Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Night Train at Deoli by Ruskin Bond Review

The short story "The night train at Deoli" was written by modern Indian writer Ruskin Bond. The author wrote in the introduction of this collection "I prefer to write about the people and places I have known and the lives of those whose paths I have crossed." The important thing that this story describes is a very recognizable thing for many people-- thoughts, feelings, situations.

According to the plot a young eighteen years old man, narrator, who was traveling through the small train station, Deoli, saw a young girl, who was selling baskets. At her request that he buy her basket, he bought one just because he felt sympathy for this girl. In spite of the fact that the narrator thought "I sat up awake for the rest of the journey. I could not rid my mind of the picture of the girl's face and her dark, smoldering eyes." Nevertheless, the memory of that girl faded after a few days.

Next time, when he passed this station again they met again. The narrator described it "I was looking out for her as the train drew into the station, and I felt an unexpected thrill when I saw her walking up the platform." They smiled at each other as do old friends. This time the recollection about the meeting stuck in his memory and next time he deliberately stopped at Deoli. But the girl wasn't there. Nobody knew where she was.

The narrator described in the story his reasoning about the possible intention to find her. He wasn't able to step through the line of his fate, to break away from his conventional life. Another reason was that the possibility of discovering prosaic life awed him. The narrator thought "I was afraid of discovering what really happened to the girl. Perhaps she was no longer in Deoli, perhaps she was married, perhaps she had fallen ill …"

Let's think what makes this story so interesting and memorable for readers. I think that is an ability of the author to describe thoughts such as many people had. Going through the life people meet somebody who could become the intimate friend but it never happened. I thought about the mystery of meeting future spouse, it is impossible to imagine that if the meeting wouldn’t have occurred, the children, my children wouldn't be born.

The story of the boy who kept reminiscing about a casual meeting was concluded by the line "I never break my journey at Deoli, but I pass through as often as I can."

Here is the link to the story, we can find it on page 44 in the book:

The Night Train at Deoli and Other Stories - Ruskin Bond

This story was discussed with the teacher Laya in online school

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Grace (From Collection Dubliners) by James Joyce Review

The short story "Grace" by James Joyce is difficult for reading. The main idea of the story is not obvious, the story includes a lot of dialogs referring to religion and historical debates in Ireland. It was written in the style of "what I see - I write", the author described life around including details which it seemed not important for text in whole.

The plot as I understood (the others would make a different interpretation) about one person, Mr. Kernan, who was found wounded on the street after being drunk, his tongue was hurt. His friend carried him to his home. James Joyce included in the text a lot of details such as a description of strangers, small talk with the members of Mr. Kerman family. The author mentioned that the main character went down during last years probably because of his bad habits (alcoholism).

After few days his friends visited Mr. Kerman and he witnessed their discussion about Dubliners, religion, philosophy, relationships in society etc. Eventually, they decided to go to the church to listen to messa. The friends of Mr. Kerman convinced him to apply for a church for the purpose to abandon his bad habits.

I got an impression that the name of the collection of the short stories "Dubliners" connected with the text more than the title "Grace". The large part of the story dedicated to the depiction of style of life there. After attentive reading of the story, imagination draws the full-screen picture of Dubliners: they are supportive, religious, they like to have philosophical debates. It has something in common with the story that tourists tell about Irishmen: they would not have to dwell but they have a book “Ulysses” in the pocket (Ulysses is a modernist novel by Irish writer James Joyce).

Here are some links for the text and other resources about this story: 

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Log By Guy de Maupassant Review

In the short story "The log" Guy de Maupassant tells readers about the case from the life of the main male character which became a reason why he was never married.

In the beginning of the story, the old acquaintances (she was the old lady, the mistress of the house, and he was a very old friend of hers) were sitting in front of the fireplace when a log fell out from the fireplace into the drawing-room and rolled on to the carpet. That reminded him of an event from his youth which had given him a kind of prejudice against marriage.

Here is his story.

