Global Tales - Stories From Many Cultures
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Compare and contrast the two stories by R.K. Narayan. Which story do you prefer and why?
In all the stories and authors featured in ?Global Tales?, R.K. Narayan is the most respected and well-known author. From the short description of him at the end of the book, he created a space for himself called ?Malgudi? and developed his own characters, like a puppet master making his own puppets from cloth and giving them life when he does the show. His stories are universal, probably because the themes and characters of the stories are easy to identify with. He should be ninety-seven this year (year 2000). From what I know, his other books include ? Malgudi Days?, where ? An Astrologer?s Day? is taken from.
Narayan is a very observant man, sharp and sarcastic at the same time. His sarcasm become humour and it is not very obvious sometimes. We have to read between the lines to catch the joke. He is very descriptive in his writing and his world comes alive with the mood through the informative and colourful description, the characteristics and the internal thinkings of the characters, the suspense and the dialogues used. I especially admire the way he brings the story to a close, not too dramatic, yet satisfactory. Some writers often leave an unfinished ending where it is up to the reader to decide, treating this as their style and adding a sense of mystery to the story. However, these are sometimes the most horrible kind of ending, not only irritating, but also annoying. The ending is the element that wraps up the whole story, yet the writer left it out, like a jigsaw piece went missing. It is not a complete piece of writing. Lastly, I find R.K. Narayan to be naughty at times, from the way he phrased his sentence, and the sarcasm, but we like it.
In ? An Astrologer?s Day?, an astrologer meets a stranger and tells his fortune. Surprisingly, the ?fake? astrologer managed to tell what was true for the stranger. Then, it is only when the astrologer reveals his secret, did we know how his ?magic? worked.
We are brought into the world of the streets of India where there is little lighting but ?a bewildering cris-cross of light rays and moving shadows?. The in-depth description gives us the setting, which can be seen in our minds. Not only using the sense of sight and sound, Narayan also gives us the face of the astrologer with a forehead ?resplendent with sacred ash and vermilion?, having eyes that ? sparkled with a sharp abnormal gleam? and a ?painted forehead? and ?dark whiskers?, topping it off with a ?saffron-coloured turban?. The ?colourful? astrologer contrasts with its semi-dark surroundings, attracting the customers like ?bees are attracted to cosmos or dahlia stalks?. We should not only focus on plot, we should also focus on the setting too.
On the other hand, the introduction to ?Crime and Punishment? did not have the variety of colours as seen in ?An Astrologer?s Day?. ?Crime and Punishment?, a story about an impatient teacher who slapped his student on impulse, then was exploited by the child, resulting in an unexpected ending later.
In ?Crime and Punishment?, we do not get a detailed description, only a brief description about the boy as ? all dimples, smiles and sweetness----only wings lacking?. The nursery is mentioned but not in detail as compared to ?An Astrologer?s Day?. ?Crime and Punishment? focus more on character, in contrast to the focus on setting in ?An Astrologer?s Day?.
The moods are different in these two stories. In ? An Astrologer?s Day?, it is ?heavy? with mystery and amazement while in ?Crime and Punishment?; it is more relaxing and light. On similarities, humour and language of the two are evident.
For style, R.K. Narayan used humour and old language to bring out the unique element of the story. The story is mostly sarcastic and subtle, sometimes added with a pinch of irony, like ?when he told the person before him, ? In many ways, you are not getting the fullest results of your efforts,? nine out of ten were disposed to agree with him. Or he gave an