Traditions Versus Personal Values in Hell-Heaven, by Jhumpa Lahiri

864 Words 4 Pages
The average person wants one thing more than anything else, and that thing is to belong. Usha, a young girl from Calcutta, is no different. Already trying the find her place in the world, Usha must now assimilate into cultural society within the United States. Usha’s uncle, Pranab Kaku, came from Calcutta as well having first come to America, his experiences start off worse than Usha’s, which causes him to join the family in an act of social grouping. With the Old World trying to pull them back and the New World just out of reach, both must overcome tradition and develop their own personal values. Traditions control how one talks and interacts with others in one’s environment. In Bengali society, a strict code of …show more content…
Consider these following examples: “But my mother must have picked up on something, for she forbade me to attend the dances… [Aparna to Usha] ‘Don’t think you’ll get away with marrying an American’… She [Aparna] would fly into a rage when I told her I wanted to start wearing a bra, or if I wanted to go to Harvard Square with a friend” (Lahiri 646). After the wedding of her uncle, Usha began to develop her own values and rebelled against her mother’s reign: “As we drove home from the wedding I told my mother, for the first but not the last time in my life, that I hated her” (Lahiri 646). After entering middle school, Usha began to berate and ignore her mother’s request. She attended parties, drank, and performed sexual acts behind her parents’ backs. She would also taunt her mother about Pranab Kaku’s abandonment of the family. Later, she started to wear typical American attire provided to her by Deborah. However, after receiving heartbreak of her own, Usha rekindles her relationship with her mother when Aparna confesses her attempted suicide. Pranab Kaku faces disapproval from Aparna after he meets the American woman named Deborah, due to her jealousy, and her diligence to the Bengali ethnic code; however, she did not personally voice her concerns to him. The following are a few examples: “I asked my mother… if I ought to address her as Deborah Kakima… [Aparna to Usha] ‘What’s the point?’ my mother said… ‘In a few weeks, the fun will be over and she’ll

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