He had a friend who decided to marry. Their friendship continued, the spouses invited him to dinner and other family's events.

Once, at the request of the wife, he was invited to their house to entertain her while her husband (his friend) had to come back home late for business deals.

When he came and stayed one on one with that woman, embarrassing silence hung in the air. She started the conversation from the question about love, finishing it with a hint that she might be in love with him. She said that the fireplace in front of which they were sitting was rather hot and suggested moving to the sofa. He reluctantly followed her and suddenly she gripped his head and kissed him. The author made this remark: "Let the man who has never felt on his lips the warm kiss of a woman who is ready to give herself to him throw the first stone at me."

This intimate moment was interrupted "... when a loud noise made us both jump up. The log had fallen into the room, knocking over the fire irons and the fender, and on to the carpet". When he threw the log into the fire, the husband unexpectedly came back, much earlier than they expected. Thanks to this log the terrible disclosure didn't happen.

Nevertheless, since then, the family began to avoid meeting with him and he came to an unpleasant conclusion about faithfulness, love, and relationships. He never married.

It is an interesting to see in the story not only action. I noticed, that the author put into the story some interesting observations.

Testing relationships by silence:

If people feel comfortable in silence, it proves their good relationship. We can see an illustration of it in the beginning of the story: "They had not spoken for about a minute, ... dreaming of no matter what, in one of those moments of friendly silence between people who have no need to be constantly talking in order to be happy together"

An opposite feeling we can see in the last part of the story which proved that if people didn't have a good relationship, the silence became tense. The main character of the story named it "that painful silence"

About relationships between man and woman the author said:
" ... a man and a woman are always strangers in mind and intellect; they remain belligerents, they belong to different races. There must always be a conqueror and a conquered, a master and a slave; now the one, now the other--they are never two equals."

The definition of love according to the woman who was ready to betray her husband:
"It seems to me that real love must unsettle the mind, upset the nerves and distract the head; that it must--how shall I express it?--be dangerous, even terrible, almost criminal and sacrilegious; that it must be a kind of treason; I mean to say that it is bound to break laws, fraternal bonds, sacred obligations; when love is tranquil, easy, lawful and without dangers, is it really love?'"

Summing up, I would like to note that the true Master includes into his masterpiece something that reader has already known. It makes some plot lines very recognizable and memorable. So Guy de Maupassant did.

Here are the links to the text and audio of this short story:

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The Short Story "The Last Judgment" by Karel Čapek Review

The short story "The Last Judgment" by Karel Čapek was written in a very "easy for reading" way with great sense of humor.

The plot is how the murderer after he was killed by a policeman appeared in the heaven's court. The last judgment was committed in such a way as it used to be on the earth, with accuser and defender and eventually the protagonist was sentenced for sending to hell.

This is one example of funny description of the conversation between a prosecutor and an accused (Kugler):

"He killed them with an axe and found only sixteen dollars, although they had twenty thousand hidden away.”

Kugler jumped up. “Where?”

“In the straw mattress,

The dialogs, the formal procedures in the cort, reactions of protagonists - everything was written by Karel Čapek very well, I have read this story with the greatest pleasure.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

In the Pride of His Youth By Rudyard Kipling Analysis

Could this story have had positive consequences? According to Rudyard Kipling probably no, but an optimistically oriented reader would make another conclusion.

"In the Pride of His Youth" by Rudyard Kipling is a sad but lifelike and good written story. It looks difficult for reading because the first paragraph includes an extract from the poem by Rudyard Kipling "Thrown Away".

It is a story about a young man just after his wedding who was attracted by a good salary and moved to India, "he had received an appointment in India which carried a magnificent salary from the Home point of view"

Despite the fact that the cost of living in India was high ("The salary that loomed so large six thousand miles"), he sent almost all his salary to his wife with his newborn son who he had never met.

At the beginning he received "big, crossed, seven-sheet letters- from his wife, telling him how she longed to see him, and what a Heaven upon earth would be their property when they met".

