In the short story, “The Third and Final Continent,” Lahiri shows how a sense of acceptance is crucial to assimilate into a new surrounding. For instance, when Mala moves to America, her husband starts to do things that he “had not yet done in America” (Lahiri 192). Even though Mala was the only thing that he “was not used to,” he still understands that it’s his duty to “welcome her and protect her” (Lahiri 190). This understanding helps both of the characters to fit into the new world. Unlike Twinkle and Sanjeev, they are able to make an understandable relationship because of the ways they communicate with each other.
Therefore, if two individuals don’t try to understand each other, then they end up becoming strangers, in spite of living under the same roof. Furthermore, by mentioning how the narrator and his wife practice Indian customs like eating with hands, Lahiri highlights the importance of holding onto our own cultures because if we don’t do so, we might lose our own identity. At the end of the story, the narrator appreciates his own achievements, which are “quite ordinary” but “beyond imagination” (Lahiri 198). I think the title of this story also reflects the narrator’s self satisfaction because not only he had traveled to three different continents, but also he was able to stand still after facing three different cultural clashes. Unlike Mr. Sen, he is able to make a strong bond with his wife, which helps both of them to withstand all the changes.
In addition, Helen’s character emphasizes the idea that cultural difference does not only exist between different countries, but also between different time periods. For instance, Mrs. Croft doesn’t like the way Helen dresses, which implies that she’s holding onto the old traditions.
However, it’s ironic how she finds Mala as a “perfect lady” (Lahiri 195). So, I believe that cultural difference doesn’t only have to be a result of colliding different countries customs. It actually develops based on how a person perceives the world.