2010 Student Research Conference:
23rd Annual Student Research Conference

Multiculturalism, Identity, and Intimacy: The Construction of Home within "Part Two: Hema and Kaushik" of Jhumpa Lahiri's Unaccustomed Earth
Clare C. Echterling
Dr. Hena Ahmad, Faculty Mentor

In the collected stories that compose "Part Two: Hema and Kaushik," of Unaccustomed Earth, author Jhumpa Lahiri traces the identities and relationship of two Bengali-Americans. Hema and Kaushik's story begins in childhood, when they are thrust into intimacy by their parents' friendship. Upon returning to the United States after a tenure in India, Kaushik's family briefly lives with Hema's family. During this time, Hema and Kaushik negotiate traditional Bengali-American expectations with conflicting Western ideals while maintaining careful emotional distance from one another. This emotional distance follows them to adulthood, translating into solitude. Emotionally and physically separate from their families and each other, both characters struggle with cultural binaries, intimacy, and conceptions of home. Ultimately, upon their chance reunion, their shared history allows them to seek intimacy with the other. Utilizing Feminist, Post-Colonial, and Marxist theories, this paper explores Hema and Kaushik's negotiation of multicultural identity, home, and intimacy.

Keywords: Global Identity, Literature, Family, Identity, Concepts of Home, Multiculturism, Intimacy

Topic(s):English
Women's and Gender Studies

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 50-3
Location: VH 1232
Time: 1:45

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