Literary Analysis Essay on Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri

Published: 2021-08-11
995 words
4 pages
9 min to read
University of Richmond
Type of paper: 
Book review
This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

The plot of any story originates from characters and their motivations. The characters should have to want to do something and achieve certain outcomes otherwise there is no plot. The hub of all actions in any storytelling is the character motivation as it pulls all strings which drive actions. Such motivation yields other elements such as dialogue, character interactions, and tension or conflicts. Human motivations make characters needs feel real while also naturally adding depth to a story. A critical review of Jhumpa Lahiris Unaccustomed Earth showcases how far motivation can go as far as forging relationships and fulfillment of human needs are concerned. To narrow this down, of the five stories presented by Lahiri in this collection, Hema and Kaushik form the basis of this review as the story tracks the lives and development of the two characters from childhood to adulthood. The story of Hema and Kaushik form the second part of Lahiris collection and is divided into three parts: Once in a Lifetime, Years End, and Going Ashore. The dynamics of Hema and Kaushiks relationship can best be described by Abraham Maslows hierarchy of needs in his research on the components of human motivation (McLeod). Evident across all the three parts are motivations which act as the pulling as well as pushing factors which bring Hema and Kaushik together while other forces push them far apart. Consequently, Lahiris characters do not escape sadness and loneliness despite the pulling forces that seek to reignite intimate connection between them.

This paper intends to show, through Maslows theory of motivation, what motivates people to do certain things and specifically synthesize Hema and Kaushiks relationship. Once in a Lifetime is presented in a manner that naturally draws both families together. The sense of belonging has a family as a basic unit. Lahiri creatively pits Hemas family to host Kaushiks in a bid to fulfill one of Maslows needs of housing or security. This provision falls at the base of Maslows pyramid of needs (McLeod). The families of both characters share a cultural origin as well as the needs required to adapt to a new culture in America. This section forms the foundation on which the plot of the story is built as it is based on the childhood occurrences of both characters and the experiences which will help shape the perspectives of the latter sections. Hema develops a liking for Kaushik at the tender age of six, an important occurrence setting the pace of their friendship. The pushing factors in this section include the time when the two families had to separate when the Kaushiks moved to a newly bought house and cutting contacts with Hemas family. Hema would later recall how pissed her parents were when they felt they were snubbed by the Kaushiks even "after the weeks of forced intimacy"(Lahiri). Kaushiks mother suffered a serious illness which affected Kaushiks greatly as he had a special connection with his mother. Health matters constitute the physiological needs which when not optimal can lead to unsettledness. This explains why Kaushik was always disturbed and ultimately disclosed the matter to Hema to seek comfort.

In Years End, Lahiri uses Kaushiks point of view to present various saddening facets of his life. Vital issues manifest such as marriage, separation, death, and separation. These are huddles in the way of love and intimacy between Hema and Kaushik as the latter leaves home to lead a nomadic life after the death of his mother and the remarriage of his father. This acted as the major turning point in Kashiuks life and ultimately breaking their relationship with Hema as he abandoned her and lived the life of a wanderer. This decision interfered with the full potentiality with which the love and intimacy needs were to be achieved by both. Sadness and loneliness followed each as Hema met another man, Navin, while Kaushik followed a solitary life building his profession as a photojournalist. Hemas pursuit of education seems to have set her on the path of a professorship. The need to build ones profession is a motivation that falls in Maslows esteem needs while seeking love, as observed by Hema, describes her pursuit of happiness, love, and belonging.

"Going Ashore" is an epitome of the bittersweet experience in this story as Hema and Kaushik coincidentally meet in Italy. The irresistible intimate re-ignition of the past romantic fires becomes overly overwhelming as they seek to reconnect (Lahiri). In this section, Lahiri presents the best way in which a pull factor presented itself, and there was little to do to resist. This meet up was a very significant factor in their relationship as they revisited the old days reliving nostalgic moments they shared while they were young. Going Ashore winds up various achievements for each as Hema is a college professor while Kaushik is a world traveling and successful photojournalist. These achievements encompass Max-Neef human fundamental needs as well as Maslows self-actualization achievements which motivated their actions (McLeod). Even though Kashiuk suggests that Hema leaves Navin for him, he suffers a sudden demise from a great tsunami while on holiday Khao Lak.

In conclusion, it is sensible to say that human relationships are guided by uncertainties and various dynamics which tend to change destinies. There are both pull and push factors which attempt to alter the directions of relationships. Some of these factors are human needs and motivations that need to be fulfilled hence initiate actions which are expected to yield certain outcomes. These motivations include freedom, intimacy, dependence, and interdependence and they cut across all human beings albeit not in mutual exclusion. What seems universal in both Hema and Kaushik is the motivation to fulfill personal ambitions first. On the other hand, it seems odd that despite living in America, they do not consider interracial relationships with native Americans.

Works Cited

Lahiri, Jhumpa. Unaccustomed Earth. London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2014. Print

McLeod, Saul. "Maslow's Hierarchy Of Needs." Simply Psychology. N.p., 2017. Web. 17 Nov. 2017.



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