Sample Essay on Discussion Questions on the ‘Lost in Translation’ and ‘the Global Soul’


‘The Global Soul’ is a 2001 collection of essays by Pico Iyer, categorized under the traveler’s books. This is a modern story about two moments that appear at the same period. The story reflects the major changes that have happened in the present century. Iyer reviews various cultural practices from different places. This is attributed to his multicultural fosterage. He has an Indian, an Englishman and an American background. This makes him reveal the world’s fusions and confusions. ‘Lost in Translation is a 2003 movie written and produced by Coppola Sofia in United States. It is based on a love story that seems to be magical. However, at the end, the audience confirms that this is indeed a true story.


From these readings, the unhappiest people are the ones that are ever in motion. These people are encouraged to look for an ideally perfect state out of their inner being.

The Global Soul

A global soul refers to an uprooted person that cannot entirely embrace a single nationality. A person who goes through life issues as a tourist. This category is very essential. It reflects the continuously globalized world and its complications to the personal life of the author. This kind of life is a reflection of many other lives in this present age. The essays give continuous life challenges of the author in this globalized period. The essay begins with a burned house in California, and then moves to living in an airport before ending at an alien home in Japan. These are categorically stated to emphasize the existence of two things at the same time. The old and the new are merged together. Through this introduction, the writer opens the eye of the reader to the borderless world. This introduction reveals the process of the author’s detachment. His revelation of the life in Japan reveals his touchdown.

The international airport in Los Angeles is defined as the globalized convenience place. In this place, people are said to feel open, vulnerable, and uneasy. Hong Kong is defined as the place without passion; a transit lounge.  Toronto is described as a multicultural urban residence, which has remained to be civil, peaceful, and exciting. Through globalization, the world has been made to look smaller. There is little understanding of a place defined as home. Home in his eyes, is a place where one can find peace (Ire, 2001). According to him, Japan is nearer home. This is because he finds beauty and peace in the rural parts of Japan. Places that are not familiar and strange give pleasure to the writer and to many others who have adopted his kind of life.

According to Ire, postmodernism is the period that comes after the modern era. This is the time where the world is made to feel small mainly because of a touch of a button. It is also the period when few people come from a place known as home. This is the time when home has little meaning other than a place of rest. Post modernism is the time when people are moving from place to place and are tourist to every town and culture. In this period, people live by the principles that had been established during the modernism era, the time when national and cultural boundaries are dissolved. This results into a new form of global unity, which is paradoxically parallel to personal inner sense of fragmentation. This is because the era has erased the definition of a home, cultural identity and hence personal future prospects. There are so many changes that a man is expected to quickly adapt to without any strain. Paradoxically, so many people are quickly embracing this phenomenon without reviewing its consequences. The airport is described as a place filled with multiculturalism; Hong Kong is an ultramodern city with traditions. This reveals the writer’s outlook towards modernity. He is a keen observer who is set apart by holding dear to his former ways. He confesses to have never used a computer (Iyer, 2001). All these essays, he further confesses have been written in a child’s pencil and on a child’s desk.

Lost in Translation

This film describes Americans in a pathetic and self-pitying manner. This is depicted through the spoilt, rich, and unsympathetic American characters. This is depicted by their lives as American tourists in Japan. They are mostly busy with themselves that they rarely get time to know the beautiful nature of the Japanese. The story embraces stereotypes. Charlotte is a character that personifies Japan, the neglected yet sympathetic nation. If the lives displayed by the characters would be true, then all the retreats into Americanism would be disappointing.    As the two characters meet, they share about their happiness, marriage, and feelings before finally hitting it off. Murray is a middle-aged married man. His is going through a happy bitter life. His marriage is in shambles. This is because his wife is so bothersome. His love for his children makes him stick to the marriage. Murray does commercials for a living, which makes him hate himself. Charlotte is a young woman in her twenties. She has been married to a rich fifty-year-old photographer.  The couple is not in good terms and Charlotte wonders loudly why she ever got married to the man. As Murray and Charlotte meet, their lives are freshened. They enjoy each other’s company without worries. Through these two actors, the theme of romance and comedy come to play. They get into each other’s company but eventually do not solve their problems.

The structure of the movie is flowing. It is based on drama that has some aspects of comedy and romance. There are repeating patterns in the movie. Since Murray is engaged in commercials, he is a public figure. Everywhere he goes; Japanese women with white gloves follow him on their hands.  These actions irritate him. However, all through he keeps his posture and character. He is the funny character who can pull funny strings on his boss, make funny actions wherever. Nevertheless, because of the tiresome marriage, he remains sad in most parts of the movie (Coppola, 2003). After Bob had met with Charlotte, they are also instances of repeated patterns. This is seen when they talk in short sentences rather than complete sentences. This makes their conversation difficult to follow. All through their romantic actions, they are alone without the appearance of their spouses.

