How cultural differences influenced Dwight
Throughout “The Gateway to India,” differing beliefs, cultures, and environments are examined. What may prove to be simple cultural differences ultimately result in a drastic impact for the main character. Among the environmental distinctions are the locations throughout Mumbai. While walking through the streets lined with neon-lit strip joints, Dwight described how the sour air and surrounding poverty enveloped his mind. Comparing this to Shah’s and Winky’s apartments, we see the clear distinction of the two separate worlds of India. There’s the lavish lifestyle of the rich and the desperate, meager one of the poor. Dwight notices how “at Shah’s, India almost did not exist, except in the paintings and photographs” (151). Going from this luxurious home to “the stew and stinks and harsh voices” (151) of Indru’s room shows this distinction. Additionally, we see the juxtaposition between the eating habits of Shah and the rest of the upper class. With Shah focusing on the importance of everything living, he follows Jainism, respecting “all living things, great and small” (150). When in a restaurant on a business venture, the waiter offers him succulent, cooked choices, but he and Dwight opt for simple beans and rice, so as to make sure no living being was harmed in the process of making the food. Comparing the cultures of the United States and India also occurs. Before departing for business to America, Shah lived a simple life. Upon returning, however, he sported the latest in all accessories, including a Harvard tie, a Brooks Brothers suit and a new, fancy watch. Dwight’s relationships also changed in their nature. At home, Dwight had been married, and even after his divorce, had clung to his ex-wife. In India, after going through several girls needing money, and after finding out that the two girls he’d been supporting for months didn’t even know his name, he finally realized that they were merely using him. Additionally, one day at the beach, when he ran into the older woman whom he met on his first day out, Dwight was surrounded by young adults and was yelled at and almost attacked. What at first proved to make him feel new and alive ultimately made Dwight feel lost and in need. Shah takes him to the wilderness. The novella ends with him falling asleep gazing up at the night stars, finally on his way to recovery.