7. A Hero (R.K. Narayan) I. Introduction R.K. Narayan, perhaps the most popular Indo-Anglian writer, was born on 10 October 1906. He had his school education at Madras and Mysore and took his B.A. degree from Maharaja College, Mysore. He tried working as a school teacher and then as journalist. Later became a full-time writer. Slowly but steadily his reputation as a writer of fiction was established. R.K. Narayan has written several novels and a number of short stories. Most of his stories are set at an imaginary village called Malgudi. Among his famous works are 'Swami and Friends', 'Bachelor of Arts', 'Waiting for the Mahatma', 'The Guide', 'The Man-eater of Malgudi', . The Vendor of Sweets', A Painter of Signs', A Horse and Two Goats', 'An Astrologer's Day and other Stories', 'Malgudi Days', 'Under Banyan Tree' and the autobiographical 'My Days'. As a narrator of short stories, Narayan has few equals among Indian writers in English. II. Summary One night, Swami's father came across a news item in the news paper. It was about the bravery of a small boy who came face to face with a tiger in a jungle. The boy had a fight with the tiger and at last he , took shelter on a tree. The boy stayed there for half a day till some people came that way and killed the tiger. Father praised the boy's courage and wanted Swami to be a brave boy like the one who fought the tiger. He proposed that Swami should, sleep alone in the office room. Swami could not even think of it. He used to sleep beside his grandmother in the passage. He encased himself in the blanket beside his granny. But father was firm in his decision. He rolled up Swami's bed, took it under his arm and asked him to follow him. The boy was not allowed to have a lamp turning in the room. Father, wanted the boy to sleep in the dark because the boy should not be afraid of darkness. But he let the door be left open. The night got thick. The silence in the house deepened. He re¬membered all the stories of devils and ghosts he had heard in his life. He was faint with fear. Every moment he expected the devils to come up to carry him away. He was racked with nightmares. A tiger was chasing him. Then a devil came and Swami hugged with all his might and bit the crawling creature. The result was a thundering cry in agony and there was a heavy tumbling and falling amidst furniture. In a moment Father, cook, and a servant came in, carrying a light. They fell on the burglar. His ankle was bleeding. The burglar was a notorious house breaker of the district. The police and everyone in the school and the village congratulated Swami on his heroic deed. When father came back from the club that night he found Swami lying asleep beside his granny again. Mother did not want father to risk his life again. Swami was not asleep and he was greatly relieved to hear that his father was not disputing mother on his account. 2. Why do you think Father sought Swami's reaction to the news item? Father wanted to know whether Swami was as courageous as the lad in the story. So Father sought Swami's reaction to the news item. 3. 'Do you agree that 'courage is everything, strength and ages are not important'? Give reasons in support of your answer: We cannot agree with Father's opinion Courage without strength is preposterous. 4. What was the frightful proposition that Father had made? Father wanted Swami to prove that he had courage. So he asked the boy to sleep alone that night in his office room. 5. Why did Swami try to change the topic and start talking about the cricket club? Did he succeed in his attempt? Swami could not even think of sleeping in the office room. He wanted to change the subject and with this idea in his mind he started talking about the cricket club. As Father was very firm in his decision, Swami did not succeed in his attempt. 6. Do you think Father was justified in insisting that Swami should sleep alone in the office room? Why do you think so? No, Father was not justified in his decision. Swami was only a small boy who was afraid to sleep alone. 7. Why did Swami hate the newspaper which had printed the tiger's story? Swami felt cut off from humanity and he was pained and angry. His Father's command that he should sleep in the office room was caused by the newspaper report about the tiger's story. So he hated the newspaper which contained this report. 8. What were .the thoughts that Swami had while lying in the office room? 'Swami remembered all the stories of devils and ghosts he had heard in his life. His friend Mani had seen the devil in the banyan tree and Munisami's father spat blood because the devils near the river's 9. Why did Swami bite the foot of the burglar? After the nightmare of the tiger, he heard the footfalls of the devil. He realised that his end had come. As it came nearer 11e hugged it with all his might and gave a mortal bite on the burglar's ankle 10. What made Swami a hero? How did his classmates and others behave the next day? Swami's mortal bite on the burglar's ankle and the loud cry alerted the household and they caught the most notorious burglar of the district. This made Swami a hero, His classmates looked at him with respect and the headmaster said that he was a true scout. 