Harris and Charlotte’s relationship is a marriage facing diverse problems. Charlotte married the man knowing that she could get the best ever romance from him. However, this old man soon got tired of her and left her in the hotel room on the pretext of lacking nothing to do while he took photos. This, he adds could have made her much more bored (2003). She wonders aloud to whom she ever got married. She was dissatisfied in her marriage and rarely saw her husband.

This relationship would not be alive in New York. This is because the story is woven around lies. In New York, Charlotte seemed to be alive and  real with real life experiences, better things to do and other people to enjoy her company with. This would be far different from being a mistress of a rich old man whose love is passive. Any rich old fellow would not go for photography as a job in a foreign country and live behind his love in a posh hotel room. The love and intimacy Charlotte comes to share with Murray would be publicized soon after they get together. This is due to the public life that Murray lives, which could not have spared his private life.

‘Lost in Translation’ is a love story. This is because of the theme of romance that is highly exposed through its various characters. Other themes are brought to light in instances of love. For instance, the issue of pan-cultural is exposed when Murray is walking along the corridors with Charlotte. This is during one of their various romantic escapades. The theme of post-modernism is brought to light through the perception of love. At the end, Murray is seen whispering something into the ears of Charlotte. The function of this unintelligible whispering is a confirmation of how intimate their lives had become. They had stopped living a life of lies to a life of reality. This reality has made them to be true to each other to the point of living without the reader’s understanding. This is a form of suspense to the audience. The reader is not allowed to hear these words. The action depicts the move from the unrealistic life to real life. This move is a revelation to the audience that real transformation is taking place. Through this action, the audience is made to believe the message of the writer. The audience also comes to the realization that life in the postmodern era is different from that modern period. This form of infidelity is common in the present age. This is because of the change of human perception towards the institution of marriage where the couples worked towards its success. This nature brings to light the self-centeredness of the human beings in this present age. The husband cares little about the wife and works for his personal satisfaction. If this kind of infidelity were exposed to the spouses, it would result to diverse reactions. Murray’s wife is so much concerned over the husband. This would be very heartbreaking to her. This is because, other than her unsatisfied quests in the marriage, the husband has failed to love her. On the other hand, when Harris will realize this, he would be relieved. This is because he saw Charlotte as a distraction to his quests. Harris has been unfaithful to Charlotte. Hence, this would still be a fair arrangement for the couple.

Iyre in ‘Global Soul’ brings the discussions of fidelity to light. Through his emphasize on the effects of post-modernism, Iyre mentions the loss of cultural values. This comprises the issue of fidelity in marriage. A tourist has nothing to hold. He is in the run looking for personal satisfaction and gratification. This has eroded cultural elements like fidelity, which has been replaced by self-centeredness.

From the film, the experiences of pan-cultural are strongly featuring. Because of the Japanese differing culture from the Americans, the women who were ever following them irritated them. This is because of their appreciative culture. Iyre revealed Pan-cultural experiences in the novel. When the author went to rural Japan, he lived with a Japanese woman. Since both of them were not well conversant with English, they decided to speak a language nearer English-pidgin. His demeanor used to surprise his neighbors for more than four years (Iyre, 2001). The neighbors differently perceived him all along. All through the novel, the writer is stating the different perceptions people had on him. This resulted to diverse treatment he received from those he met.

Magic realism refers to the unreal things playing a natural section in a posture and character. This is a powerful explanatory device in the ‘Global soul’. All through the film, the audience is made to believe that the movie is based on magic realism. However, at the end, the audience is awaked to the reality that the characters are actually moving on with their own lives. Murray decides to whisper something to the ear of Charlotte. The audience is left in suspense. However, this comes strongly, that the movie is in fact a reflection of the present society.


People who cannot directly point their roots are hardly at peace with themselves. They live from town to town, without an inheritance or a culture to define them. From Iyre (2001), they are the rootless, fruitless and the restless creatures without a place to refer to as a home. However, little solution can be accorded to these people. This is because they are the victims of post modernism. This insatiable quest is revealed by Coppola through the lives of the two couples. Times and perceptions have changed.


Coppola, Sofia. Lost in Translation (2003). Cineaste: Drama/ Romance. New York: Cineaste.

Iyer, Pico (2001) The Global Soul. US: Vintage