Modality and Point of View in Presenting Cultural Displacement in Ahdaf Soueif’s "Sandpiper" and Jhumpa Lahiri’s "Mrs. Sen’s": A Comparative Stylistic Analysis

Document Type : Original Article


Department of Language and Translation, College of Language and Communication, Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport, Alexandria, Egypt.



This paper aims to analyze the modal choices employed by Ahdaf Soueif in her short story “Sandpiper” (1996) in contrast to those used by Jhumpa Lahiri in her short story “Mrs. Sen’s” (1999) to explore the concept of cultural displacement that both their heroines suffer from. The study employs Simpson’s (1993, 2005) modal framework to identify the writers’ attitude and point of view regarding alienation and cultural displacement. On the one hand, Soueif’s un-named narrator is culturally displaced from her western culture when she moves with her husband to his home-town Cairo in Egypt and feels alienated in this new Eastern culture. Lahiri’s Mrs. Sen, on the other hand, is displaced from her Indian culture after she moves with her husband to his new workplace in America, after which she experiences a sense of estrangement in this new Western culture. Different types of modality utilized by both authors to express their point of view and highlight the West’s sense of alienation from the East and the East’s estrangement with the West are compared and contrasted. The results show that both authors rely primarily on epistemic modality and negative narrative shading which contributes to the protagonists’ feelings of uncertainty, loss, alienation and confusion when displaced from their cultures.