11. What clever' thing did Swami do the next evening? How did Father react to it ? The next evening Swami went to bed at 7.30 beside his granny. Father said that he wanted to be asleep before he (Father) could return home. 11. What made Father give up Swami? Father thought Mother was pampering and spoiling the child. This made Father give up Swami. 13. Do you think this story could have happened in real life? Give reasons to support your view. This story could not have happened in real life. No sensible Father would ask his small child to sleep alone in the office room. VI. Essay Question with Answer Write a short essay of about 250 words on the following. 1. Describe the various tricks that Swami tried to avoid sleeping alone in the office. R.K. Narayan is a gifted writer. this writings have a deep insight into the children's psychology. 'A Hero' tells the story of a 2nd stan¬dard boy who is ordered by his rigid father to sleep alone in the office room. Father wanted to know whether his son was courageous enough to sleep alone away from his granny. All the ordeal started when Father happened to read in the newspaper the story of a young lad. The lad was on his way home by the jungle path. He came face to face with a tiger and had a fight with the ferocious animal. He was not match for the beast and hence he fled up a tree and stayed on their till some people came that way and killed the tiger. Having read this report Father looked fixedly at the boy and as him whether he was as courageous as the lad in the story. The replied that it was not the question of courage and it was the questions of strength and age. The lad in the story might be a grown up man, maintained. Father did not like this and asked him whether he prove his courage by sleeping alone in the office room. The boy terrified. He could not even think of such a proposition. He wants to avert such an eventuality at any cost. So he employed all the tric that any boy at age could visualize. First, the boy tried to divert Father's attention by changing subject. He talked about their cricket dub. They were going to ad even elders in their cricket dub thereafter. They were buying b new bats and balls. But father was not interested in the cricket dub their captain's proposal. He cut in and ordered that the boy should sleep alone thereafter. The boy knew that nobody could alter his their once he had taken a decision. So he suggested that he co sleep alone from the first of the following month. But father adamant. ' Swami rose silently and tip to ed away to his bed in the passage Granny asked him whether he wanted a story. Swami made gesticulations to silence his granny but she saw nothing. So S threw himself on his bed and pulled the blanket over his face. Gran again asked him if he was really very sleepy. Swami urged the g lady not to shout and let others know about his presence there. Said he would die if he didn't get a good sleep. "He turned overcooled, and snored under the blanket”. Father came and saw Swami lying in the hall. He asked the boy to get up. Father rolled up the bed, took it under his arm and asked t follow him. Swami threw a look of appeal at his mother. He once again requested Father to let him sleep in the hall. The reason he gave was that the office room was very dusty and there might be scorpions behind Father's law books. Father did not admit his re¬ quest. He also rejected Swami's request to let him keep a lamp burning in the room. In the night he had all sorts of horrible dreams. All the devils and ghosts that he had read of in story books and heard of from the elders came to his mind. He saw in his dream that the devil was coming to tear him up. The other dream was about the tiger that was coming to eat him up. Presently he saw something moving down. He thought it might be coming to eat him up. He had no time to waste. Mustering all his strength, he hugged the shape and 'used his teeth on it like a mortal weapon. There came a shrieking and somebody tumbled and fell amidst furniture. In a moment everyone in the house came to the spot and caught hold of the notorious burglar in the district. Everyone congratulated Swami for his bravery. When Father re¬turned home from the club that night, Swami was not there in the office room. He asked Mother where the boy was sleeping. She re¬ plied that he was sleeping in the hall beside granny. Father remarked that Swami wanted to go to bed before he returned from the club. Mother asked Father not to risk his life again. Father hesitatingly agreed saying that he might not be blamed if the boy was spoiled. Swami was not asleep. He had been following the whole conver¬sation from under the blanket and felt tremendously relieved to hear that his father was giving him up .
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