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.