Short Questions & Answers of R. K. Narayan The Guide

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Q. 1. Write a short note on the theme of the novel The Guide

      Ans. The general theme of the novel is man’s commonness in an uncommon world. The novelist has tried to show how insignificant the man is before the forces of Nature, Fate and society. At the same time he has tried to present his major theme on the stature of morals that immorality and over commercialization of man do pay in the long run and are responsible for his downfall? But the novel has a mixture of themes. Romance, and reality, materialism and spiritualism, greed and detachment, possessiveness and sacrifice, marriage and sex, art and scholarship, roguery and sainthood, ignorance and scholarship, the rural and the urban, the true and false, have been blended together: as the themes of the novel. An important feature of the novel is that all these themes of the novel are fused and blended so artistically in one rope that no thread seems to hang out distinctly: they are not in contrast or opposition to each other. Some critics further suggest that Malgudi is the theme of the novel. Another minor theme of the novel is Rosie herself. To conclude, the novel is a compromise between didactic and aesthetic values from the thematic point of view.

Q. 2. Write a short note on the treatment of love, sex and marriage in The Guide.

      Ans. Love and sex 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 over commercialization. The pattern of love is framed between the wife of another man and the stranger in the form of a railway guide. Later on love in the novels of R. K. Narayan gets drowned in the social values and issues. There is even corrosion of love which is due to the perversion of values in Raju. Though a realist, R. K. Narayan does not deal with sex in a naked manner. 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 is dancer), they, lack mutual understanding. All love, sex, and marriage are treated by Narayan very realistically. Besides it, the novelist’s treatment of love, sex and marriage is purely Indian. A little modern touch is allowed by the novelist by allowing Marco and Rosie living seperately and by uniting Rosie and her lover Raju temporarily. Raju represents the contemporary young men of India. R. K. Narayan has tried to unite the modern and the traditional views on lover, sex and marriage in the novel The Guide.

Q. 3. Write a short note on the realism in The Guide.

      Ans. An important feature of the realism of The Guide is the selectability of facts. Realism has been alloyed with romance. Marco has been presented very realistically. He is very particular about the vouchers but is not particular about his wife’s interest and hobbies. His scholarship and his research in the caves, his behaviour with his wife and his treatment of Raju are also realistic. In the end he gets a kind of sadistic pleasure in sending his wife’s lover to jail. The picture of Raju, both as a lover of Raju and an accepted Swami is realistic. Raju is somewhat a realistic and practical man. Contemporary references to railways, urbanization, opening of postal services in the village, all are proofs of the realism of the novel. The childhood of Raju has been described with realistic touch. The scenes of Marco Rosie and Raju Rosie relations have been described with realism. The characters in the novel have been described realistically. Not only in the events but also in the characters there is a touch of realism. The novelist’s strength also lies in his realistic and impressive language. In his scenes of village as well as urban life the novelist is not only realistic but also true and faithful.

Q. 4. Write a short note on the irony in The Guide.

      Ans. Narayan is a master of irony. He uses irony on the level of character, situation and ideas and his total view is of reality. In his comic mode of presentation, he uses irony as his major technique. But his irony is hardly ever bitter but it is sweet and genial. In the novel the characters get the same as they reject. Released from the jail Raju wanted to hide his face and live obscure life, circumstances conspired so much against him that he was but in the lime light. In the first part of the novel he did not believe in God and religion, but in the last part of his life he himself becomes a religious soul. There is a great deal of irony in the contrast of two characters, Mareo and Raju, the scholar and the guide. Marco is an intellectual, a pure scholar like Rosie who is a pure dancer. He has raised Rosie in physical comforts and worldly pleasures. He has raised Rosie’s status by marrying her. He has taken a bold step in doing so. He knows that Rosie has committed immoral act yet he Remains cool and after a great deal of thought leaves her. The tragic irony is that the ordinary mortals of Malgudi aspire to reach the peak of success, forgetting the actuality of their situations.

Q. 5. Write a short note on the popularity of the novel The Guide.

      Ans. The Guide is one of the most popular novels of R. K. Narayan. It is also a flash of Indo-Anglian fiction. It first appeared in 1958 and was recognised As a great novel in all over the world. Since then it has gone into more than fifteen reprints and about one lakh copies if it have been sold so far. It has been translated into French, Dutch, German, Polish, Swedish, Russian, Hebrew and in several Indian languages. The novel fetched for its writer Sahitya Akademi Award in 1961. Furthermore it has been filmed very successfully. Late Vijay Anand, a great personality of Indian Cinema became highly famous because of his praise worthy direction of this film in which Dev Anand and Vahida Rahman did the roles of Raju and Rosie respectively. Because of strong roles of Raju and Rosie, both Dev and Vaheeda are still remembered and respected in Indian Cinema. S. C. Harrese points out in this regard, “The Guide is one of Narayan’s best and best known works. It is also the first novel in English to have won the Sahitya Akademi Award, and a popular but deplorable film version of it has been made. The Guide shows that the novelist’s comedy is both profoundly Indian because it is firmly focused on the social and cultural tradition,”

