Mr. Pirzada's Cultural Identity

Decent Essays
Throughout Lahiri’s narrative, a Bengali man named Mr. Pirzada comes to eat with Lillia and her family. As the story progresses, and Mr. Pirzada becomes especially significant to the little girl, and his presence allows Lillia to realize and understand her cultural identity as an Indian American. Pumpkins, leading up to and on the night of Halloween, are symbolic for cultural identity in this short story.

Upon an unspecified day in October, Mr. Pirzada notices pumpkins distributed throughout Lillia’s neighborhood. Asking Lillia about the alien vegetables, Mr. Pirzada has never seen them before. The next day, Lillia’s mother buys a ten-pound pumpkin. When she tells Lillia to decorate it with a marker, the girl refuses— Lillia wants to carve
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Pirzada agrees with the girl; “Asking no questions, he walked into the kitchen, opened a drawer, and returned, bearing a long serrated knife. He glanced at me for approval” (35). Instructing Mr. Pirzada on how to create a “proper” jack-o’-lantern, Lillia observes that he is able to carve well. During the creation process of the jack-o’-lantern, news concerning Dacca, Mr. Pirzada’s hometown and the dwelling of his family, appears on the television. Slipping from his hand, the knife makes a gash, ruining the otherwise perfect pumpkin. When Mr. Pirzada carves the jack-o’-lantern, it is as if he is simulating what it is like to be an average American, something which he is not, by creating a jack-o’-lantern, a quintessential part of American Halloween. When he is reminded of his true identity, of Dacca and of Bangladesh, his otherwise perfect pumpkin becomes blemished. This occurrence represents how one cannot deny their identity, that it is a part of them which affects the way in which they act and the feelings that they feel. For Lillia, a perfect jack-o’-lantern represents an average American, and when a non-American screws up the carving process, this shows that one cannot take up an identity which is not their
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