Lack Of Meaningful Relationship
The short story that I am about to discuss is a story I read. The main character of the story made me go through a wide range of emotions. At first, the main character appeared needy when he kept on referring to himself. Later on, as he continued to divulge more information, I started to feel empathy for him. However, I also felt that he was quite comic. It is clear that when one reads the story, he or she notices the protagonist’s lack of ambition. By reading the story, one also realizes that the protagonist has continuous expectations to be taken care of by his family. The story reveals a lack of meaningful relationship in our Westernized world and the issues that could arise from not having genuine relationships.
Ironically, the story begins with the main character bragging about himself. The narrator gives details of his appearance and helps the reader have a clear mental picture of his physique and beauty routine. He is pretty hilarious when he compares himself to Raj Kapoor's, a very handsome Indian movie star. Later, in paragraph fourteen, he measures his attractiveness with that of his brother. The narrator believes that he is a better-looking man. He admits that people are often attracted to him, and he often receives praises about his appearance. The narrator brags about his smell; he states that he uses a fine fragrance that is made from opium and he rubs it on his hair and mustache. The narrator states that his clothes are refined, freshly washed and shoulders of his kurtas are embroidered. The narrator’s obsession with his external appearance reveals that the modern world prefers to focus on external appearance rather than a person’s inner beauty. We are always judged first by our physical attributes and clothes rather than who we are as a person. Sadly, we tend to focus on wrong things and get sucked up in this materialistic world.
In the story, the narrator is an educated Indian man who can speak English and goes to a job interview. He lives with his whole family including his mother, wife, brother, sister-in-law, his children, and his brother’s children. He enjoys being surrounded by his family and is acutely aware that he needs a lot of care from the people he lives with. He enjoys being pampered, and he likes taking advantage of situations. On the very day of the interview, he despised the interviewing process and showed a little enthusiasm about the job. In his mind he thought, why did he need the job anyway? Everything is given to him, and life goes on smoothly for him. Instead, he left the office before being interviewed and decided to go for a stroll, watching people go about their business. While sitting on a bench, his mind wandered about the importance of life and what life would have been different. He pondered about the caste system in his society and came to a conclusion that there is no correlation with happiness. The narrator shows some signs of depression and regret but nothing significant enough that would make him change his way of life.
The main character has an interesting relationship with other characters in the book. The bonds the narrator shares with his family member revolve around his wishes and needs. In the story, the reader can clearly attest to the absence of meaningful and genuine relationships. For instance, the main character lacks a solid connection with his wife, and the wife lacks a solid connection with other women in the household. In paragraph six, it is revealed that the main character’s miserable wife has no one who honestly cares about her. Her husband is too selfish and doesn't see the reason to stand up for her. The narrator mentions twice that his wife is not intelligent and that she is the opposite of beautiful. Her sister-in-law takes advantage of her weak personality and gives her hard chores; she sometimes goes to the extent of beating her. The main character mentioned his disappointment after getting married to her. He wished that he could have gotten married to a woman who was prettier and more exciting than his wife. In paragraph two, the main character admits that he did slap his wife to please his mother. He is also aware that his family does not like his wife, he is deeply hurt, but he does nothing to change the situation. The wife sometimes dares to ask the main character to get a job. Her dream is to live somewhere alone with her husband and their children far from her husband’s relatives. However, she knows that such a thing would never happen because she is in a one-way relationship. The husband is not interested in moving out; he is comfortable living with his relatives.
Another significant relationship is between the narrator and his sister-in-law. He seems quite obsessed with her and enjoys all the attention he gets from her. The sister-in-law favors him and treats him better than her husband and children. She often gives extra tidbits and serves him just like his mother used to do. He thinks that she is the most beautiful person. He admires her breasts, her hips, and teeth. He wonders how soft her skin is under her silky blouse. He also fantasizes about having some sexual intercourse with her as revealed in paragraph twenty-five. He gets excited about the thought of being kind to her. Towards the end of the story, he is aware that she is not happy and doesn't care for her husband. He also mentions a few times that he wishes life could be different; maybe he wishes that the sister-in-law would have been his wife.
An important point in the story is to analyze the narrator opinions and feelings when he interacts with other classes within society. As we know, in India, there is a caste system which gives plenty of room for discrimination. On his way back from the interview, he sat on a bench next to two Sikhs who he considered of being in a lower class than him. The Sikhs were laughing and having fun, and it made him think that education and being superior does not necessarily guarantee happiness. When he thought happiness, he remembered his neighbor downstairs who was a carpenter and didn’t have much money yet his family kept on laughing, eating, dancing, and having people over their place. The neighbors seemed happier than his family that was rich. In paragraph twenty-four and twenty-five, the narrator comes to the realization that pursuit of happiness is not a matter of superiority but it’s about what one makes out of life.
Importance Of Human Relationship
Another relationship that is important to point out is one that involves the main character and his passion for going to the cinema. Seeing a movie for the narrator is an escape from reality because although he is taken care of and seems happy, on the inside, he is a sad man. A beautiful movie allows him to dream and get temporary happiness. Indian films are known to be filled with colors, music, dance and beautiful women. The movies usually celebrate life, and most of the time, love stories are told. The main character wishes he was an actor or could experience such happy feelings that he saw in the films. According to the main character, there was nothing pure around him and all his human relationships were selfish, only meant to benefit him. Human relationships are difficult, to begin with, but when a person is not willing to give their best, it seems impossible to experience anything real.
We may think that the main character lacks confidence and has a low self-esteem, but I do not agree. All his life, he has firmly believed that he deserves special treatment, ever since he was a young boy. One time during his childhood, his father took him to work, the work involved helping him pour lentils in metal tins. His mother, grandmother, aunts were so angry that he had to work. As a result, they showered him with hugs, kisses and rewarded him with a sweet pastry. On his way to the interview, he dared to arrive late and then left without being interview because he felt that the job was no good to him. The character thought that there was no need for him to work because he relies on his brother and he is not ashamed of it. He decided that he doesn't want to make it on his own, and he will never move out of his extended home. Suffice is to say that the main character is a spoilt person who is used to being pampered and as a result, is incapable of living independently.
The main character acknowledges that he lives a sad life in secret. The unhappiness of his wife at the end of paragraph twenty-five is mentioned but does little to change the main character’s approach to life. In paragraph twenty-six, the main character recognizes that there is a significant amount of unhappiness that surrounds him. Everyone seems incomplete, except his mother and life also seems incomplete. The main character wishes that his life was beautiful just like a movie. But wishing and wanting are two different things. He rather continues to fantasize about what life could be than making some real changes.
The story is a great reminder of society expectations and how a lack of meaningful relationships is deleterious to a person’s happiness. Individualism and selfishness make people forget about what is important and matters in life. We have become so much consumed with our self and what is superficial that we have forgotten about what truly matters in life- happiness. Profound and meaningful relationships can play a vital role in our life and can make us thrive as human beings. To grow, achieve goals and find purpose we need to surround ourselves with meaningful human relationships. Unfortunately, in the story, the main character lacks meaningful relationships and repercussions are evident, he is unhappy, and he will never be if nothing changes in his life!
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