Q. 6. Write a short note on the plot and technique of The Guide.

      Ans. The plot of The Guide has been split into three episodes or phases 1. Raju as a railway man or tourist guide, 2. Raju as an impresario and 3. Raju as a pseudo saint. In the second episode he is swept away by a hurricane of passions in the second ‘all passions spent calm of mind.’ But the split in the plot has been unified by the present past method and the hero’s interest in the events. As mentioned by Prof. Iyengar; Technically; The Guide is an advance on the earlier novels; the present and the past are cunningly jumbled to produce an impression of suspense and anticipation. The novelist’s technique is successful in unifying different episodes. This has been so successful because of his yoking together the past and the present. It is a hybrid technique. The technique is simple but the setting of the episodes is not so simple. The back stage life of Raju has a dramatic effect. There is a technical control over the material of the novel. Narayan executes things with the sense of a high technique. Various scenes, events and people have been well managed. The novel is free from big explosions and extremes of emotions. The death sentence awarded to the hero is the most interesting part of the story. It has been arranged very nicely, and keeps suspense intact.

Q. 7. Write a short note on the social spirit of the novel The Guide.

      Ans. The novel is neither a social chronicle nor a piece of social criticism. Narayan is neither a society critic nor a social reformer. In this respect he is different from Dickens, Anand or Prem Chand. His novels are free from propaganda. He touches upon the social spirit in The Guide in order to be realistic in his background and locale of the novel. It is in this sense that there are references to contemporary social problems of poverty, cheating, greed, marriage and sek The novelist keeps on scrutinising the social temper of the time while working as an artist. The behaviour of the community receives his full attention. There are small issues of the social nature in the novel as well. For instance, the corporal punishment by the teachers, the superficial glory of the bureaucrats, the lack of teachers in the villages, the problem of maladjustment in marriage the problem of parental authority and rebellion of the young, and many other issues have been highlighted by the novelist. The changing social life of the lime is a sort of historical document in the novel. The traditions are in the flux. The life of the lawyers has been presented in a satirical manner. Even the life of jail has been depicted by the novelist.

Q. 8. Write a short note on the characterization of The Guide.

      Ans. The characterization in the novel is of a fine order. There are very few characters in the novel. The hero is present throughout the novel, but the heroine is present only upto the half of the novel and is absent during the hero’s last phase of life. There are only three women in the novel, Rosie, Raju’s mother, and a girl from Mangala village who does not wish to marry but later on agrees to marry the boy chosen by her father after the miraculous effect of Raju, the Swami. Rosie’s character is not only very lively but also very fascinating and charming. The novelist describes her sometimes very minutely. All the major characters are composed of tragic element. But the novelist has wonderful control over his characters. The principles of ‘Karma’ permeate the life of the characters. The destiny of the hero has been shaped in accordance with the principle of poetic justice. A wrong-doer must meet the punishment he deserves. The novelist does not deal with the inner lives of his characters, he is free from the psychological moorings of the modern novelists. It is only in the case of Rosie that he touches upon the psychological depths. 

Q. 9. Write a short note on the comic element in the novel The Guide.

      Ans. The Guide is a passive comedy. In it laughter and tears, humour and pathos go together. The total image of the novel is neither white nor black but grey. There is a tragic element in the lives of Raju, Rosie and Marco, none of them gets permanent peace or happiness. However the comic element in the novel has been edged with the sharpness of tragedy. It exists in the second phase of the life of the hero. The way Velan behaves with the hero, raising him to the heights of Mahatma, has the concealed comic touch about him. The Raju-Rosie episode, on the other hand, is of the sober temperament. There is also verbal humour occasionally. The comic element is quite subdued. The novel is a tragic blend of romance and realism. On the other hand there is in the novel warm Rosie and Raju’s romance with her, on the other hand there is sordid realism of the poor people who are drought and famine-striken. The romance is perfect in the spirit of its irresponsibility. Action does not disturb thought, imagination soars high but soon it comes on the surface of earth.

