Tag Archives: narayan

“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.

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.

Film as escapism

“Some lights went out and the show started–a Tamil film with all known gods in it. He soon lost himself in the politics and struggles of gods and goddesses; he sat rapt in the vision of a heavenly world which some film director had chosen to present. This felicity of forgetfulness lasted but half an hour. Soon the heroine of the story sat on a low branch of a tree in paradise and wouldn’t move out of the place. This portion tired Iswaran and now there returned all the old pains and gloom. ‘Oh, lady,’ Iswaran appealed, ‘don’t add to my troubles, please move on.'”

Narayan, R.K. Malgudi Days. New York: Penguin, 2006. 55.

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

 

Father’s Help

“As he felt the bulge of the letter in his pocket, he felt like an executioner. For a moment he was angry with his father and wondered why he should not fling into the gutter the letter of a man so unreasonable and stubborn.”

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

I found the father and the son’s relationship very interesting. Swami seems very obedient to his father, either out of fear or out of the discipline he has been taught. Even though Swami has the power to discard of the letter, he tries his very best (coming up with the tactic of doing something to justify the letter) to obey his father’s command to deliver the letter. His obedience to his father overrides the guilt that he feels inside of him his as he goes as far to ask the peon where the headmaster is. If the headmaster had not been on leave, Swami would probably have obeyed his father and given him the letter, despite his strong guilt against it.

(Not) Father’s Help

“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. There was nothing wrong in it, and Father would not know it anyway. If the letter was given at the end of the day there was a chance that Samuel might do something to justify the letter” (69)

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

This passage stood out because it shows the way that children want independence from their parents. Swami’s thoughts as he tries to decide what he was going to do shows what goes through the mind of a person who wants to do the right thing, but is unclear the way to go about it. Here, the reader wants to root for Swami and understand his reasoning, but by the end of ‘Father’s Help’ I wanted him to have listened to his Father and just given the note to the headmaster.

Trust me, I follow you.

“This was the first time he was going to do a piece of acting before a patient, simulate a feeling and conceal his judgement.” (25)

Narayan, R.K. “The Doctor’s Word.” Malgudi Days. New York: Penguin Classics, 2006. Print.

While I really enjoyed this great story that brings attention to the difficulties inherent in intermingling professional and personal relationships, I’ve found that overall, I think Narayan relies too heavily on exposition and telling, at times when subtlety might be more poignant. I was already gathering from the previous paragraphs that the doctor was hiding his true feelings, and the previous paragraphs do a good job of showing you why, without actually coming out and saying it. Unfortunately, this quote made me feel like Narayan doesn’t trust my ability to read and interpret.

Narayan and Language

“What a pity, Rama Rao! I am awfully sorry, there is nothing at present. If there is an opportunity I will certainly remember you” (92).

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

Much like Anand, Narayan uses expressions that would be said in native Indian language but is then translated into English. Unlike Anand, Narayan does not use non-English terms in the novel, allowing the novel to be more easily accessed by the world.