The Guide ..R.K Narayan It is unusual among Indian authors writing in English in that he has stayed contentedly in his home country, venturing abroad only rarely. He rarely addresses political issues or tries to explore the cutting edge of fiction. He is a traditional teller of tales, a creator of realist fiction which is often gentle, humorous, and warm rather than hard-hitting or profound. Almost all of his writings are set in the fictional city of Malgudi, and are narrowly focused on the lives of relatively humble individuals, neither extremely poor nor very rich.The Guideis one of his most interesting books, which begins as a comic look at the life of a rogue, but evolves into something quite different. It should be noted that Narayan is not a devout Hindu, and has accused Westerners of wrongly supposing that all Indians are deeply spiritual beings; but it is also true that he was deeply impressed by some experiences he had with a medium after the sudden death of his young wife (described movingly in The English Teacher (1945).Narayan has stated that the incident of the reluctant holy man was based on a real event which he read about in the newspaper.
The Treatment of Love, Sex and Marriage – The Guide: R.K.Narayan The Guide is the hellacious and well-known novel of R.K.Narayan which brought a world-wide and ecumenical popularity and complete recognition for him.
The novel established him as the greatest Indian novelist in English. The Guide was published in 1958 and won the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1960. The Guide has also been filmed in Hindi in 1960 and it got full admiration of the people, especially for its lilting music. Being a researcher of eroticism, romantic aesthetics and sexual politics, I have zoomed in the treatment of marriage, sex and love by R.K.Narayana in the novel The Guide. Here, I could pinpoint five hefty points; 1) Adultery – A Pattern of love 2) Love and Society 3) A radical view of marriage 4) Realistic treatment of Love, sex and marriage 5) Contemporary and also the traditional. Adultery – A Pattern of love Love and sex form a significant part in the story and the theme of the novel, The Guide. In the beginning it is Rosie‘s aura that captures the attention of Raju and of the readers and continues for a pretty long time until the love between Rosie and Raju disintegrates due to Raju‘s over
commercialization. The design of love is formed between the wife of another man and the stranger in the form of the railway guide. Rosie is spiritually mature like Maya. She is the daughter of a Devadasi but she is glamour embodied. She represents the west and through her the novelist has tried to show how unfit she is for the east. With all her liberalism and independent mind, she is nowhere. She is neither a pure artist nor a pure woman nor an ideal wife. Just like Raju, she too is commercialized and forgets that the real art lies in the concealments and silent worship and not in commercialization and publicity. She is a girl of modern stuff. Society and Love love in the novel has been presented from the point of view of Indian society. There is no ruthless presentation of sex in the novel. The treatment of sex in the novel is quite different from the treatment of D.H. Lawrence and Somerset Maugham. What happens between Raju and Rosie inside the room is hinted. The act of sex is not described. This is the beauty of R.K. Narayan. The emotions are overridden by the external facts of life. The shifts are in the value of Indian point of view. R.K.Narayan sends the message very clearly that sex and illicit love are responsible for the downfall of Raju and also Rosie. The moral degradation has been very well shown. The novelist wants to suggest that the characters reap the wages of sin. The Radical view of marriage. The novelist has taken a radical view of the subject. Though, Marco and Rosie are artist, one is a writer and another is a dancer, they lack Mutual understanding.When the husband comes to know wifeâ€˜s infidelity, he leaves her. Their marriage is social institution which should naturally frozen at the trespassing elements. This perhaps is the reason that Marco feels happy when he comes to know Rajuâ€˜s imprisonment. The realistic treatment of Love, Sex and Marriage All Love, sex and marriage are treated by R.K.Narayan realistically. Love rises and falls. Sex and illicit love-it is full of passion and initiative on the part of the hero. He plays the cards well in putting Rosie under his debt which facilitates the task of completing the game. After the passion is over, we have a sort of pathos, a sort of anticlimax. Modern and Traditional The treatment of love, sex and marriage in the novel is both modern and traditional. It is modern because Marco and Rosie are living separately for some time. This is one of the evils of modern age where marriages are breaking. R.K.Narayan is hitting that aspect of life. It is traditional because R.K.Narayan shows the importance of passionate love. Love between husband and wife should be passionate. This aspect is missing between the two.
R.K.Narayan hints at the importance of love between Marco and Rosie otherwise the marriage would receive a jolt. A woman happens to have physical desires. She expects physical as also the emotional satisfaction from her husband. The responsibility of a husband is immense. This aspect has been very well presented by the novelist. To conclude I would say that while exploring the areas of sex, love and marriage R.K.Narayan, through the character of Raju has represented the spirit of the contemporary young man of India.
It shows how a young Indian can keep the sense of morality at bay for the sake of commercial and physical gain. He flouts loyalties for the self. He does not show respect for the traditional values. But Raju is not only responsible for everything. Rosie is also a girl who falls in this gaze of modern independence existence R.K.Narayan, as a true Indian has presented the theme of love, sex and marriage with a typical Indian trusts.