He struggled with keeping the money, "Dicky could not afford living in the chummery, modest as it was. He had to explain this before he moved to a single room next the office where he worked all day".

The level of the salary couldn't have been higher because of his young age.

That company believed that low salaries were appropriate for young employees. They thought that the current level of salary would be enough, but the expenses of his family ... they didn't take it into account.

The tone of letters from his wife had changed, his child had the health problems and "his own little, little son, had died and, behind this, forty lines of an angry woman's scrawl, saying the death might have been averted if certain things, all costing money, had been done, or if the mother and the baby had been with Dicky." The following letter informed him that his wife had left him for another man.

Dicky applied for resigning and after three days he received the letter from the head of the office, who " said that it was a most unusual step, but, in view of the ability that Mr. Hatt had displayed ..., he was in a position to offer him an infinitely superior post ..." with a good salary. This money was "enough to have saved the wife, and the little son, and to have allowed of assured and open marriage, came then. Dicky burst into a roar of laughter".

When he refused that suggestion, the boss was very surprised and said "The boy's mad!".

Rudyard Kipling expressed his opinion about the boss’s conclusion finishing the story this line:

"I think he was right; but Dicky Hatt never reappeared to settle the question".

The story is sad but many would agree that this situation is typical, young people wouldn’t be prepared to take the responsibilities.

Let's look at the reasons of such a disappointing final:

The wedding:

The two protagonists of the story had never been in love with each other. The author described this fact telling about the cheapness and quickness of their wedding. Temporary difficulties could have been endured if there had been true love between the spouses.


If a reader withdraws pessimistic feelings and thinks about Dicky's future without prejudice, the conclusion will be different. He received life experience, he would be able to create a new family and become happy.

If Rudyard Kipling were alive, we would have a good discussion on this story ...

This is a link to the resource with audio. It is possible listening to this story after making the free subscription in Podcasts "Morning Short" on the iPhone, it is also available for listening through the Internet browser:

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Eveline by James Joyce Review

James Joyce is widely known for his novel Ulysses, as tourists who were in Ireland say, this novel has a huge popularity in that country.

"Eveline" is a short story which focuses on the thoughts and feelings of the girl who tries to leave her hometown, probably Dublin, and go with her boyfriend to Argentina. She was going to do it, she found so many reasons to this big step in her life but she was undecided and eventually, she refused to leave home.

I was surprised reading comments in the social network "Goodreads". Most of the comments explained the feeling sorry for Eveline that she wasn't able to leave her place. I had another opinion: she shouldn't leave her family and friends. 

"She had consented to go away, to leave her home. Was that wise? She tried to weigh each side of the question". Let's divide the arguments for and cons of leaving hometown for Eveline and other inhabitants.

The place where she used to play was occupied by a new building, many her friends left town. "Everything changes. Now she was going to go away like the others, to leave her home."

Eveline had nothing to regret with her job (at least she thought so):
"What would they say of her in the Stores when they found out that she had run away with a fellow? Say she was a fool, perhaps; and her place would be filled up by advertisement. Miss Gavan would be glad."

The serious reason for leaving home was that she "sometimes felt herself in danger of her father's violence." But it would be an imaginary issue, I'm not sure that she's right in her thoughts "When they were growing up he had never gone for her like he used to go for Harry and Ernest, because she was a girl but latterly he had begun to threaten her and say what he would do to her only for her dead mother's sake." I could admit that she was mistaken, it looked like a childish feeling of offense but in reality, her father might love her.

They have a different terms of money, her father said that "... she used to squander the money".

She hopes for the better life with her boyfriend probably with her future husband. The author wrote, "She was about to explore another life with Frank." I think that the word "about" is important. It looks such as James Joyce wanted to show the ambiguity of the situation.

Eveline thought "Frank was very kind, manly, open-hearted" What is really important that she wasn't in love with him. Only she "felt elated" being with him.

