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Male Protagonists of Rabindranath Tagore’s Short Stories: Helpless Victims of Bourgeios Society

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Male Protagonists of Rabindranath Tagore’s Short Stories:

Helpless Victims of Bourgeios Society

Dr. K. V. Dominic


Rabindranath Tagore, the only Indian to get Nobel Prize for Literature, is mainly acclaimed by the world as a great bilingual (Bengali and English) poet. But his short stories, written originally in Bengali and later translated into English are world renowned and as competent as any other short story writer’s works in the world. Tagore has been compared to such masters of the short story, as Tolstoy, Edgar Allan Poe, Anton Chekhov and Guy de Maupassant. Asit Bandhyopadhyay makes a comparative assessment of Tagore:

Tolstoy is didactic. Maupassant is erotic. Rabindranath combines the good qualities of both without their excesses. He delved deep into the psychology of man and riddle of existence in his short stories which are universal in their appeal . . . . Rabindranath’s success as a master short story writer was actually ensured by his essentially lyrical temperament since . . . there is close affinity between a short story and a lyric. (61-62)

Tagore wrote nearly one hundred short stories during his abundant literary career. It was during the 1890s that he wrote fifty-nine stories. Some fifty or more stories are readily available in English in collections like Glimpses of Bengal life (1913), Hungry Stones (1916), Mashi (1918), Broken Ties (1925), The Parrot’s Training (1944) and The Runaway (1959). Some stories were translated from Bengali into English by the poet himself and the others by several qualified translators.

Tagore deviated from the traditional way of story-telling and devised for himself a new structure. The short story of Tagore begins abruptly, develops around a trivial and ordinary incident or situation and ends with a twist when the readers’ curiosity about the story is almost acute. He presents life as vignettes and not in its totality or completeness. Thus Tagore’s stories are deliberately fashioned works of art and not straightforward tales of one event or more. Tagore’s stories were original creations having no influence from any Western writers. Realism mixed with Romanticism, insight into human minds, absence of excessive passion and absence of exaggerated situations, make his stories singular.

Indian women’s rare quality of courage, piety, obedience, love and devotion are the themes of many of Tagore’s stories. The treatment of women and their position in society was of serious concern to Rabindranath Tagore. Women in Tagore’s days were highly exploited by the feudal society. The out-dated, cruel, feudal customs enhanced the miseries and tortures of women. Through his stories Tagore pointed out those injustices. “Simultaneously, he reveals the spiritual richness of Bengali women. The depiction of the cruel exploitation of the helpless women made the critical pathos of the stories of Tagore more intense” (Basu 58). Tagore was never influenced by patriarchal views. That is why he depicted his heroines as more powerful and brighter than the spineless men. Tagore not only reveals the spirituality of his heroines but also shows their keen practical sense and determination. Tagore’s stories confirm the fact that he believed in the progress of women and in their emancipation from feudal bondage. He also believed that, given equal rights and opportunities, they might occupy their rightful place in society side by side with men.

Next to women, the characters in Tagore’s stories that linger longest in the minds of the readers are those of children and the adolescent. Tagore was interested in children and their education; he was against the prevailing system of education and upbringing which destroyed their personality and made them slaves of text-books, with the school as their prison-house. Tagore’s heart overflowed with pity for children. His deep and pure love to children gives his stories an impetuous energy. His children are very handsome and angelic and they win the hearts of all persons who meet them. They are active and fully involved in their child-like activities. The conflict of their innocence with the evil or cunningness of this world brings out the pathos of these stories. These children are very often drawn to Nature, led by Nature and are spending most of the time in the lap of Nature. The way they respond to Nature reminds one of the children in Blake’s and Wordsworth’s poems. As they are weak the reader finds them crushed by the cruel grown-ups.

Tagore’s male characters are a mixed lot. They are the typical representatives of the bourgeois society. One finds in his stories the lonely and the worldly, men of property and of business, the pleasure seeker and the pseudo-intellectual, the book worm and the journalist, the adventurous and the cowardly. These characters are revealed sometimes through themselves, sometimes through the writer’s description. A good many of these stories are narrated in the first person and the narrator has no hesitation in revealing his own weaknesses and also his strength for the benefit of the readers. Some men characters are apparently helpless and the reader may be irritated by their passive nature and behaviour. The youth of the closing years of the nineteenth century had not yet been emancipated from the age-long repression of social bonds. That social structure is almost demolished today and the liberty of the individual is an accomplished fact now. Hence many of these characters may not be recognizable; they may appear to be the fossilized remains of a dead world. But that is if we forget their essential humanity, their eternal human passions and analyse them as illustrations for a study of social history.