Short Answer Questions Key 1. Who speaks first in Chapter 1? Raju. 2. Before joining Raju on the steps of the temple, what does Velan do? Wash in the river. 3. What town had Velan been visiting before meeting Raju? Mangal. 4. Why was Velan out of town? He was visiting family. 5. What does the barber deduce about Raju? He recently left jail. 6. What did Raju dislike about his last residence? He loathed waking early in the morning.
7. What is the name of Raju's love interest? Rosie. The Conflict between Tradition and Modernity in R. K. Narayan’s The Guide
East-West conflict is a major theme in R. K. Narayan‘s novels. This paper is an attempt to delineate the conflict between tradition and modernity–one of the aspects of East-West conflict– in Narayan‘s magnum opus The Guide. The Guide was written between 1956 and 1958 when he was in the United States. It was first published in Great Britain in 1958 by Methuen & Co. Ltd. and in the U. S. by Viking. Its 61 st reprint appeared in 2006. That reveals the popularity and greatness of the book. The Guide is the autobiography of Raju, who is in turn a rail road station food vendor, a tourist guide, a sentimental adulterer, a dancing girl‘s manager, a swindler, a jail-bird and a martyred mystic. It follows Raju along a curiously braided time sequence. After describing the early life and education of Raju, the author shows how Malgudi became a railway station and how Raju became the owner of a railway stall and came to be tourist guide. Trying to help a rich visitor, Marco, the archeologist, in his researches, Raju is involved in a tangle of new relationships. Rosie, Marco‘s wife, becomes Raju‘s lover. Abandoned by Marco, Rosie realized, with Raju‘s help, her ambition of becoming a dancer. But Raju‘s possessive instinct finally betrays him into a criminal action, and he is charged and convicted for forgery. Coming out of the jail, he cuts off all connection with the past and sets up as a sort of ascetic. Once again he is caught in the coils of his own self-deception, and he is obliged to undertake a twelve-day fast to end a drought that threatens the district with a famine. In vain he tells his chief ‗disciple‘ Velan the whole truth about himself and Rosie, and about the crash and incarceration. But nobody believes that he is anyone other than a saint. He has made his bed, and he must perforce lie on it. The reader is free to infer that, on the last day of the fast, he dies opportunely, a martyr. Does it really rain, or is it only Raju‘s optical delusion? Does he really die, or merely sinks down in exhaustion? Has the lie really become the truth, or has it been merely exposed? The reader is free to conclude as he likes. The story of The Guide develops along a bewildering succession of time shifts. Since Narayan was in touch with South Indian film industry he applied cinematic techniques of jump out, flash back, flash forward and montage in his plot construction. Thus the novel has an episodic structure rather than the linear plot of the more usual kind of novel, where the story moves in a singly cohesive curve from the beginning through the middle to the end. The unconventional plot of The Guide circles freely in time and space, both within and between chapters, moving from the past to the present and back again, and from Malgudi to the Mempi Hills to Mangal in a seemingly random way (Sen 15). Modern European and American novels influenced the novelists of Indian Writing in English and Narayan was no exception. Thus the Western fictional
paradigms of bildungsroman and picaresque narrative are evident in The Guide. In fact The Guide is a bildungsroman of a rogue. In his essay ―The Reluctant Guru‖ Narayan recounts his constant resistance to the role that seemed to be foisted on him—the role of an authentic exponent of the mystic East, a guru or a sage, a role that he was most uncomfortable with, but which he could not entirely shake off. Going by the flimsy evidence of texts like The English Teacher and The Guide, his audience often demanded doses of Indian spirituality and mysticism from him. Narayan confesses ―I felt myself in the same situation as Raju, the hero of my Guide who was mistaken for a saint and began to wonder at some point himself if sudden effulgence has begun to show on his face.‖ Narayan is even telephoned by enthusiasts in the wee hours of the morning because it is assumed that he would be up and meditating at 4: 00 a. m.; he is asked if he can communicate with spirits; he is asked to predict the future; he is even importuned to help an earnest diasporic devotee attain a vision of the Goddess Kali! (Paranjape 175). In response to such mistaken adulation, this is what Narayan had to say to his class: ―Your search is for a Foundation Grant. The young person in my country would sooner learn now to organize a business or manufacture an atom bomb or an automobile than how to stand on one‘s head.‖ We cannot be in any doubt as to what Narayan meant: the ―realities‖ of India were quite different from the images that the Americans had of them. Narayan himself was also quite different from what Velan and others projected on him (Paranjape 176) The title ―Reluctant Guru‖ is also well-suited to Raju, the protagonist. Raju, like Narayan, is a most reluctant Guru. Raju has been called a guide, not a guru, because Narayan wishes to underscore, even problematize, the very difficulties of such a traditional appellation and function. ―Indeed it would almost seem that Narayan wishes to tone down ―guru,‖ which etymologically conveys the idea of heavy, to something lighter, or Laghu in calling Raju a guide. But the crucial question is whether the slighter, lighter, or more ironic title of guide makes a real difference in the end‖ (Paranjape 176). Rosie, Velan, Raju‘s mother and uncle, Gaffur, the driver, Joseph, the steward of the bungalow where Marco stayed are all characters exhibiting the traditional