Eveline made also a few statements which contradicted her previous thoughts. For example "Her father was becoming old lately, she noticed; he would miss her. Sometimes he could be very nice"

The final scene demonstrated the uncertainty of her intentions about so fundamental decision as a changing everything and for the call of Frank “Come!”, she answered "No! No! No! It was impossible. Her hands clutched the iron in frenzy. Amid the seas, she sent a cry of anguish."

What would be the right decision for her? We don't know. Perhaps James Joyce left it for the reader's judgment.

Here are links to the text and audio of this short story:

Mechanic of Emotional Ties (Analysis the Short Story "The Postmaster" by Rabindranath Tagore)

The short story "The Postmaster" by Rabindranath Tagore describes how a post worker (postmaster) received a job in a remote village. He felt lonely and probably for this reason he started teaching an orphan girl (Ratan) to read. At the time when the postmaster retired and had to come back home, the thought that he was leaving without her shocked Ratan. Describing the feeling of sympathy of the main character, the postmaster, Tagore made a conclusion:
"After that comes the misery of awakening, and then once again the longing to get back into the maze of the same mistakes."

Rabindranath Tagore's work includes a lot of poetic descriptions and generalizations. One interesting thing is his exploration of relationships between people, of the mechanic of emotional ties. He accomplished it in a very bright, colorful, poetic form, which includes the following parts:

The beauty of Nature:
"... the movement of the leaves and the clouds of the sky were enough to fill life with joy—such were the sentiments to which he sought to give expression."

The feeling of loneliness:
"When in the evening the smoke began to curl up from the village cowsheds, and the cicadas chirped in every bush; when the mendicants of the Baül sect sang their shrill songs in their daily meeting-place, when any poet, who had attempted to watch the movement of the leaves in the dense bamboo thickets, would have felt a ghostly shiver run down his back, the postmaster would light his little lamp, and call out "Ratan."

Readers would imagine the background where the story took place.

We can notice that here and further the author uses the grammatical constructions with the words "would" and “used to” which expresses the feeling of nostalgia, maybe even regret that it remained in the past and will never happen again, for example, this one: "He used to come home in the evening after his work".

The theme of recollection is the clue in this part of the story: "Ratan would sit on the floor near the postmaster's feet, as memories crowded in upon her". The postmaster wouldn't tell other people about his family because he felt that he was lonely in that village, he would tell it only to this little girl. "... the girl would allude to his people as mother, brother, and sister, as if she had known them all her life. In fact, she had a complete picture of each one of them painted in her little heart."

Connection between the nature and feeling of loneliness:

Rabindranath Tagore explained this idea in these lines:

"the postmaster was ... thinking to himself: "Oh, if only some kindred soul were near—just one loving human being whom I could hold near my heart!" This was exactly, he went on to think, what that bird was trying to say, and it was the same feeling which the murmuring leaves were striving to express."

The decision to teach the girl alphabet is a next important step in building emotional ties between two people: "I was thinking," said the postmaster, "of teaching you to read."

The illness of the postmaster and helping the little girl meant a lot for each of them.
"Ratan ceased to be a little girl. She at once stepped into the post of mother, called in the village doctor, gave the patient his pills at the proper intervals, sat up all night by his pillow, cooked his gruel for him, and every now and then asked: "Are you feeling a little better, Dada?"

The postmaster decided to leave this place forever and return home. "... the girl suddenly asked him: "Dada, will you take me to your home?". The postmaster laughed. "What an idea!" said he; but he did not think it necessary to explain to the girl wherein lay the absurdity. That whole night, in her waking and in her dreams, the postmaster's laughing reply haunted her—"What an idea!"

The reader of the story can observe the actions from different perspectives than the protagonists. The postmaster suggestion of giving all his money offended the girl.

He left the village alone and the author concluded:

"After that comes the misery of awakening, and then once again the longing to get back into the maze of the same mistakes."

That's all. The story is impressive and well-written such as many other things which Rabindranath Tagore did.

Here are the links to the text and audio of this short story:

The Postmaster by Rabindranath Tagore
Page 69