Tag Archives: narayan

Never Clever Enough

“Swami went to his seat with a bleeding heart. He had never met a man so good as Samuel. The teacher was inspecting the home lessons, which usually produced (at least, according to Swami’s impression) scenes of great violence. Notebooks would be flung at faces, boys would be abused, caned, and made to stand up on benches. But today Samuel appeared to have developed more tolerance and gentleness. He pushed away the bad books, just touched people with the cane, never made anyone stand up for more than a few minutes. Swami’s turn came. He almost thanked God for the chance.”

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

Notes: Complete 360: polar opposite versions of the character [Samuel] leads the audience to fall for the trap like Swami does. “The chance” he should have taken was to behave well and not test Samuel’s limits. Swami’s naivety is apparent as he tries to be clever, which ultimately lands him in more trouble than at the start. It also makes me question whether he actually had a headache in the first place. He asked his mother rather than his father because he knew she would allow him to stay home. Swami is a character that attempts to have things his way, but is most times unsuccessful because he does not think rationally.

Out of Business

“For the next few days his head was free from family cares. He was intensely thinking of his answers: whether it should be tallow or follow…Week after week he invested a little money and sent down his solutions, and every week he awaited the results with a palpitating heart…He was too impatient to wait…” (167)

Notes: pacing, entire story told so succinctly & simply; a lot of little plot happens, nothing significant though, this adds to the fast-paced feel; language, spanning days & weeks, spending money, “awaited,” “impatient” suggests strange anticipated feeling quickening pace and waiting; strange mixture of hope/disappointment, disillusionment

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

Swami and Samuel

“Swami went to his seat with a bleeding heart. He had never met a man so good as Samuel.”

“He is very violent, especially with boys who come late. Some days ago a boy was made to stay on his knees for a whole period in the corner of the class because he came late, and that after getting six cuts from the cane and having his ears twisted. I wouldn’t like to go late to Samuel’s class.”

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

Notes: I was wondering if these stories that Swami tells about Samuel are fabrications to get him out of school. I think they are. Even when Samuel eventually canes Swami, he does it reluctantly, it seems like. 

 

 

Appearances in Malgudi Days

“His forehead was resplendent with sacred ash and vermilion, and his eyes sparkled with a sharp abnormal gleam which was really an outcome of a continual searching look for customers, but which his simple clients took to be a prophetic light and felt comforted. The power of his eyes was considerably enhanced by their position–placed as they were between the painted forehead and the dark whiskers which streamed down his cheeks; even a half-wit’s eyes would sparkle in such a setting. To crown the effect he wound a saffron-coloured turban around his head. This colour scheme never failed. People were attracted to him as bees are attracted to cosmos or dahlia stalks”  — An Astrologer’s Day, 1

Notes: abnormality as comforting?, misconceptions, appearances, attraction to the unknown, mysticism, artificiality.

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

“An Astrologer’s Day” and “The Doctor’s Word”

“…He knew no more of what was going to happen to others than he knew what was going to happen to himself next minute. He was as much a stranger to the stars as were his innocent customers. Yet he said things which  pleased and astonished everyone” (Narayan 2).

“He never believed that agreeable words ever saved lives. He did not think it was any of his business to provide unnecessary  dope when as a matter of course Nature would tell them the truth in a few hours. However, when he glimpsed the faintest sign of hope, he rolled up his sleeve and stepped into the arena…” (Narayan 17).

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

Notes: Both these stories, and many of the others, share similar character types and story themes. The first quote from “An Astrologer’s Day” and the second from “The Doctor’s Word” portray main characters who are very self-aware of their commonality; they know they are not all-knowing or perfect in their professions, but will put on an act of professionalism when rupees are involved. There is a theme of a higher power (the stars and Nature) that rules over everyone, and the main characters work as mediums for this higher power, but understand they are beneath it.

Oh the Irony…

“[Swami] asked the peon, ‘Where is the headmaster?’ ‘Why do you want him?’ ‘My father has sent a letter for him.’ ‘He has taken the afternoon off and won’t come back for a week. You can give the letter to the assistant headmaster. He will be here now.’ ‘Who is he?’ ‘Your  teacher, Samuel. He will be here in a second.’ Swaminathan fled from the place” (72).

Narayan, R. K. (1941). Malgudi days. (p. 72). New York, NY: Penguin Books.

Notes: The ending of this short story really peaked my interest because it was a surprise and ironic ending.  I was certainly not expecting for the assistant headmaster to be Samuel, and being surprised really can peak a reader’s interest. After this point, I expected to be surprised in the other readings and found myself trying to solve this puzzle of sorts before I finished reading each short story.

Out of Business

“His heart quailed as he opened the page announcing the prize-winners. Someone in Baluchistan, someone in Dacca, and someone in Ceyol had hit upon the right set of words; not Rama Rao. It took three hours for Rama Rao to recover from this shock. The only way to exist seemed to be to plunge into the next week’s puzzle; that would keep him buoyed up with hope for a few days more.”

Notes: I found this quote amusing yet slightly saddening at the same time. Rama places so much of his time and effort into the crossword puzzle in hopes of winning some money for his family. His reaction to finding out he is not a winner is almost comical.

 

Comedy

“This was a quieter outing. He strode on at an even pace, breathing deeply, with the clay helmet on, out of which peeped his gray hair, his arms locked behind, his fingers clutching the fateful letter, his face tilted towards the sky” (Narayan 32).

Notes- I think the character being so overpowered by fear is meant to be sort of funny to the reader.

Narayan, R.K. “Gateman’s Gift.” Malgudi Days. New York: Penguin Books, 2006. 26-33. Print.

Attila

“He hung his heavy tail down so loosely and looked so miserable that the burglar stroked his head, at which he revived. The burglar opened the gate and went out, and the dog followed him. Attila’s greatest ambition in life was to wander in the streets freely. Now things seemed to be shaping up ideally.

Attila liked his new friend so much that he wouldn’t leave him alone for a moment. He lay before Ranga when he sat down to eat, sat on the edge of the of his mat when he slept in his hut, waited patiently on the edge of the pond when Ranga went there now and then for a wash, slept on the roadside when Ranga was at work” (Narayan 100).

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

Notes: This passage is intriguing since the focal point is a dog. The dog Attila was constantly personified such as when he was described as having an ambition “to wander in the streets freely.” The author also utilizes free indirect discourse to place readers inside the dog’s head when the passage reads, “Now things seemed to be shaping up ideally.” One of the ironies within the short story was the dog’s purpose was  supposed to protect the house from intruders, and he not only allows the burglar in but gets attached to him.

Bleeding Hearts

Venkat Rao’s heart bled when he saw his child sleeping in her pink frock, hair combed, and face powdered, dressed and ready to be taken out .

R.K. Narayan, Malgudi Days (London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1947), 147. SAKAI.

Notes: It is strange that the author says that his “heart bled” because hearts naturally bleed. Does this intentional word choice emphasize the pathos of the moment? But the sincerity of the moment is subverted by the character’s indecisiveness.