The Third and Final Continent

This study guide will help you analyze the short story “The Third and Final Continent” by Jhumpa Lahiri. You can also find a summary of the text, as well as inspiration for interpreting it and putting it into perspective.. 

Presentation of the text

Title: “The Third and Final Continent” (1999)
Author: Jhumpa Lahiri
Genre: Short story

Jhumpa Lahiri (b. 1967) is an American author famous for her novels and short stories. The short story “The Third and Final Continent” is part of a short-story collection titled Interpreter of Maladies, for which Lahiri won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction


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Similes and metaphors

The simile “hair (…) like a small sack on top of her head” (p. 3, l. 26) describes Mrs. Croft’s appearance and the narrator’s first impression of her, which does not seem too flattering. Similarly, the simile “long black skirt that spread like a stiff tent to the floor” (p. 3, ll. 29-30)hints at Mrs. Croft’s insistence on dressing in an old-fashioned way. Her aversion to shorter skirts is mentioned several more times in the text. 

The similes “chain that hung like a swing against her chest” (p. 9, ll. 7-8) and “upper arms sagged like the flesh of a roasted eggplant” (p. 9, l. 9) describe Helen, Mrs. Croft’s daughter. All these similes are used by the narrator and show how unfamiliar he is with his new country and the types of people living there.

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The Third and Final Continent

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