Tagore portrayed many of his men characters ironically. The irony may not be noticeable in physical incongruity but in the play of the mind which may or may not evoke a smile. There are very few of Tagore’s men who are not drawn with irony. The Bengali intelligentsia of Tagore’s time was spineless men. Characterising the passivity of intellectuals Tagore writes:

There is not a soul, who would undergo a strong inner struggle or live a really healthy life. Every one merrily eats and drinks, goes to the office, smokes, sleeps and chatters rubbish. By starting to talk about emotions they become like children. With all earnestness one would like to meet at least one full blooded, strong and daring personality, but only ghosts are moving all around, who have severed all relations with the world. (Basu 72)

Tagore reproved the intelligentsia who stood away from the life of the people. He never idealized the patriarchal structure of the village, but showed the ignorance and backwardness of the village population in a realistic manner. Tagore showed in his stories that the seeds of the destruction of capitalist society lay within the society itself. The futile pursuit after wealth made men unhappy. The reader gets a general feeling of dissatisfaction from Tagore’s stories. Tagore showed in certain stories how in the capitalist society man’s way of life changed to the extent that he slowly lost all human qualities.

Six short stories with men as the central characters are going to be critically analysed in this paper. The stories are “Kabuliwallah,” “Little Master’s Return,” “Ramkanai’s Folly,” “The Renunciation,” “A Single Night” and “The Divide.”




“Kabuliwallah,” published in 1892, is one of the best short stories of Tagore. It narrated the story of Rehman, the Kabuliwallah, who was a fruit seller in the streets of Calcutta. He frequented the house of the narrator who lived with his wife and the five-year old talkative daughter, Mini. Mini found a good listener in the Kabuliwallah. They cracked jokes and laughed merrily when they met every day.

One morning the narrator and Mini saw the Kabuliwallah being led away between two policemen. Kabuliwallah got arrested for stabbing his neighbour who had owed him some money but refused to pay. This happened a few days before his due time to go to his native land.

Years passed. It was the day of Mini’s marriage. Rahman (Kabuliwallah), who was released from jail appeared before the house. The narrator could not welcome him since he had been a criminal. He felt that Rahman’s appearance there on that auspicious day might bring them bad luck. The narrator asked Rahman to come another day. Rehman was not granted his request to see Mini for a moment. He then showed the narrator a small and dirty piece of paper which bore the mark of an inky little hand laid flat on the paper. Year after year when he came to Calcutta to sell his goods in the streets, he had carried, next to his heart, this touch of the hand of his own little daughter. The Kabuliwallah seemed amazed at the sight of Mini because she was a grown up girl then. He could not renew their old friendship. Tagore narrates:

When she had gone, Rahman shook his head sorrowfully and sat down on the floor. The idea had suddenly come to him that his daughter must have grown up too, while he had been away so long. He would have to make friends again with her also. He would certainly not find her as she was when he left her. And besides, what might not have happened to her in these eight years? (Dodd 17)

The marriage pipes sounded but Rahman sat on seeing before him the great mountain of Afghanistan. The narrator gave a hundred rupee note to him and told him to go back to his country and visit his daughter, and let that happiness of his meeting bring good fortune to Mini. The narrator had to cut short some of the entertainment because of this charity. But the marriage feast was all the brighter to him because of the thought that in a distant land, a long-lost father would meet again his only child.

