Ratan: Character Analysis in The Novel Coolie

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      Though Ratan is a minor character in the novel, he has vital human forces to defend the weak from the high handedness of the oppressors. He is a senior worker in the Sir George White Textile Mill in Bombay and in his charge Munoo is learning the work of running the machine. He is a man of about thirty with a handsome round face and broken ears like a wrestler. He is also known as wrestler among his colleagues. He is very helpful and co-operative person. He helps Hari Har, his wife and Munoo when their houses are washed away by the heavy rains and brings them over to his place and arranges shelter for them. He protects Hari and the other coolies from the bullying foreman and the Pathan guards, who extract whatever money they can from the starving workers by way of commissions, interest, loans etc.

      Ratan’s character is marked by a strong sense of self-respect and freedom. He does not tolerate the insulting behavior of the English foreman in the factory. The foreman deducts the wages of every worker on some excuse or the other but he does not cut even a single penny out of the wages of Ratan, for he was afraid of him. He has a sense of loyalty towards the workers. He threatens the foreman that he has no right to beat the mill employees. At one place he tells the foreman, ‘Go back to your bungalow or I will break your head’. This shows his firm determination, courage and self-respect. He is a very popular man, and when he is dismissed from the job, a large number of coolies came to see him and sympathise with him.

      They stage a strike against the atrocities of the authorities of the mill and for the safeguards against the rights of the employees. Ratan had good friendship with Munoo. The friendship between them grew as the friendship can grow between two Punjabi’s alone. One day Ratan takes the boy to the red light area to the saloon of Piari Jan, and they are entertained by the songs and dances of two young and beautiful girls. But Munoo was not at all pleased with the show and came back frustrated. But Ratan never tried to mislead him. Instead he always thought of the well-being of Munoo and his other colleagues.

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