The Postmaster -Summary

Topics: Marriage, Love, India Pages: 6 (2023 words) Published: October 13, 2012
  Summary of “The Postmaster”1: Rabindranath Tagore’s short story, “The Postmaster” centers around a young postmaster named Dadababu. Dadababu has been transferred from Calcutta to a small Indian village, Ulapur, for a position as postmaster. He finds himself feeling very lonely and unable to relate to the factory workers around him. Conversation and companionship comes to Dadababu in the form of a young servant girl names Ratan. In an attempt to appease his loneliness Dadababu tells the girl stories about his distant family and even begins teaching her to read. Ratan quickly becomes attached to Dadababu and develops strong, seemingly romantic feelings for him. When Dadababu unexpectedly falls ill Ratan does not leave his bedside. However, Dadababu does not view Ratan in the same way. As soon as he recovers from sickness, Dadababu requests a transfer out of Ulapur. When his petition is denied, Dadababu simply resigns and informs Ratan of his departure. Ratan is extremely upset and asks Dadababu to take her with him. He finds her question absurd and denies her request. Ratan is left depressed and grieving. With only a passing thought of Ratan’s grief, Dadababu boards a ship and is quickly engrossed in thoughts of business. Tagore’s “The Postmaster”: Exploring Cultural Miscommunication Within A Society Growing up in the midst of Britain’s colonization of India, Rabindranath Tagore experienced the rapid pace at which a society can change. Much of Tagore’s writing deals with the issue of a changing society and its political, economic, and cultural implications. The introduction of Western ideals within India resulted in a blending of Indian and British cultures. This cultural intermingling often caused a miscommunication between not only the British and Indian people, but amongst Indians themselves. The influx of a non-native people brought an entirely new culture to India. While some Indians only partially assimilated Western tradition into their culture, others completely adopted the British’s ideals. There were also many Indians who adamantly resisted any British influence, thus creating divisions within Indian society. The concept of tradition became varied; while some strictly adhered to ancient rules and customs, others found it beneficial to reform or even rid of certain cultural practices. Many of Tagore’s stories reflect the miscommunication that occurred between those within the rapidly transforming society of India. In his short story, “The Postmaster,” Tagore’s main focus is the misunderstanding that often existed between Indians due to the various ways in which they were affected by their changing environment. While the story takes place within a colonial context, its main function is not as an allegory for colonialism. Britain’s colonization, and the subsequent introduction of Western ideals, simply enhanced or expedited the country’s transformation. The mention of a “British manager” within the story’s setting of the small, Indian village of Ulapur, immediately sets the story within colonized India (Tagore 42). The British have successfully moved into the country and set up factories with which to expand their economy, and consequently, their culture. It is the “British manager [who] had…established a new post office,” and therefore supplied the job that brought Dadababu to Ulapur. This simply positions colonialism as the source of the change that launches the story into action. It places the piece within a colonial context, yet does not introduce any significant claim for or against colonialism. In “The Postmaster,” Tagore is specifically concerned with India’s traditional marriage customs. The interaction of the characters Dadababu and Ratan exhibits the misunderstanding that often arose between native Indians as a result of divergent views on tradition. It is the difference in the emotions that Dadababu and Ratan have for each other that presents the central point of the story. Throughout the story, the...
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