The myth-making power of Tagore is evidently seen in this story. Here the character is seized by inward vision and presented with total understanding and love. Iyengar comments on the story:

The child sees the Cabuliwallah with the eyes of trust and affection, and so the ‘beast’ becomes ‘Beauty’ and the stranger becomes the Friend. In due course, the child Mini–‘who is incapable of wasting a minute in silence’–becomes a bashful girl, and with a few deft touches Tagore suggests the miracle of the bud’s unfoldment as the full-blown flower. (Rabindranath Tagore 72)

Through Mini Tagore opens before the readers the innocent world of children. She is very beautiful, energetic and talkative. Tagore contrasts the innocence and playfulness of Mini with the seriousness of her father. She even baffles her father by asking him “Father, what relation is mother to you?” Mini could make her noble, educated, high-ranking father think that the illiterate, criminal Kabuliwallah is also a father like him. Through Mini Kabuliwallah could see his own daughter.

In this story the narrator is little more than a spectator: he is a father who tries to appreciate another father’s affection for a child reminding him of his own daughter. Mini’s unfriendly behaviour to the Kabuliwallah when he paid his final visit from the jail might have grieved his heart and that made him think about the possible strange behaviour he would get from his own daughter. It is this pathos that gives sweetness to this story.


“Little Master’s Return”


Raicharan is the central character in the story “Little Master’s Return.” It was published in 1891. Raicharan was twelve when he came to work in the house of Anakul. Anakul got married and now Raicharan found that he had two masters instead of one; he was soon comforted however by a new arrival in the house. Raicharan was very fond of Anakul’s son and he was a good friend and entertainer to him.

On a rainy day, when the afternoon was bright, the child compelled Raicharan to take him to the rice fields, on the banks of the river. He then insisted that Raicharan should pick some flowers from the large Kadamba tree in the mud. When Raicharan went for it the child was drawn by Nature to the river. When Raicharan returned with flowers he found that the little master was nowhere there. Only his go-cart could be found. Heart-broken Raicharan ran up and down the fields calling the child till evening. Not finding Raicharan and the child, Anakul’s wife sent for Raicharan and he was brought to the house. Raicharan told her what had happened. They suspected that the child was either drowned or kidnapped by Gypsies. Raicharan was dismissed from his master’s house and he returned to his village.

In his old age a son was born to Raicharan. He could not love the child at first because his mind was fully occupied with his master’s dead son. The child started to speak exactly as his dead little master. He treated the child as the re-born child of his master. He gave him delicious food, costly dress and good education. To meet this expense he worked as a servant in a house. In this way twelve years passed. Phailna, as the boy was named, lived like a rich man’s son. Raicharan was old and weak and so he gave up his work as a servant and left some money with Phailna. He now made up his mind. He came to Anakul’s house one evening and told him and his wife that it had not been Padma that stole their baby, but he had done it. He added that the child was with him and he would bring him the next day. Though Anakul was suspicious of this revelation at first, he could not but believe it as it was nonsense to doubt his faithful servant. Thus Raicharan brought the child to Anakul’s house the next day. Anakul and his wife welcomed the child with great love and affection. He could not however forgive his old servant and asked where he would go since he was old. None would take him as a servant. Much pathos is created by the final narration of the story:

Phailna was angry at first, when he saw that he was the wealthy Anakul’s son and not Raicharan’s, because he thought that all this time he had been cheated of his birth right. But seeing Raicharan so unhappy, he generously said to Anakul: ‘Father, forgive him. Even if you don’t let him live with us, let him at least have a small monthly pension!’ Raicharan was speechless when he heard this. He looked for the last time on the face of his son. He salaamed his old master and mistress. Then he went out and was lost among the numberless people of the world. (Dodd 31)

At the end of the month some money was sent by Anakul in Raicharan’s address; but the money came back as Raicharan could not be found there.

Tagore is realistic in the depiction of nature. He never tries to make nature poetic or looked into nature as an escape from worldly problems. Depicting the flow of the river he pointed out its indifference to the whole incident. “The Padma went on rushing and swirling and gurgling as before, as it knew nothing and had no time to attend to the world’s minor occurrences” (Selected Short Stories 60). This tone of indifference of the Nature is not the case in many other stories. There, Tagore uses nature for the creation of a particular mood.

