Sunday, July 2, 2017

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

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