Treatment of Love, Sexuality and Marriage in The Guide

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1. Pattern of Love is Adultery

      Love and sexuality form a significant part in the story and theme of the novel, The Guide. In the beginning it is Rosie’s aura that captures the attention of Raju and of the readers, and continues for a pretty long time until the love between Rosie and Raju disintegrates due to Raju’s overcommercialization. The pattern of love is framed between the wife of another man and the stranger in the form of the railway guide. The woman is painted as a ‘serpent-woman’ who is fond of a cobra—a king cobra and enjoys its dance with active imitation. She proves to be a serpent who stings not only her husband but also Raju and would bite any other young man in the same manner. No one escapes from her sting. Rosie is spiritually mature, like maya. She is the daughter of a Devdasi, but she is glamour embodied. She represents the West, and through her the novelist has tried to show how unfit she is for the East. With all her liberalism and independent mind she is no where: she is neither a pure artist nor a pure woman nor an ideal wife. Just like Raju she too is commercialized and forgets that real art lies in its concealment and silent worship, and not in its commercialization and publicity. She is a girl of modern stuff.

2. Love Drowned in Social Issues

      Love in the novels of R.K. Narayan gets drowned in the social issues. The repercussions of illegitimate love soon follow, and slowly and gradually the emotion is over-ridden by the external facts of life. There is even corrosion of love which is due to the perversion of values in Raju. 

3. No Naked Treatment of Sex

      Though a realist, R.K. Narayan does not deal with sexuality in a naked manner. He shuts the doors, and like a true Indian, in accordance with the tradition of his country, does not allow the world to view an act of sex. In The Guide, we have only the natural impact of sex, not that violent sex which fills some of the pages of the modern novels like Lolita, Sons and Lovers, Liza of Lambeth, Cakes and Ale, Lady Chatterly's Lover, etc. The heroine Rosie has a certain sex appeal which sets the hero on the love track. Sex is reduced to a mere companionship in the novel, disappoints those who look in for some psychological or physical habits. Mere submission to the hero is not enough; the heroine is seen only at one place giving a passionate hug to Raju. To Maugham and Lawrence sex and beauty may be like flame and fire, but to R.K. Narayan they are the double-edged swords. In The Guide, it is sex and illicit love which is responsible for the downfall and moral degradation of the hero. The novelist mates the characters reap the wages of sin.

4. A Radical View of Marriage

      As regards marriage, the novelist has taken a radical view of the subject. Though both Marco and Rosie are artists (one is a writer and the other a dancer), they lack mutual understanding. When the husband comes to know of his wife’s infidelity he leaves her there. Marriage is social institution which should naturally frown at the trespassing elements. This is the novelist’s view. The husband at the end has triumphant moment in seeing the seducer of his wife being clapped into prison.

5. Realistic Treatment of Love, Sex and Marriage

      All love, sexuality and marriage are treated by Narayan realistically. Love rises and falls. Like an illicit love it is full of passion and initiative on the part of hero. He plays the cards well in putting Rosie under his debt which facilitates the task of completing the game. After the passion is over we have a sort of pathos, a sort of anticlimax.

6. Indian Outlook

      The novelist’s treatment of love, sexuality and marriage is purely Indian. A little modern touch is allowed by the novelist by letting Marco and Rosie living separately and by uniting Rosie and her lover Raju temporarily. The novelist in the beginning tries to show how dependent the Indian woman is on man. But at last she can stand on her feet if she has the will and determination like Rosie. The novelist has tried to show men and women as equals. A woman is not a gadget by any chance. She is replete with desires and a spirit. If Rosie is driven to the arms of Raju, it is partly not her fault but the fault of her husband who is cold and unresponsive to the demands of a young wife. He perhaps married Rosie not out of physical necessity and social obligation but to oblige her by giving her a status. He has challenged womanhood, and having once been challenged, the woman rises and raises her head like a serpent.

7. Raju, a Representative of the Contemporary Young Men of India

      Raju represents the spirit of the contemporary young men of India. They have no regard for traditional morals. He flouts loyalties for the security of the self. He is not going to be measured by the old traditional values. He would not be in a rut which is trudged by many a fooled married person. If a woman matters for a man, he will have it, though he may have to seduce her from the arms of a husband. He does it. But total fault is not Raju’s. Rosie is a ship nearing wreck. It had lost direction it is floating; it needs a shore or a port. It finds in Raju an easy port. It is Raju’s sympathy for Rosie’s predicament that turns into love.

8. Fusion of the Modern and the Traditional Outlooks

      R.K. Narayan has tried to unite the modern and the traditional views on love, sexuality and marriage in his novel, The Guide. He has not propounded any thesis or philosophy. He has left the choice and the conclusion to the readers to choose as they please.

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