Secondary consideration to the outwardly events sometimes gives rise to unconvincing situations in some stories like this one. It is unconvincing for a mother to accept another boy as her own. But when one considers the fact that the author’s main aim was to reveal the inner world of the main characters without separating them from reality, then it can be said that Tagore in his stories remained true to the realistic exposition of reality. Raicharan’s loyalty to his master is extraordinary. The guilt in his mind that he was responsible for his little master’s death, made him offer his own son to the master. The guilt made him think that the drowned child was reborn in his house. He reared the boy as his little master and surrendered him finally to his old master. There can be no better sacrifice than this. But the pathos lies in the fact that his own dear son, for whom he lived, dismissed him. Heart-broken he ended his life.


“Ramkanai’s Folly”


“Ramkanai’s Folly” tells the story of an honest man who became the enemy of his own family and relatives. Ramkanai had an elder brother, Gurucharan. Old Gurucharan did not have any child. He lived with his second wife, Baradasundari. He became sick and bedridden. The doctor who nursed him told Ramkanai that his recovery was impossible. So Ramkanai, sitting beside Gurucharan asked him if he wanted to execute a will. As Gurucharan wanted it, he asked Ramkanai to write as he said. He wanted to bequeath all his goods and properties to his wedded wife Baradasundari. Ramkanai wrote it though with some reluctance. He had cherished the hope that his elder brother would bequeath all his properties to his only son, Nabadwip. Nabadwip’s mother took it a right for her son to inherit his uncle’s property. Gurucharan put his signature on the document and died. Ramkanai announced the news of the will to Baradasundari and she was much grateful to him. She kept the will safe in her house.

The news that Nabadwip was disinherited of his uncle’s property made him and his mother embittered. In fact, Nabadwip was married to a girl at his early age because of the false hope of inheriting his uncle’s property. He had no employment. He and his mother were determined to get the property of Gurucharan at any cost. They understood that Ramkanai would be an obstacle to their false claim to the property and so they compelled him to leave to Varanasi for some days. With his friends’ help Nabadwip made a false will bequeathing Gurucharan’s property to him and produced it in the court. Baradasundari sought the help of her cousin and produced the original will in the court. She claimed that she was the only inheritor and that Ramkanai was a witness to it.

The proceedings in the court started and Ramkanai was summoned to the court. Ramkanai was called back to his house and he was really shocked to learn that his son and his wife were making false claims and thus cheating his dead brother and his widow. He stopped eating and refused even water. To quote from the text, “Two days passed thus in silence and fasting. The day of the court hearing arrived. Meanwhile Nabadwip had bullied and bribed Baradasundari’s cousin into such complete subservience that he readily gave evidence in Nabadwip’s favour. Just as the goddess of victory was preparing to abandon Baradasundari and cross over the other side, Ramkanai was called” (Chaudhuri 43). Ramkanai told the judge what had actually happened. He said that his brother, before his death, had bequeathed his property to his wife Baradasundari. He had written the will and his brother had signed it. He continued, ‘“The will my son Nabadwip has produced is false.’ So saying, trembling violently, Ramkanai fell down in a faint” (Chaudhuri 44). On his return home, Ramkanai developed high fever and passed into delirium. “Deliriously babbling his son’s name, this foolish, nuinous, useless father of Nabadwip departured from the earth. Some of his relatives said, ‘A pity he didn’t die earlier’ (Chaudhuri 44).

In this story the protagonist’s folly consists in rectitude, which his family and society view as an aberration. Tapobratta Ghosh writes about this story, “Yet in presenting this exceptional rectitude, Rabindranath does not lose sight of the man’s ordinariness. This paradox is central to the story and to the characterization of Ramkanai. Ramkanai is a loner and a social misfit. . . . His isolation is brought out by a basic feature of technique. While every other character . . . are inconsistent targets of satire, Ramkanai alone is treated with a gentle humour, in language that is supportive and empathic rather than sharply censorious (11). The pathos towards the end of the story is acute. Ramkanai is left alone in his house. He is hated not only by his wife, son and relatives but also by his sister-in-law, Baradasundari, for whom he acted righteously and invited others’ enmity. Though he himself had hoped and wished that his brother’s property would be inherited by his son, and accordingly not earning much for his son’s future, he was not willing to act against his brother or his sister-in-law. He bore the true Indian family values of respect for elders, honesty, sincerity, affection, sympathy etc. Thus this story can also be treated as a postcolonial story, in the sense that, the protagonist bears and upholds the traditional Indian values, whereas the other characters are corrupted by the modern materialistic values.