Q. 10. “Rural India has been interpreted through the life of the people of Mangala village of Velon.” Discuss.

      Ans. The Guide is a true social picture of India, specially of the villages of South India. The rural India has been painted in the life of the people of Mangala village on the Sarayu River. Raju goes there and stays in a shrine on the river bank and is mistaken by the villagers as a holyman. To them a convict becomes a saint because of their ignorance, superstition and poverty. The rural India is full of Velan's who are a gullible lot. India’s agriculture mainly depends on the monsoon. This has been shown by the novelist by Raju’s fast. The poor villagers think that rains can come by fasting of the holy men like Raju. The village fends and passions of the villagers too have been depicted. During the drought the village shopkeeper raises the price believing in profiteering. The villagers take direct action against him. They do not see any reason. They fight out their case like mad people. The rural folk of India are a herd of simpletons and can be exploited by the self-styled saints easily. Women come and worship the self styled holy men. He receives gifts and food from the villagers. The snake charmer and the sight of a cobra also provide the novel a district touch of rural India.

Q. 11. Write a short note on The Guide as a novel of social contents.

      Ans. R. K. Narayan’s main purpose of writing is to present a true and faithful picture of Indian society. In The Guide the social values go on changing at the individual as well as group level. Individually Raju and Gaffur change on account of urbanization and modernization of Malgudi and the life of Malgudi in general changes with the arrival of the Railway in the town. Thus both the individuals and the society change due urbanisation, westernisation and modernisation. The villagers go on passing their lives in the old rut of superstition and ignorance. The novelist has taken up the problem of the gullible masses steeped in superstitions, the problem of hypocrite saints who go on cheating a vast populace of India, the problem of ignorance, of mad adjustment in marriage, of guilt and sin. The changing traditional life of India is seen in the case of Raju’s mother; she does not like her son’s ways and the rift is caused between them of Rosie’s entry in their house as a mistress of Raju. The problem of love, marriage, and sex is also a vital social problem, has been elaborately incorporated in the novel. But the purpose of the novelist is not to offer solutions but to show the weaknesses of society. The evils of litigation have been pointed out by the novelist. To a great extent the novel is a socio-moral novel.

Q. 12. The Guide is an economic interpretation of the life of the Indians. Discuss.

      Ans. R. K. Narayan 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. The picture of Indian masses, with all their attending poverty, has been shown in the crowds gathering about Raju. 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. Velon is not free from it. He brings to Raju only those gifts which are home grown. Food is a big problem to Raju as it is to the millions of India. There are several groups of characters in the novel, and on the basis of their economy they can be categorized as the poor villagers, the low shopkeepers, the low wage earners, Guide, and low workers. These characters give us art idea of different sort of people. The pitiable condition of the villagers is shown because of drought. The poor shopkeepers are unable to hoard wealth and cannot educate their children. Raju remains uneducated because of his father’s poor economic condition.

Q. 13. Show how far Rosie and Marco are representatives of solitude life?

      Ans. Solitude is one of the important themes in the novel The Guide, though it cannot be taken as the main theme. It is only a sub-theme insofar as all the characters in the novel pass a certain period of solitude in their life. Raju’s mother is separated from her son and longs to see him until her death. Raju passes the last phase of life in solitude as a sadhu. Marco and Rosie are the main solitudes in the novel. Both Marco and Rosie are cases of extreme type,’ if Marco was whole-heartedly devoted to scholastic pursuits, Rosie was wholly devoted to dancing. In their life sex had no place. They are abstractions of their ambitions. Both Marco and Rosie were honest about their feelings. Marco was secretaire but was straight-forward in his dealings. He liked honesty, efficiency, and hated treachery and narrow outlook. He gave full freedom to Rosie and never questioned her movements till she proved to be physically disloyal to him. Thus both the characters, Rosie and Marco have to pass through a span of solitude. Rosie and Marco were cursed to live separately, but so was-Raju to live his isolated life in the shrine on the bank of the Saryu.

Q. 14. The Guide is a story of man who declines society by passing for a spiritual man? Discuss.

      Ans. R. K. Narayan’s novel The Guide is a story of a man who deceives society by passing for a spiritual man. It can be compared in this respect with Bhabani Bhattacharyai’s He Who Rides a Tiger. In both the novels, the man is carried away his deception until a point conies when it is difficult to undo the enormous life. But the superficial similarity hide a very fundamental difference. Another act that confirms Raju’s career as a Sadhu is his establishment of a night school in the temple. The school becomes the centre around which the village people gather every evening to listen to Raju’s discourses and story tellings. As a result of this and in excessive zeal his disciples stop bringing him all food. This has an ironic side to it. The sainthood that Raju has created out of his deception ultimately transcends his control and obliterates his former self. The theme gains its strength through repetition because earlier, in the Rosie episode, the same pattern has been established. A critic comments,” The Guide and He Who Rides a Tiger both deal with men whose holiness is a convenient disguise but in both-these novels the men undergo such transformation that the fraud ceases to be a fraud.”

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