Describing Miranda from “Sexy” by Jhumpa Lahiri and Connecting to Allegory of the Cave by Plato
Sexy is a short story by Jhumpa Lahiri that follows a recent college graduate called Miranda as she navigates a new relationship in a city that is full of strangers. The theme of cultural diversity is dominant in the book evidenced from the relationship between Miranda (an American) and Dev (an Indian). Miranda heard the word sexy first with Dev but the interpretation of the world is different between Dev and Robin. The short story can be connected to the philosophy of Plato explained in the book ″allegory of the cave″. People are imprisoned in relationships and affairs.
Sexy by Jhumpa Lahiri began with a conversation between Miranda and Dev when they met in a make- up container in a departmental store. The two engaged in a conversation about life and it is out of that conversation that Miranda first heard the word sexy. According to Miranda, Dev was the first man to show maturity to her. The aspect of conversation can be connected to the aspect of dialogue in the “Allegory of the Cave”. In the book, Socrates has a dialogue with his disciple Glaucon. Socrates imagines people living in an underground cave with an opening at the top and people are prisoners chained facing the wall so that they cannot move, “human beings lining in an underground den” (Plato 9). The aspect of prisoner connects with the theme of relationship in ‘Sexy’. At the opening of the book, though Miranda is listening to her co- worker, Laxmi her mind was chained to an encounter she had with Dev, “…..Miranda hadn’t been listening” (Lahiri 84). Therefore, connecting the relationship between Miranda and Dev and the chained prisoners by Plato, it can be argued that people live in a prison of relationship and they cannot move. As mentioned by Apap Christopher, the affair between Miranda who is a naïve young woman and Dev who is a worldly married Bengali man can be read as a symbol for two different processes (55). First, it is a parable for the creation of the current subjectivity with regards to the increased complex relations. Secondly, the symbol of sexy extends the modes of criticizing the story. Based on the book by Plato, the affair between Miranda and Dev is a symbol of imprisonment in an imaginary world (the cave). Miranda is imprisoned into the imaginary world of love because she was called sexy.
Despite that Dev has an affair with Miranda his marriage cannot allow him to spend a night out, “….because his wife called every day at six in the morning” (Lahiri 88). The aspect of marriage is a prison to the married people and regardless of how they try to free themselves from the prison they are unable. Dev’s wife calls him daily at 6 a.m. Eastern time. Dev too calls Miranda at the same time but she does not seem to care. Miranda thinks that Dev understands her because he “knows what it’s like to be lonely” (Lihari 89).
Miranda freed herself from the affair with Dev when she heard the word sexy from Robin and got its meaning. Though the meaning given by Robin was different from that of Dev, Miranda cancelled her meetings with Dev. This idea connects with Plato’s argument that when a prisoner is dragged to the light he pities those in the cave.
Apap, Christopher. “Jhumpa Lihari’s ‘sexy’ and ethical mapping of subjectivity”. MELUS, 41, 2(2016), 55-75
Lihari, Jhumpa. Interpreter of Maladies. Boston: Library of Congress
Plato. The allegory of the cave. New York: Sage, 2017. Print