Another babysitter, another boy charge – this time the boy, Eliot, is American, and the caretaker, Mrs. Sen, is an Indian living in America with her husband. Mrs. Sen suffers the slings and arrows of living in a foreign country with quiet dignity.
The boy’s mother displays a not-so subtle distaste for anything Indian. She seems almost to be self-righteous about it. She wants the simplicity of the standard American servant/employer relationship. Mrs. Sen prevents this by offering the mother food, insisting she come into the apartment, and by letting the mother know that in India, “we have a driver.”
Eliot observed as Mrs. Sen “paced the apartment, staring at the plastic-covered lampshades as if noticing them for the first time.” She also listens to tapes of her family members speaking. I wondered, since Eliot betrays no feelings throughout the story, if he finds Mrs. Sen and her home life as sad as I do. Did you feel sad reading of Mrs. Sen’s daily routines?
I predicted that Mrs. Sen would have a car accident. Did you? Do you see a predictable plot twist as a flaw in a story? Should a story be unpredictable?
What does the fresh fish represent for Mrs. Sen? Her husband? Eliot? How did you feel when Mrs. Sen was reprimanded by the bus driver/ passenger because of the fish’s odor?
What impression will Mrs. Sen have on Eliot in the long term? Do you think he will remember the time he spent with her? Did it mean anything to him?