’s dialogue is frequently limited to implied behaviors, as she has difficulty speaking. She makes appealing suggested advances to express her sentiments regarding Pranab, for example. Instead of using speech, she uses gestures when attempting to remove her daughter from Pranab’s wedding.
Pranab, Deborah, and Asha are all public speakers. The characters’ talk is crucial in maintaining the tale’s tone of peace. Boudi’s failure to act creates tension in the narrative, but the other characters’ remarks tie everyone together (Lahiri, 60-84).
Boudi is a highly conscious individual who understands her emotions and surroundings. She is conversant with her feelings for Pranab, the fact that she will never be able to be with him, as well as her marriage’s bad shape. Since the narrator is aware of the other character’s mentality, he or she can also describe one’s consciousness.
Pranab and Debra, on the other hand, are not particularly perceptive because they generally lack complete knowledge of their surroundings. Their emotions are not explicitly declared (Lahiri, 60-84).
Jhumpa Lahiri’s “Hell-Heaven” is a fascinating short story to read. Usha is the daughter of immigrants who must conform to American culture in this brief tale. Usha believes she can complete the task without difficulty, but her mother Boudi does not believe so. Usha aspired to accomplish things that other American youngsters were doing, whereas her mother Boudi thought differently about them.
Usha’s mother wanted her to stick to the customs and only pursue activities that would be acceptable in Bangladesh. As she became older, Usha began making her own decisions rather than having them made for her by her mother, and she didn’t mind if her mother liked it or not.
This is where she fell in love with an American boy for the first time. She also appreciated how the other children in her classes were dressed, and she wanted to dress like them. So Usha told her mother Boudi that she wished to fit in at school with all of the other kids in her class. Her mother disagreed, arguing that because Bibi was tall and beautiful, she did not need any new clothes.
She stated that she was doing what her mother asked her not to do. She let the boys touch her. She said that she was following her mother’s instructions. That is contingent on the boys. My mother was afraid of this, and it became even more so when Usha departed college and was solely involved with her boyfriend. But things began to change when Usha graduated from school; she was simply with her beau ..
Usha was still doing what she wanted for a time. The boy she thought was “the one” turned out to be the polar opposite, and he was the sort of guy her mother had been trying to warn her about all along.
The clash of cultures between a Bengali family moving to the west and the society they are assimilated into is explored in Jhumpa Lahiri’s “Hell-Heaven.” The tale is told from the perspective of a youngster, as she grows up to become a young woman. Her mother, father, and a friend from her family are among them.
Each experiences and lives in America as an immigrant, which makes us wonder what message the author is attempting to convey with this piece of writing. However, Jhumpa Lahiri’s “Hell-Heaven” message is that immigrant families confront challenges and difficulties while living in a new environment and choosing one culture over another.
Usha is the main character. She was a youngster when she came to the United States, and her culture and way of life remained consistent with Bengali tradition and custom in Massachusetts. It’s revealed that Usha struggles to find a balance between the American culture she’s surrounded by and her family’s Bengali heritage as she matures into an adult.
Usha grew up in India, whereas Aparna grew up in the United States. Aparna’s experience with life in America was quite different from her daughter’s. Aparna was seen by Usha as a typical Bengali mother, who prepared meals, cleaned and looked after her family. She was a housewife chosen to marry someone she did not love and raise a kid as proof of the bargain.
Jhumpa Lahiri, an Indian-American author, was born in London in 1967 but immigrated to the United States two years later. Lahiri’s parents were first-generation Bengalis from Calcutta who relocated to Rhode Island and worked at the University of Rhode Island as a librarian. His mother was a primary school teacher, while his father worked as a library assistant.
Her life’s narrative is a reflection of what she writes in most of her works, which means that her tales are based on most if not all of her life experiences. The characters in the Hell-Heaven tale are as close to her family’s life as the story discusses a Bengali family. Her father went to school at the university in Berlin, where the narrator’s mother and dad relocated after moving from Calcutta.
After her father took a job as a researcher at Mass General, the family emigrated to America. The narrator, Usha, starts the narrative by describing Pranab Chakraborty, a young man from Calcutta who sailed to America in order to pursue his education. Pranab becomes a friend of the family and feels like he is part of the family. Usha’s mother develops a friendship for him; she wants to spend more time with him (Lahiri).
The author’s real life is more closely associated with the tale than any other. We get to meet Deborah, an additional character, and see the consequences of her presence on the narrator’s mother’s life. While attempting to figure out which one to choose, Lahiri focuses the narrative on immigrant difficulties and attempts to fit in amid the turmoil caused by cultural shock for the first generation of immigrants and a debate between them for a second generation while trying to decide which one to follow.
The first important study to be referred to in this paper is Dr. Anil S. Sugate’s Home, Hybridity, and Love: Diasporic Relocations in Jhumpa Lahiri’s Hell-Heaven, which explores the theme of hell-heaven migration through diaspora. Dr. Anil explains what hell and heaven mean in relation to the plot in a straightforward manner. The situation of the narrator’s mother is an example of an indicator he uses to describe hell.
They come to America for her husband, and she is thus stuck in a meaningless existence while awaiting the return of her daughter since she is jobless. Her spouse is also not a pleasant person, making their life even more dull and unpleasant. When they meet Pranab, they become pals.
