Summary of Sexy by Jhumpa Lahiri.
Jhumpa Lahiri’s short story “Sexy” dabs into the lives and culture of Bengali people and their journey to America. Lahiri uses the story “Sexy” to portray that four locations in two hemispheres, an ocean and a continent apart, indicate the world that people with family backgrounds in India share when they become Americans. These people, like millions of other immigrants, feel an immediate disconnection from their old lives and cultures. In this short story, the protagonist Miranda consistently creates comparisons between herself and people of the Indian culture who she meets and builds relationships with while living in Boston. Miranda’s sexual relationship with Dev, friendship with Laxmi, and encounter with Rohin and his mother’s situation all motivate her to learn about the Indian culture and create morality in her life through experiences with them.
Miranda first meets Dev in a department store and falls for him instantly. While Americans are considered to be less family oriented in comparison to Indians, Dev proves this to be wrong when he allows himself to have an affair on his Indian wife with Miranda, an American girl. Dev was still a gentleman to Miranda, regardless of his infidelity, and was always the first to pay for things, and hold doors open, and reach across a table to kiss her hand. She becomes interested in his culture through their outings to Indian restaurants and his gestures to show her maps of where he was from and what he did there as a child. Dev compared his and Miranda’s loneliness and journeys from place to place and said he admired her for moving to Boston, where she knew no one, instead of remaining in Michigan, where she’d grown up. Although, in Dev’s case, this is not necessarily true because in the end he has his beautiful Indian wife and Miranda is left with no one.
As time goes by and Dev’s wife is soon to return, Miranda begins to realize that she is not of the Indian culture and is not the Indian mistress that Dev looks for in his wife. She had never seen the world like Dev had. The farthest Miranda had ever been was the Bahamas once when she was a child. Miranda began questioning Dev about his wife’s looks and comparing herself to the beautiful women that she saw on the cover of Indian videos.
Rohin’s father proves this to be untrue due to his affair and betrayal of his family. This fact leads us to wonder if coming to America had anything to do with his change of heart and moral belief towards family. We also see this betrayal through Dev, who seems to have the Indian woman of his dreams, however, he still has an affair on her because of his interest in American culture and women.
Many grown-up immigrants encounter the alienation from their close family and friends and automatically become an outsider to the people around them. This is shown through Laxmi in the story and her reliability on her husband because of the fact that they are both from India.
The immigrant children in today’s society, such as Rohin in the story, usually view their culture in a different sense because of the fact that they are being raised in the states and can adapt as they grow. “Home” for them is the house that they live in America; whereas Rohin’s mother still considers herself a Punjabi and his father a Bengali. Therefore in their situation, it is relevant that culture is brought up throughout the story because of the fact that Rohin is a child of immigrants,
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