A Temporary Matter Jhumpa Lahiri

Jhumpa Lahiri, a renowned author, and Pulitzer Prize winner, captivates readers with her exceptional storytelling abilities. One of her remarkable works is the short story “A Temporary Matter.”

In this article, we delve into the themes, characters, and narrative style of this intriguing piece. Let’s embark on a journey through the emotional complexities and thought-provoking aspects of “A Temporary Matter.”


A Temporary Matter: Exploring the Brilliant Short Story by Jhumpa Lahiri

The Plot: Unveiling Secrets

“A Temporary Matter” centers on a young Indian-American couple, Shoba and Shukumar, who experience a temporary power outage in their neighborhood.


This nightly hour of darkness becomes an opportunity for them to reconnect, as they share secrets that have been weighing on their relationship. The power outage serves as a metaphor for the emotional darkness that has enveloped their lives.

Exploring Themes in A Temporary Matter by Jhumpa Lahiri

Loss and Grief

Lahiri skillfully weaves the theme of loss and grief throughout the story. Shoba and Shukumar have suffered the devastating loss of their unborn child, and their grief has created a growing distance between them.


Lahiri poignantly portrays the ways in which loss can alter a relationship and the struggle to find solace amidst profound sadness.

Communication Breakdown

The temporary power outage becomes a catalyst for Shoba and Shukumar to communicate with each other in ways they haven’t in a long time.


It highlights the communication breakdown that has plagued their marriage and emphasizes the importance of open and honest dialogue in any relationship.

Identity and Cultural Clashes

Lahiri also touches upon the theme of identity and cultural clashes. Shoba and Shukumar’s differing cultural backgrounds and experiences contribute to the tensions in their relationship.

The story explores the complexities of maintaining cultural identity while navigating the challenges of a multicultural society.

Character Analysis: A Temporary Matter Jhumpa Lahiri


Shoba is depicted as a strong, independent woman who is trying to find her way through grief.

She is grappling with the loss of her child and the strain it has placed on her marriage.

Shoba’s character embodies the struggle to reconcile personal desires with societal expectations.

Shukumar: A Temporary Matter by Jhumpa Lahiri

Shukumar is a complex character who is also dealing with immense grief. He is portrayed as emotionally distant, grappling with his own guilt and the regret of not fully embracing his role as a supportive husband during Shoba’s pregnancy.

Through Shukumar, Lahiri highlights the complexities of masculinity and the challenges men face in expressing their emotions.

Narrative Style and Structure

Lahiri’s narrative style in “A Temporary Matter” is marked by its emotional depth and elegant simplicity.

She presents the story through a third-person limited perspective, primarily focusing on Shukumar’s thoughts and experiences.

The use of introspection allows readers to delve into the characters’ emotional landscapes, creating a profound connection with their inner struggles.

The story is structured into seven sections, each corresponding to a different evening during the power outage. This temporal structure emphasizes the gradual revelation of secrets and builds tension as the narrative unfolds.

Symbolism in “A Temporary Matter”

Lahiri masterfully employs symbolism to enhance the storytelling in “A Temporary Matter.” The temporary power outage represents the darkness that has consumed Shoba and Shukumar’s lives.

It symbolizes the need for them to confront their grief and rediscover the light within their relationship. Additionally, the gradual restoration of power signifies the potential for healing and renewal.

The Power of Foreshadowing

Throughout the story, Lahiri expertly uses foreshadowing to hint at the impending revelation of secrets and the ultimate fate of Shoba and Shukumar’s relationship.

These subtle clues build anticipation and add depth to the narrative, allowing readers to engage actively in the story.

Impact and Reception: A Temporary Matter Jhumpa Lahiri

Since its publication, “A Temporary Matter” has received critical acclaim for its poignant exploration of grief, identity, and communication.

It resonates with readers worldwide, offering profound insights into the complexities of relationships and the universal experience of loss.

The story’s emotional depth and Lahiri’s masterful storytelling have solidified its place as a remarkable piece of contemporary literature.


Jhumpa Lahiri’s “A Temporary Matter” is a powerful and emotionally charged short story that delves into the depths of human relationships.

Through her exploration of loss, communication breakdown, and cultural clashes, Lahiri crafts a narrative that resonates with readers on a profound level.

This story serves as a testament to Lahiri’s storytelling prowess and her ability to illuminate the complexities of the human experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is “A Temporary Matter” based on Jhumpa Lahiri’s personal experiences?

While Lahiri’s work often draws inspiration from her own cultural background, “A Temporary Matter” is a work of fiction.

How long is “A Temporary Matter”?

“A Temporary Matter” is a short story and can be read in one sitting. It spans approximately 20 pages in most editions.

What other works has Jhumpa Lahiri written?

Jhumpa Lahiri has authored several acclaimed works, including “Interpreter of Maladies,” “The Namesake,” and “Unaccustomed Earth.”

Does “A Temporary Matter” have a happy ending?

The ending of “A Temporary Matter” is open to interpretation and allows readers to reflect on the complexities of relationships and the power of personal growth.

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