The Character of Raju in The Novel The Guide

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      The Guide as in most of his novels is Malgudi a fictional town in Southern India. The novel is told through a series of flashbacks.

      Raju the central character grows up near the railway station and becomes a shopkeeper and then a resourceful tourist guide. He meets Rosie a beautiful dancer, and her husband whom Raju nicknames Marco, because the man dresses in a thick jacket and helmet as if undertaking an expedition like Marco Polo. Marco a scholar and anthropologist, who is more interested in his research then in his young wife Rosie.

Raju the central character grows up near the railway station and becomes a shopkeeper and then a resourceful tourist guide. He meets Rosie a beautiful dancer, and her husband whom Raju nicknames Marco, because the man dresses in a thick jacket and helmet as if undertaking an expedition like Marco Polo. Marco a scholar and anthropologist, who is more interested in his research then in his young wife Rosie.
(Railway) Raju in The Guide

      Rosie and Marco engage Raju service as a tourist guide, and he takes them sightseeing. She wants to see a king cobra dancing; Marco want to study cave paintings. Rosie and Marco quarrel constantly and Marco remains cool and aloof toward Rosie. While Marco is away studying cave paintings Raju who falls in love with Rosie. When Marco discover that Raju and Rosie have become lovers Marco abandons her and returns to Madras.

      Raju becomes infatuated with Rosie. He is obsessed with Rosie that he forgot his business, falls into debt and loses his shop at the railway station. He also lose his mother's respect because he is loving with a married woman. Raju's mother moves out of their house and the house is claimed to pay off his debts.

      Raju encourages Rosie to resume her career as a dancer, and becomes her manager launching her on a successful career as an interpreter of of Bharatanatyam, the classical dance of India. But he spends money extravagantly, and is tricked by Marco into forging Rosie's signature for a package of her jewelries a mistake that earns him a two-year year prison sentence.

      On his release from prison Raju stops to return near an abundant temple, where a villager named Velan mistakes him for a holy man. Raju does not want to return in disgrace to his friends in Malgudi and reluctantly decides to play the part of a holy man. He is happy to except the daily offering of food which the villagers bring to him. Gradually accepts the role which has been thrust upon him and he acts as spiritual advisor to the village community, a typical Indian society portraits in The Guide.

      Raju is content with the arrangement until a drought occurs, and to save face he has to take up a 12 day fast. As a great crowd gathers to watch him during his ordeal, he begins to believe in the role he has created. He has taken on an unselfish task not for love or money for the first time in his life. Despite grave danger to his health he continues to fast until he collapses. His legs sag down as he feels that the rain is falling in the hills. The ending of the novel leaves unanswered the question of whether he dies or whether the drought has really ended.

      The central theme of the novel is the transformation of Raju from his role as a tour guide to that of a spiritual guide. The title of the novel The Guide has a double meaning and Raju is in a sense of double character. As a tour guide and lover he is impulsive, unprincipled and self indulgent. After his imprisonment and after his transformation as a holy man he is careful, thoughtful and self disciplined.

      The novel also tells two stories that of Raju relationship with Rosie and that of Raju's relationship with villages as a holy man. The novel begins with Raju sitting beside the temple and meeting the villager named Velan who mistakes him for a holy man. The novel then alternates between an account of Raju's career as a holy man which is told in the third person and Raju's account to Velan of his previous career as a tour guide and lover, which is told in the first person. This dualism reflects the dualism in Raju's character he is transformed from a sinner to a saint, though he is never truly sinner and never truly a saint. Because of his capacity for empathy Raju is a sympathetic character throughout the novel.

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