Jhumpa Lahiri tells a story of a female’s life in a new world in her short story “Hell-Heaven”. The author describes the experiences of a young Bengali woman who lives in the UK with her daughter and husband. The woman has to find her way in the patriarchal family with an insensitive man and a growing child who is gradually distancing herself from her mother (Roy 29). The story speaks to many females’ hearts due to its focus on their needs. Maslow developed his framework of people’s needs placing the need of being loved in the third place (Arianto and Ambalegin 41). Aparna, the main character of the story, can be seen as an illustration of the destructive consequences of the failure to meet this need. Arianto and Ambalegin stress that the woman, being unable to meet this need, is unable to progress to achieve the top of Maslow’s pyramid, self-actualization, which leads to psychological wellbeing (41). Aparna does not feel she is loved, which leads her to a close death experience.
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The Bengali woman is isolated in her household and confined to her chores with no support or meaningful care from her husband. Her husband barely talks to her seeing family conversations as a “chore” and paying little attention to her needs (Lahiri par. 8). The woman falls in love with a younger man, but never reveals her feelings to anyone but her grown-up daughter who has to suffer due to unmet needs. At that, the second-generation immigrant is in a more favorable position due to the ability to meet other needs and be more successful in becoming loved (Vandana 100). However, the story ends in a positive way as the woman manages to find reconciliation with herself and somehow become satisfied with the kind of love her husband can give.
Arianto, Tomi, and Ambalegin. “Suicide Experiments Due to Unmet Love Needs in Jhumpa Lahiri’s Hell-Heaven Story.” Jounal IdeBahasa, vol. 1, no. 1, 2019, pp. 41-50.
Lahiri, Jhumpa. “Hell-Heaven.” The New Yorker, 2004.
Roy, Dibyadyuti. “Illicit Motherhood: Recrafting Postcolonial Feminist Resistance in Edna O’Brien’s The Love Object and Jhumpa Lahiri’s Hell-Heaven.” Humanities, vol. 8, no. 1, 2019, pp. 29-45.
Vandana, K. T. “Perceptions on Generations in Expatriation: Reflections on Jhumpa Lahiri’s Short Fiction ‘Hell-Heaven’.” PESQUISA, vol. 3, no. 2, 2018, pp. 100-103.