Ocean flowing

He had left his village without any previous thought or plan. If he had continued there he would have carried on the work of his forefathers – namely, tilling the land, living, marrying and ripening in his cornfield and ancestral home. But that was not to be. He had to leave home without telling anyone, and he could not rest till he left it behind a couple hundred miles. To a villager it is a great deal, as if an ocean flowed between.

Narayan, R. K. Malgudi Days. New York: Penguin, 1984. Print.

This paragraph, although it may not seem it, gives a lot of cultural background to the story. It shows how his life was pretty much decided for him when he was born and that he no longer wanted these restraining forces on him. The biggest insight is the reference of how “it is a great deal as if ocean flowed between” them as if saying they are not only physically distant from each other they are also emotionally detached from each other as well.

“Forty-Five a Month” and Perspective

” ‘Has Father come home?’ Shanta asked. She would not take her coffee or tiffin but insisted on being dress first.” (86)

“He had no for time for the child. While children of her age in other houses had all the dolls, dress and outings that they wanted, this child was growing up all alone and like a barbarian more or less.” (87)

Narayan, R.K. “Forty-Five a Month.” Malgudi Days. New York: Penguin Classics, 2006. Print.

This story clearly illustrates the difference between child and adult. Shanta puts her father up on a pedestal just for offering to take her to the cinema. To her, her father is just perfect. However, once the perspective switches to the father’s, the real world stresses or work and difficulties at home are made clear. The reader feels the pity he has for his child, for not being able to give her dolls and pretty things. Narayan does well to show how different one thing can seem to a child and to an adult through the switched perspective.

Narayan

His conscience bothered him : he wasn’t at all sure if he had been accurate in his description of Samuel. He could not decide how much of what he had said was imagined and how much of it real. He stopped for a moment on the roadside to make up his mind about Samuel : he was not such a bad man after all. Personally he was much more genial than the rest; often he cracked a joke or two centring around Swami’s inactions, and Swami took it as a mark of Samuel’s personal regard for him

-Narayn Malgudi Days

Dialogue in “Malgudi Days”

‘Oh, you poor worm!’ Swami thought. ‘You don’t know what my father has done to you.’ He was more puzzled than ever about Samuel’s character.

‘All right, go to your seat. Have you still a headache?’

‘Slightly, sir’

 

I think the dialogue in this short story is interesting because the way it is written is clearly not how fluently English-speaking people would speak. It seems like the dialogue was in Hindi and translated into English but not adjusted grammatically to be formatted the way an English-speaking person would speak. It may seem a bit awkward to anyone who does not know any Indian languages.

Thematic Humor

“The compartment built to seat ‘8 passengers; 4 British Troops, or 6 Indian Troops’ now carried only nine.”

I laughed when I read this.  It’s humorous, and it also succinctly demonstrates an aspect of social inequality right in the opening paragraphs.  It really sets up a major theme of the story, which deals with different perceptions of societal inequality and bullying.

Narayan, R.K. “Fellow-Feeling.” Malgudi Days. New York: Penguin Classics, 2006. Print. p.40

Delayed Specification in Malgudi Days

“And one day, it was a bolt from the blue, the crash came.  A series of circumstances in the world of trade, commerce, banking and politics was responsible for it . . . The financier was driving downhill when his car flew off sideways and came to rest three hundred feet below the road.  It was thought that he had committed suicide because the previous night his wife eloped with his cashier.

Rama Rao suddenly found himself in the streets.”

Narayan, R.K. “Out of Business.” Malgudi Days. New York: Penguin Classics, 2006. Print.

 

We see delayed specification in the first sentence of this passage, and in the passage as a whole.  The narrative leaves Rama Rao long enough that the start of the next paragraph is confusing, and the reader has to go back to make sense of the sentence.

“Out of Business” and Language

“He felt disturbed for a moment; but he had only to turn his attention to speculate whether HOPE or DOPE or ROPE made most sense (for ‘Some people prefer this to despair’) and his mind was at once at rest” (94).

“If one had the misfortune to be born in the world, the best remedy was to end matters on a railway line or with a rope (‘Dope? Hope?’ his mind asked involuntarily)” (95).

“Wife, children… nothing seemed to matter.  The only important thing now was total extinction” (95).

Source:

Narayan, R. K. Malgudi Days. New York: Penguin, 1984. Print.

“Out of Business” chronicles the struggles of a man who loses his business and struggles to support his family financially after the loss.  Yet the short story also appears to be conscious of its own power as a text, demonstrating the influence that words often have in our lives.  This occurs both literally and metaphorically, as Rama Rao literally searches for words within the crossword puzzles, but they in turn affect his own thoughts and consciousness.  As he gets more and more desperate, he contemplates ending his life, reflecting on a puzzle clue that may have initially put the idea in his mind.  However, the delayed train is the ultimate “clue” or sign in the story of his life, urging him to keep living for his family.

 

A Father Investigates

“Swami help up the envelope and said, ‘I will give this to the headmaster as soon as he is back…’ Father snatched it from his hand, tore it up and thrust it into the wastepaper basket under his table. He muttered, ‘Don’t come to me for help even if Samuel throttles you. You deserve your Samuel.’” (72)

Narayan, R.K. “Father’s Help.” Malgudi Days. New York: Penguin Classics, 2006. Print.

The most interesting part about this passage is understanding what Swami truly deserves. When Swami speaks the truth towards Samuel, he receives no punishment. However, when Swami intentionally disobeys Samuel for the sake of getting rid of him, Swami receives strong a beating for it. In addition, his father probably knew that Swami was not stating the whole truth. Father might have suspected that because Swami arrived home with the letter, he was disobeying him. Given that, the only reason why Swami would even think of disobeying his father is if Samuel was not as bad as he was told, which the case was. As a result, Father gets rid of the letter to prevent Samuel from being punished without reason. So, in the end, no matter how Samuel is, Father perceives him as the best teacher for Swami.