“The Renunciation”


Hemanta, the chief character of the story “The Renunciation” is the representative of the progressive section of the intelligentsia, who ceaselessly struggled against feudal backwardness and colonial oppression. Harihar, Hemanta’s father, was a man belonging to the older generation and was a supporter of the customs of feudal patriarchal society. He had been the head of the community and many had been tortured by him. Peari Sankar had been one of his victims and he decided to take revenge on Harihar. Accordingly he utilized the custom of prohibition of inter-caste marriage and encouraged Hemanta to marry Kusum, a girl of lower caste. The caste of Kusum was cleverly concealed by Peari Sankar. Unaware of Peari Sankar’s plans, Hemanta fell in love with Kusum and married her. Even though Kusum had guessed the plans of Peari Sankar she did not reveal her true caste fearing it would ruin Hemanta’s love for her.

Peari Sankar then spread the news of Hemanta’s marriage with a low caste girl. When Harihar knew this he ordered his son to send Kusum out of the house. The order of the head of the family was considered indisputable in patriarchal Hindu family. The cruel laws of backward Bengali society struck a great blow to the young couple who dreamt of a happy and bright future. It was a difficult situation for Hemanta. If he refused to obey his father, he would become an outcast; he would lose his father’s blessing and consequently the inheritance; and that he would have to face a difficult and hard struggle with society where cruel and unjust customs existed. Unlike other weak intellectuals, Hemanta chose the difficult path. “His words at the end of the story, ‘I don’t care for caste,’ echo the word of the new generation of Bengal, those who in future were to wage a relentless war against feudal superstitions and colonial oppression” (Basu 73). Hemanta’s announcement seems very daring since very few intellectuals could challenge the age-old caste system, which had become an instrument of feudal oppression. Tagore’s attitude towards the caste system is declared here through the words of Hemanta. He was a passionate critic of feudal institutions. “Another pathos of the story ‘The Renunciation’ is the writer’s deep faith in love. The love of Hemanta for Kusum elevates him to a higher ideal and gives him the strength to struggle against the injustice of society” (Basu 74). The consequences of Hemanta’s firm decision would be dire. He would be outlawed from his society. He would lose his father’s property. Having no property of his own Hemanta would have to work hard to meet his family expense. He could foresee all these dangers; yet he was not willing to dismiss the girl who loved him deeply.


“A Single Night”


“A Single Night” tells about the pangs of a lover. Surubala and the protagonist, whose name is not mentioned in the story, went to the same primary school. As friends they played together. Surubala’s mother used to take very good care of the protagonist since she thought that he and her daughter were made for each other. Surubala was very beautiful, but the protagonist, a little boy, could not appreciate her beauty; instead he would tease her and tyrannise over her and she obeyed all his commands and bore all his punishments very patiently. His father, a steward to the Chowdhuris, the landlords, wanted to train his son as a rent-collector somewhere. But the boy had high ambitions for himself. He wanted to become at least a clerk of a district court. Instead of striving for the post of a clerk, he was attracted by the freedom movement. Thus he strove to become a Mazzini or a Garibaldi.

Around that time Surubala’s and the protagonist’s fathers agreed upon their marriage. The protagonist was then eighteen and Surubala eleven. His father thought that he was getting old enough to marry. To quote from the text, “But I had vowed to myself that I would remain a celibate all my life and die for my mother land. So I told my father that I did not want to marry before completing my studies” (Chaudhuri 60). Thereupon Surubala was married to Ramlochan Babu, a lawyer. Since the protagonist was busy with his political activities this news of the marriage seemed inconsequential to him. Since his father died, he had to leave his studies without completing the degree. He had to look for a job, and after much effort he obtained the post of a second teacher at an Entrance School in a small town in Noakhali Division. The school life shattered his dream of a future India and within two months all his enthusiasm petered out.

