Category Archives: Uncategorized

“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.

“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.

 

Attila

“It was all well that Attila had no powers of speech. Otherwise he would have burst into a lamentation which would have shattered the pedestal under his feet” (101).

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

Narayan seems to use Attila to criticize his owners: they immediately assume that Attila was acting on their behalf, when actually Attila was trying to ensure that his new friend would not desert him. In this particularly ironic passage, it seems that Narayan is trying to highlight Attila’s owners as self-involved and ignorant: they assume that Attila is acting for them and does not take into consideration Attila’s own desires (even if he is just a dog).

Attila as the hero?

The ending of the short story “Attila,” in R.K. Narayan’s collection Malgudi Days, does not seen to “fit” with the rest of the story. In the last scene, when the young man (original dog owner) sees Attila walking on the street with the thief, his and his family’s feelings for the dog instantly shift. Previously, the family was disappointed by and ashamed of their dog’s passive and friendly temperament. An individual even suggested that they should “change his name to Blind Worm” (99). The mother of the household remarked, “Please lock him up in a room at night, otherwise he may call in a burglar and show him round” (99). I am not sure if Narayan intended for this comment to be sarcastic, or was a literal suggestion, because the dog did in fact welcome the burglar when he licked Ranga’s hand. Later, on page 101, Attila marked the identity of the thief. The family was grateful for Attila: “Attila was the hero of the day. Even the lady of the house softened towards him. She said, ‘Whatever one might say of Attila, one has to admit that he is a very cunning detective. He is too deep for words’” (101). The lady’s praise of Attila surprised me because ultimately the dog did not fulfill the role he was intended for. Essentially, the burglar still intruded the family’s home and was successful in retrieving items of value. It was only by chance that the young man saw the dog on the street accompanied by the burglar. Although the family was thankful to regain their belongings, I expected them to be ashamed of Attila’s stupidity in taking to the burglar as his new trustee owner. I am also confused if the lady’s description of Attila as a “cunning detective” and being “too deep for words” is stated in a sarcastic or appreciative tone.

Narayan, R.K. “Attila.” Malgudi Days. New York: Penguin Classics, 2006. Print. pp 97-101.

Free Heart

“‘Death alone can help that dog,’ cried the ribbon-seller, looking after it with a sigh. ‘What can we do with a creature who returns to his doom with such a free heart?'”

 

Narayan, R.K. “The Blond Dog.” Malgudi Days. New York: Penguin Classics, 2006. Print. pp 39

 

I find this passage extremely interesting where the ribbon-seller wants the dog so badly to live freely just as the dog’s heart as. It reminds us that all people return to “their doom” or their death at the end and not everyone deserves to do so so early. Why do those who do so many great things and are so free suffer the most?

Not so helpful?

“As he felt the bulge of the letter in his pocket, he felt like an executioner”

“As he entered the school gate an idea occurred to him, a sort of solution. He wouldn’t deliver the letter to the headmaster immediately, but at the end of the day—to that extent he would disobey his father and exercise his independence”

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

I loved this because I can slightly relate to Swami’s struggle. After wishing his school to dust via earthquake and lying about a headache, he is forced to go to school and it is worse due to the letter from his father. Narayan provides vivid details of Swami’s inner struggle and thoughts with his lack of desire to go to school and his imaginative stories.

Class in Fellow Feeling

“Bah!’ exclaimed the newcomer. As if I didn’t know what these police were.”

This comment made by the newcomer shows a far separation between classes, through the Indian Caste system. The newcomer’s familiarity with the police suggests that he has been arrested before or is used to seeing them around. This shows a serious disparity faced by the poor where the newcomer is of the lower class and is portrayed as a brute who is uneducated, has a possible criminal background and hates the upper class.

Narayan, R.K. “Father’s Help.” Malgudi Days. New York: Penguin Classics, 2006. Print. p.43

 

The Truth Of The Doctor

“Next morning he was back at Lawley Extension at ten. From his car he made a dash for the sick bed. The patient was awake and looked very well. The assistant reported satisfactory pulse. The doctor put his tube to his heart, listened for a while and told the sick man’s wife, ‘Don’t look so unhappy, lady. Your husband will live to be ninety.’ When they were going back to the hospital, the assistant sitting beside him in the car asked, ‘Is he going to live, sir?'”

“‘I will bet on it. He will live to be ninety. He has turned the corner. How he has survived this attack will be a puzzle to me all my life,’ replied the doctor.”

N. K Narayan. The Doctor’s Word in Malgudi Days. Penguins Classic, 2006. 25

This passage was interesting because in the start of the story it was mentioned that the Doctor only spoke the “truth;” therefore, it made me wonder if the word of the Doctor is the truth. Whatever comes out of his mouth ends up being true even though he does not believe it himself. This makes me wonder if the Doctor has the power in allowing one to live or die. It felt weird that the Doctor was surprised himself that his friend ended up surviving when the Doctor was unsure of his own words. However, once the words that his friend would survive came out of his mouth, his friend spontaneously became better.