Different Economic Section of Life in The Novel The Guide

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      R. K. Narayan is unlike Mulk Raj Anand. He is not a socialist writer, nor does he write for propaganda. His primary intention is not to expose the poverty of India’s teeming millions. While recreating reality and dealing with the Indian situation because of the locale he chooses, economic conditions of the Indians get referred to. No conscious effort has been made by the novelist to deal with the economic problems of the country, for Narayan regards novel as a piece of art, not as a piece of propaganda or journalism.

      The picture of Indian masses, with all their attending poverty, has been shown in the crowds gathering about Raju. They are poor and uneducated. They are so poor that they do not have the advantage of education with the result that they are obliged to lead the life of superstition and ignorance coupled with misery. Velan is not free from it. He brings to Raju only those gifts which are homegrown. Food is a big problem to Raju as it is to the millions of India.

      There are several groups of characters in the novel The Guide, and on the basis of their economy they can be categorized as:

1. The poor villagers.
2. The low shop-keepers (e.g. Raju’s father)
3. The low wage earners (e.g. Gaffur)
4. Guides (e.g. Raju)
5. Low Workers (e.g. Joseph)
6. The money lenders (e.g. Seth)
7. Rich lawyers.
8. Rich owners of theatres and circus companies.
9. Aristocrats (e.g. Marco).

      These characters give us an idea of different sorts of people. The pitiable condition of the villagers is shown because of drought. Their agriculture, as a matter of fact, their whole life depends on water, and water is available only through rains, and rains through fasting. Despite the claims of a green revolution in India, there are still areas like village Mangala throughout the country which often see the tragedy of drought and famine due to lack of water. The villagers are without education because there are no schools and teachers for them in the villages.

      The poor shopkeepers are unable to hoard wealth and cannot educate their children. Raju remains uneducated because of his father’s poor economic condition. It is this poverty perhaps which makes him so greedy and money-minded in his life. Evils of money are also shown through the money lenders and through the life of Raju when he is successful as a manager of his dance company with Rosie. He becomes wealthy and starts drinking and gambling. His greed for money increases and he forges out Rosie’s signature. This is what happens with most moneyed people in India.

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