Pranab becomes a part of the narrator’s family, and his mother is rejuvenated by spending time with him. Every day, she seems to look forward to spending time with Pranab. Dr. Anil also suggests that the people in the tale see heaven as their new home and America as hell since they must change their behavior to fit into their new environment (Sugate 1).
The first source this paper will draw from is Dr. Mr. Chandran and T. Senthamarai’s article “Female Diasporic Sensitivities in Jhumpa Lahiri’s Unaccustomed Earth.” The article examines the book as a whole, assessing its themes, with a particular emphasis on those concerned with the Hell-Heaven narrative. Dr. Chandran focuses on the characters’ diasporic alienation in this essay for our paper.
He focuses on the cultural shock the characters go through in the new country as they try to relate to a society that feels different. Pranab’s homesickness, for example, and his decision to give up his goals and return to Calcutta because life in America is not what he is used to at home are examples of this.
Similarly, the narrator’s mother, who does everything she can to preserve her culture by dress, refuses to lose her identity. This paper will examine the main characters and try to show that as much as they feel alienated from American society, it is due to their failure to embrace its customs at home that they are unable to readily adopt those of the country.
Usha is a second-generation immigrant from India who has no knowledge of her family’s homeland. The only information she has about her origins is what she has picked up from her mother. It is the American culture that Usha understands, as this is where she has grown up and what she knows. Because her mother forces customs on her that she doesn’t understand, Usha finds it hard to relate to her.
This is significant in that it shows how the protagonist’s perception of her situation has made her feel alienated. As Dr. Anil put it, her home with her parents is hell, and her heaven is when she is with Deborah, who she feels at ease with since she can freely communicate in English rather than Bengali at home (Sugate 6). Although Usha recalls life in Berlin fondly, she does not get overly emotional about it, thus being able to quickly adapt to the new culture of America.
Pranab is a person introduced to us by Usha at the start of the tale. Although he wasn’t a true uncle, Usha referred to him as Pranab Kaku, which meant uncle. Pranab’s first encounter with the family was when he followed them after realizing they were Bengali. Pranab is an illustration of Indian immigrants to America from the country’s first generation. Unlike Usha, who found it difficult to adapt to the strange environment at first, Pranab clung on to his Bengali culture until he could no longer endure the American environment.
When it comes to Pranab, the odds are a lot better than they could have been handled. The difficulty in dealing with Pranab may be seen when the narrator explains how difficult it was for him to go through those early months in America. One of them is that as a result of his life in America not being what he was used to at home in Calcutta, Pranab lost weight. Pranab never had to worry about doing anything for himself because he came from a wealthy family.
Usha considers Pranab’s change of heart after only one week to be inexplicable. He was resolved to leave America for good, but he changed his mind at the last moment. He was in hell, and he needed a haven that felt like home, so he moved back to Calcutta (Sugate 3-4).
He was looking for anything that might bring him back to his homeland, but he couldn’t discover it. It is until he meets the Usha and her mother that he begins to believe that America may be friendly after all. The devotion with which he pursues the two in order to find out if they are Bengali is a clear signal that he’s searching desperately for a link with his heritage and roots.
Pranab, who is later in the tale, becomes attached to Usha’s mother to quench his cultural shock. Because they both originated from Calcutta and were interested in food, music, poetry, and politics, the two have a lot in common. Even though he was still in America, it was an aspect of life that he could have avoided if he had been more open to the American culture and willing to change his ways.
If he was, he couldn’t have been in such a hurry to spend time with Usha’s mother to make him feel welcome. Pranab might have spent more time seeing the United States and learning about how it functions and how to adjust.
Pranab’s time with Usha’s mother became more valuable to him, and he grew more at ease in America, reflected by his purchase of a vehicle. The act demonstrated that Pranab was ready to depart and adjust to the American lifestyle after feeling the comfort of being at home with little that the family could provide (Sugate 5).
Pranab began taking Usha and her mother on tours in his new automobile, which showed he was ready to let go of the barriers that had arisen and those that kept him from traveling about the globe. It was possible due to the fact that he had lowered all of his restrictions.
Pranab fell in love with Deborah, an American woman who had no ties to the Bengalis. The relationship became serious, and they even got engaged, which brought up cultural concerns. Pranab was married for him at home, where he was expected to return after his education and marry as the Bengali marriage traditions demand.
Pranab, on the other hand, rebelled and married Deborah without his parents’ consent. The disobedience was a sign that he had fully adapted to American life, as Usha did at one point in her life when she went against her mother’s wishes and attended parties with friends despite their disapproval. Pranab obtained a degree of pleasure for only a brief period as he realized that 23 years later, because he wanted to have an affair with a married woman from his background.
Usha’s mother is a traditional lady who, from the start of the narrative, is as eager to preserve her culture as possible in an alien land. She wears clothes that are typical for a Bengali woman and cooks Bengali specialities like prasad (Dr. M.R. Chandran and Senthamarai 546).
Usha’s mother, like Pranab, finds comfort in being with him and has a genuine bond with home that she never felt with her husband because their marriage was arranged. Usha’s mother even looks forward to the arrival of Pranab, preparing herself physically and mentally for what to cook for the following week.
But, she regains her spark when Pranab begins to date Deborah. It isn’t until she lets go of some of her conventions and adjusts to her environment that she finds genuine joy at the conclusion of the tale, when she even reconnects with her spouse.