One of the teachers of the school had to stay on the premises to guard against fire. Since the protagonist was unmarried he was given that responsibility. Thus he began to live in a thatched house adjacent to the big school building. The school was near a large pond and far from the rest of the village. The government Pleader Ramlochan Ray lived with his wife Surubala fairly close to the school house. It was on a casual visit to Ramlochan’s house that the protagonist came to see Surubala, his school class mate, there. He did not reveal the truth of their childhood acquaintance to Ramlochan. When he came back home after that visit, she still haunted his mind. He had an aching feeling for her. To quote from the text, “Whatever I did, the pain would not go away. My heart seemed like an enormously heavy load suspended from the sinews of my breast” (Chaudhuri 61). He tried to overcome this feeling with the sober thought that Surubala was no more his, but Ramlochan’s wife. His mind told him, “She could have been the closest, dearest person to me in the world, sharing all the joys and sorrows of my life. Yet she is now so far, so removed, that to see her was forbidden, to talk to her improper, to think about her sinful” (Chaudhuri 62).

He was very upset after his visit to her. He lost concentration in teaching. He disliked visitors. In the evening he used to sit by the pond, listening to the meaningless rustle of the palm leaves, “thinking that human society was an intricate net of error: no one thought of doing the right thing at the right time, and later struggles with strong desires at the wrong moment” (Chaudhuri 62).

Ramlochan left town to attend a big trial somewhere. It was a Monday. The sky had been overcast since the morning. It started raining at about ten o’ clock. Sensing the danger of flood the headmaster dispersed the school. The protagonist was alone in the school. The rain and wind gathered momentum as the night progressed. There was no point in trying to sleep on such a night. He remembered Surubala was alone in her room amidst the deluge. The school building was solidly built. He thought that he would spend the night by the pond and thus Surubala can stay in his room. But he could not propose the idea to her. At about one o’ clock in the morning, he heard a huge roar. The flood water was rushing in. He got out of his room and made his way towards Surubala’s house. By the time he reached the side of the pond, he found that the water had risen to his knees. He climbed over the embankment by the pond as a fresh surge of water struck it. When he reached the top he saw that another person was climbing up from the opposite side. It was Surubala. Only a few feet of the embankment rose above the water and they were the only two creatures on that little island. They did not even ask of each other how they were. To quote from the text:

Instead, the two of us stared at the darkness all around. Death roared under our feet in the form of wild black flood water. . . . With one more huge wave, the two of us could be washed away from this edge of the earth; snapped from the stem of our separated lives, and merge into a single soul. Let that wave never come. Let Surubala live happily ever after with her husband, her children, her kinsfolk, her home, her possessions. I have tasted of infinite joy in this one night, standing by the edge of the great deluge. The night was almost over. The storm abated, and the water began to recede. Surubala went home without saying a word. (Chaudhuri 64).

He consoled himself that even though he could not become what he had aimed at, a single night had brought about the sole fulfilment of his inconsequential life. “In this story, the protagonist’s perception seems to mirror Rabindranath’s own. Confirmed in this deeper bond with Surubala, her lesser ties with home, husband and child cease to trouble him: he wishes her happiness in her domestic life. In the process, this would-be hero becomes truly heroic, his degrading self-pity out by. . . . Rabindranath repeatedly uses the symbol of ‘eternal night’ for the death of his accustomed poetic idiom. The epiphany of this story is set against such an eternal night” (Ghosh 16-17).

The pathos of the story lies in the pangs of love which the protagonist as well as Surubala bears towards the end of the story. He is an epitome of pure love. He never becomes a prey to carnal pleasures and temptations. His love to her is holy and pure. He never wants to destroy her; instead he wants her to live many more years shedding light and happiness to her husband, children, relatives and nieghbourhood. The protagonist has only losses in his life. He rejected the alliance with her aiming at higher and nobler things in life. But fate was against him and he could not achieve what he aimed at. Then only he understood the value of his love to her. The protagonist upholds the Indian values of respecting other’s wives. He could have molested her in the night when she stood near him on the embankment. Perhaps she would not have resisted. He did not even tempt her with any word or action. The silent grief and pathos which brim with love is the beauty of the story.