Indian culture and ethos. Raju and Marco, on the contrary, bear features of Western or Modern culture and manners. Thus the conflict between tradition and modernity or influence of one over the other is evident in the behaviour and conversation of these characters throughout the novel. Some such situations where traditional or modern elements are visible in the characters are portrayed below: It was customary or traditional among the Hindus to bow low and touch the feet of elders and venerable persons. But Raju, after his release from the prison, and sitting lonely on the river steps, did not allow the villager, Velan to do so. To quote from the text: ―Velan rose, bowed low, and tried to touch Raju‘s feet. Raju recoiled at the attempt. ‗I‘ll not permit anyone to do this. God alone is entitled to such a prostration. He will destroy us if we attempt to usurp His rights‘‖ (Narayan 16). Rosie though a post-graduate is never a modern woman. She is not corrupted with modern and materialistic values. She is a traditional Indian wife, longs for affection and care from her husband. She cannot cope up with the archeological interests of her husband, Marco. Marco
dislikes being disturbed by any one, even his wife in his studies and professional activities. Rather he longs for appreciation from his wife. This difference in wave-length is the cause of quarrel between Rosie and Marco. Joseph, the steward of the bungalow where Marco stays for his professional work, reads Marco well and has all praise for him. He tells Raju when Raju asked him if Marco bothers him in any way, ―Oh, no, he is a gem. A good man; would be even better if his wife left him alone. He was no happy without her. Why did you bring her back? She seems to be a horrible nagger‘‖ (Narayan 129). When Marco deserted Rosie and took train to Madras, she came to Raju‘s house for shelter. Seeing her coming to the house alone in the evening Raju‘s mother was wonderstruck. To quote from the text: The very first question she asked was, ‗Who has come with you, Rosie?‘ Rosie blushed, hesitated and looked at me. I moved a couple of steps backward in order that she might see me only dimly and not in all raggedness. I replied, ‗I think she has come alone, mother.‘ My mother was amazed. ‗Girls today! How courageous you are! In our day we wouldn‘t go to the street corner without an escort. And I have been to the market only once in my life, when Raju‘s father was alive.‘ (Narayan 141) The difference in attitude, as well as the temperament is seen here. Raju‘s mother is a traditional Hindu woman who is denied public exposure. She was prohibited and hence afraid to go out alone, whereas Rosie is a modern woman. The western influence is evident in her attitude, behaviour and temperament. She is not all afraid to go out alone. Is Raju a real saint or is he a fake? This question has exercised most readers of the novel ever since its publication. Sally Appleton in the review titled ―The Ambiguous Man,‖ which appeared in Commonweal Magazine, a few weeks after the novel‘s publication observes: ―The author must decide whether or not holiness will work. . . . The author abandons the reader to choose arbitrarily whether or not, as Raju sinks into the muddy river bed, he is dying, whether or not, as the water rises to Raju‘s knees, it rises because ―it‘s raining in the hills‖ or because Raju himself is sagging into it (cited in Pontes and Ezekiel 92)‖ (qtd. in Paranjape 176). It is not surprising that critics are divided on this question. C. D. Narasimhaiah considers Raju a transformed man in the end, a saint, whereas G. S. Balarama Gupta believes that Raju is a selfish swindler, an adroit actor, and a perfidious megalomaniac (Paranjape 177). To quote Paranjape again: The question is not so much whether Raju is a willing saint or not because, like all of us, every one within the novel notices Raju‘s reluctance, even his unfitness for gurudom. But does that really change who or what he ends up becoming? So what we have here is a real problem, one that leads us to the crux of Narayan‘s artistry and to his relationship to Indian modernity. Because if Raju is a fake, Narayan is putting into doubt not just an individual but the institution of guru itself.‖ (177) It is the belief of village people of Mangal that it will rain and thus put an end to the drought if a true sanyasi does genuine fasting for twelve days. It is a belief prevalent among the Hindus as such in India. Whether that people have direct experience of this miracle or not, does not lessen
their faith in it. It might be only hearsay, something popularized by the Brahmin priests for their exploitation of the people. Narayan only wants to portray such beliefs and rites prevailing among his people. He does not want to glorify or condemn such beliefs. There is no clear hint at the end of the novel whether it rained. Rather one has to doubt it based on the description of the topography. The narration of the last paragraph of novel is as follows: . . . He got up feet. He had to be held by Velan and another on each side. In the profoundest silence the crowd followed at a solemn, silent pace. The eastern sky was red. Many in the camp were still sleeping. Raju could not walk, but, he insisted upon pulling himself along the same. He panted with the effort. He went down the steps of the river, halting for breath on each step, and finally reached the basin of water. He stepped into it, shut his eyes, and turned towards the mountain, his lips muttering the prayer. Valan and another held him each by an arm. The morning Sun was out now; a great shaft of light illuminated the surroundings. It was difficult to hold Raju on his feet, as he had a tendency to flop down. They held him as if he were a baby. Raju opened his eyes, looked about, and said, ‗Velan, it‘s raining in the hills. I can feel it coming up under my feet, up my legs.‘ He sagged down. (Narayan 247)