This Blessed House by Jhumpa Lahiri
In This Blessed House by Jhumpa Lahiri we have the theme of curiosity, conflict, acceptance, love and connection. Taken from her Interpreter of Maladies collection the story is narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator and from the beginning of the story the reader realizes that Lahiri may be exploring the theme of curiosity. Twinkle has found some Christian icons in her and Sanjeev’s new home. She is curious as to whether she will find more, which she does. Much to Sanjeev’s annoyance. He knows that neither he nor Twinkle are Christian but that doesn’t stop Twinkle enjoying the idols. For her they represent luck and the house being blessed. If anything this suggests that there will be some sort of harmony in the house. Which there isn’t due to Sanjeev’s inability to accept Twinkle’s fascination with the idols she finds.
If anything the idols bring an enormous amount of conflict to Twinkle and Sanjeev’s marriage. They only know each other for four months. The marriage having been arranged by Sanjeev’s parents and Sanjeev is wondering as to whether Twinkle loves him. He knows he has told her that he loves her, she hasn’t told him, and he is uncertain about the future. A future that on paper looks very bright for Sanjeev. He is up for promotion in work and he has a beautiful wife and home. The only downside in his life is Twinkle’s obsession with finding more idols. If anything Sanjeev is embarrassed by Twinkle’s obsession and fears what others, particularly his work colleagues, will think. In reality and despite being embarrassed, Sanjeev conforms to Twinkle’s will when she starts crying about the Virgin Mary statue and Sanjeev wanting to throw it away. Though some critics might suggest that Twinkle is displaying signs of emotional blackmail it may instead be a case that Twinkle really believes that with the idols the house is blessed.
There may also be some symbolism in the story which might be important. The icons can be seen to represent connection and again Twinkle’s belief that the house is blessed. The house guests can be seen to represent curiosity. The high heels that Sanjeev does not like Twinkle wearing could represent masculinity and the fragility of Sanjeev’s ego. He does not like the fact that Twinkle is taller than him when she wears heels. The heavy bust of Christ which Twinkle and the guests find in the attic also serves to highlight just how much Sanjeev will conform. He knows that the bust will remain on the mantelpiece despite Twinkle’s promise that she will put it in her study the following morning.
The end of the story is interesting as Sanjeev, before conforming to Twinkle’s wishes, decides that he will lock Twinkle and the guests in the attic. This is important because it shows just how annoyed Sanjeev is with how the night is developing. He is happy that so many people have arrived but he wishes that Twinkle would stop talking about the idols she has found. Though by the end, and as mentioned, Sanjeev conforms to Twinkle’s wishes. Which might suggest that Sanjeev does not share control of his marriage. Something which may affect his already fragile ego. He is making accommodations to a woman he doesn’t really know that well and who has never told him she loves him. If anything the reader would expect Sanjeev to re-evaluate his relationship with Twinkle but he doesn’t he complies instead. Perhaps hoping that one day Twinkle will tell him that she loves him and he is not reliant on his love of classical music as an outlet.