“The Divide” or “The Difference”


“The Divide” or “The Difference,” published in 1891, is a story which tells the readers how a silly thing or an event can break the life-long friendship. Banamali and Himangshu were neighbours as well as distant cousins. Anamali was much older than Himangshu. When Himangshu was a baby, Banamali carried him around in the garden to enjoy the morning or evening air; he played with him, lulled him to sleep; indeed he did everything grown-up person is supposed to do to entertain a child. He was not educated; he liked to garden, or be with his young cousin. Age seemed no barrier between them. As Himangshu grew up, their friendship also grew up. Himangshu would share the knowledge he acquired through reading with his old friend. He had a strong desire for knowledge. Himangshu also loved gardening. But there was a difference between the two friends. Banamali loved it with his heart, whereas Himanghsu with his intelligence. At four o’clock when Himangshu returned from school both the friends would assemble on the small cement patio in the garden which separated their houses. Then Himangshu talked, and Banamali listened quietly. Days went on like this.

Meanwhile a dispute had arisen as to the ownership of a lime tree, which grew on the drainage ditch that separated their lands. Banamali’s father Harachandra and Himangshu’s father Gokulchandra went to the court for the ownership of the ditch. Finally the verdict came from the court that the ditch was Harachandra’s and no one else had claim to the fruit of the lime tree. There was great rejoicing in Harachandra’s house since they won the case. But Banamali appeared sad on the patio in the garden. The time of their meeting elapsed but Himangshu did not turn up. In the evening when the lamps were lit he went to Himangshu’s house. He was sent away by Gokulchandra telling that there was no one at home. He went back to the garden and sat mutely. Finally the lamps of Himangshu’s house were put out one by one as the night grew. The next day he went again and sat in the garden, hoping that Himangshu might come. He never supposed that the tie between them would be cut off. Every day that week, he went on sitting in the garden at his usual time, in case Himangshu chanced to come. But Himangshu did not turn up. Tagore narrates thus: “When Fate had taken each of the seven days from Monday to Sunday away from Banamali, leaving no day on which to pin his hopes, he turned his tearful eyes towards Himangshu’s shuttered house, appealed to its from the depths of his distress, ‘Dear God’, he cried, gathering all his life’s pain into the words” (Selected Short Stories 69). Through this story Tagore wanted to tell the readers that sincere friendship and love are bound to perish in a society where capitalistic relationship exists.


Works Cited

Bandyopadhyay, Asit. “Rabindranath Tagore: Novelist, Short Story Writer and Essayist.” Studies on Rabindranath Tagore. Vol. I. Ed. Mohit K. Ray. New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers and Distributors, 2004. 47-70. Print.

Basu, Sankar. Chekhov and Tagore:  A Comparative Study of their Short Stories.    New Delhi: Sterling Publications Private Limited, 1985. Print.

Chaudhuri, Sukanta, ed. Rabindranath Tagore: Selected Short Stories. The Oxford Tagore Translations. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2000. Print.

Dodd, E. F. Tales from Tagore. Madras: Macmillan and Co. Limited, 1966. Print.

Ghosh, Tapobrata. Introduction. Trans. Sukunta Chaudhuri. Rabindranath Tagore: Selected Short Stories. The Oxford Tagore Translations. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2000. 1-29. Print.

Iyengar, Srinivasa. Rabindranath Tagore: A Critical Introduction. New Delhi: Sterling Publications Private Limited, 1987. Print.

Tagore, Rabindranath. Selected Short Stories. Trans. William Radice. London:  Penguin, 1994. Print.













Male Protagonists of Rabindranath Tagore’s Short Stories:

Helpless Victims of Bourgeios Society

Dr. K. V. Dominic



Rabindranath Tagore, the Noble laureate poet is also an internationally acclaimed short story writer. He has written nearly one hundred short stories. Pathos is a dominant feature of Tagore’s short stories. Women and children as protagonists in Tagore’s stories capture more sympathy, respect and love from the readers than the male protagonists. His male protagonists are either helpless or victims of the bourgeois society they live in. There are six short stories of Tagore with male protagonists that are anyalysed in this paper. They are: “Kabuliwallah,” “Little Master’s Return,” “Ramkanai’s Folly,” “The Renunciation,” “A Single Night” and “The Divide.”  (99 words)



















I, Dr. K. V. Dominic, do hereby declare that my paper “Male Protagonists of Rabindranath Tagore’s Short Stories: Products of Patriarchal Society” is original and unpublished.


Dr. K. V. Dominic,

Secretary, GIEWEC


Thodupuzha East, Kerala

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