Themes and message

Identity and belonging

A major theme in “The Third and Final Continent” by Jhumpa Lahiri is that of identity and belonging. The short story describes the long process of settling in a foreign country and gradually adapting to a new identity

At first, the narrator is very influenced by his traditional, Indian heritage: He fulfils his duty to his family by nursing his mentally ill mother and accepts an arranged marriage. He also goes abroad to London to work hard at getting a good education. 

When the narrator eventually moves to America to start a good job, he settles in pretty quickly. He does still come across as an isolated individual outside of work, though. He lives like a student to save money to support his wife. He also constantly observes the Americans and their ways to adapt. In a sense, he is an outsider.

However, once the narrator and Mala start their life together in the US, they gradually a...

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