Themes and message

The ordinary and the extraordinary

The main theme of the short story “The Third and Final Continent” by Jhumpa Lahiri is the theme of the ordinary and the extraordinary. 

The narrator has moved from Asia to Europe and then to America, wanting to build a new life for himself his new family. He talks about his experiences in a straightforward manner, which makes them seem ordinary. Throughout the story, the narrator often suggests that his experiences are not uncommon, as many other Bengali men experience the same fate: “I lived (…) in a house occupied entirely by penniless Bengali bachelors like myself, at least a dozen and sometimes more, all struggling to educate and establish ourselves abroad” (p. 1, ll. 4-7).

The story’s ending reinforces the idea that the narrator’s experiences could be seen as a common occurrence to the world at large: “I know that my achievement is quite ordinary. I am not the only man to seek ...

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