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Can you give me the summary of the story 'The Postmaster' ?Please

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geetjojan | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 26, 2009 at 2:23 AM via web

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Can you give me the summary of the story 'The Postmaster' ?

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kc4u | College Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted September 26, 2009 at 7:11 PM (Answer #1)

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Tagore's story is a very touching account of longing, companionship & separation. A young postmaster hails from the city to join the newly-founded post-office in a remote village. He feels lonely without company and without much work to do. A village girl, Ratan, helps him in domestic chores; he shares his meals with her; tells her about his relations away in the city and about his sad longings. When the postmaster falls sick, it is Ratan who takes care of him. The postmaster takes the trouble of teaching Ratan, and she comes closer to the elderbrotherly postmaster.However, the village doesn't suit the postmaster who applies for transfer on health grounds. His application is rejected, and the postmaster then decides to resign from the service to go back to the city. As the new postmaster comes, it is time for Ratan's 'dada'[elder brother] to depart by a boat. Ratan wants the postmaster to take her with him, but her prayer is not granted. The postmaster wants to give her some money which she refuses to accept. As the boat leaves the village, Ratan stands with tears streaming down her eyes, her strong hope to depend upon a relationship being broken.

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nitishshah10 | Student, Grade 9 | Honors

Posted August 17, 2012 at 6:03 AM (Answer #4)

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In the small village of Ulapur, an Englishman who owns an indigo factory near it manages to get a post office established. A postmaster from Calcutta gets separated from his family and transferred to this village. From the noise of the city, he comes to a deserted village with just scattered glimpses of people. Tagore, a lover of nature, uses it to describe the surroundings. The postmaster's office has a green, slimy pond, surrounded by dense vegetation. The way he describes this shows that postmaster is not in a position to appreciate his closeness to nature. There are three central themes to this story. Firstly, the story revolves around 'longing and separation'; starting and ending with this. The postmaster is taken away from his family and brought to a remote village. He was in a village, where its busy people were no company, and he was left with not much work to do. He tries to pacify his longing emotions by writing poetry. However, the fact that he tries to write something external to him, like nature, makes it an impossible venture. An orphan girl of the village, Ratan, helps him with his daily chores. He speaks to her about his mother and sister in the evenings, and would keep enquiring about her family. He would speak with sadness of all those "memories which were always haunting him". Secondly, 'companionship', and thirdly 'dependency' can be seen through how the relationship between the postmaster and Ratan grows through the course of this story. Ratan did not have many memories of her family to be recalled. There were only fragments, like pictures, of her father coming home in the evening, and her little brother whom she played with, fishing on the edge of the pond. Once she met the postmaster, 'Dada', she spent her days with him. She would sit outside his shed, being only a call away from him, and doing all the small chores. Dada would share his meals with her. Then in the evenings, she would listen to him talking about his relatives and in imagination make them her own. Tagore translates the longing ringing in Dada's heart to nature, when he says, "A persistent bird repeated all the afternoon the burden of its one complaint in Nature's audience chamber." A man, who initially failed his attempt at verse, thinks of this as parallel to his emotions. Poetry is something that comes from the inner overflow of emotions. He hopes for the presence of a loving human being he could hold close to his heart. The postmaster can't stand the quietude of Ulapur. He longs for the noises of traffic and life in Calcutta. One evening, he tells Ratan that he is going to teach her to read. She grows closer to him. She sees him as her only relative. She grows dependent. But, as the season's rain seemed like it would never end, like the constant patter on the roof, Dada was troubled by his heart's exile. He falls sick in his solitude. Ratan takes care of him, and he recovers just taking her presence for granted. But, he then decides that he has to leave this village. He writes an application of transfer, based on the unhealthiness of the village. The transfer is rejected. He tells Ratan that he has resigned and will be leaving the village. She asks him to take her with him. He thinks of it as an absurd idea and she is haunted by his reaction.

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praveenm | Student, Grade 11 | Honors

Posted February 20, 2012 at 11:39 PM (Answer #2)

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Tagore's work Postmaster is a good story as it touches our heart at the end. Postmaster is a man who born in the city and is well attached to the city life. he gets his job as a postmaster in a very poor village village. he donot like that job there he finds the Ratan. she helps him in his domestic works. she took care him as a mother when he falls ill. he finally left that village. he left her there itself.this story reflects the status of women in the indian society.

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keinjsingh | Student, Grade 9 | Honors

Posted May 18, 2012 at 1:05 PM (Answer #3)

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In the small village of Ulapur, an Englishman who owns an indigo factory near it manages to get a post office established. A postmaster from Calcutta gets separated from his family and transferred to this village. From the noise of the city, he comes to a deserted village with just scattered glimpses of people. 
An orphan girl of the village, Ratan, helps him with his daily chores. He speaks to her about his mother and sister in the evenings, and would keep enquiring about her family. He would speak with sadness of all those "memories which were always haunting him".
The postmaster can't stand the quietude of Ulapur. He longs for the noises of traffic and life in Calcutta. 
One evening, he tells Ratan that he is going to teach her to read. She grows closer to him. She sees him as her only relative. She grows dependent. He tells Ratan that he has resigned and will be leaving the village. She asks him to take her with him. He thinks of it as an absurd idea and she is haunted by his reaction. Next morning, she fills a bucket of water for him. He bathes and waits for the next postmaster to arrive

He consoles Ratan saying that he would inform the postmaster about her. He even offers her some money to keep. She refuses both and expresses that she doesn't want to stay there any more. 
Ratan has lived a life of loneliness. Dada was her only companion, and the only one who seemed to understand her. She is broken, when he has to leave without her. 
He leaves as soon, as the new postmaster arrives. He hesitates for a moment as the boat leaves, but it is too late for him to take her with him. Tagore illustrates the two ways a human mind works. The postmaster uses the element of philosophy to console himself. He tells himself that meeting, attachment, and departing are all part of life. It will all settle with the passage of time. The wind that fills the sails of the boat indicates the reason the postmaster fills his heart with, as he separates himself from the village. 
However, Ratan stands outside the office "with tears streaming from her eyes." She has succumbed to a common human folly, as Tagore expresses, of hope. She has been separated from her only bond and now longs for it to return. Tagore ends by saying that humans often fall into hope than seeing the reason, and long before we realize, disappointment becomes too hard to handle. 

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maheshdholiya | College Teacher | eNoter

Posted February 10, 2014 at 6:23 PM (Answer #5)

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Love has the uncanny ability to ensnare unsuspecting men and women, bringing them in close proximity in the most unusual circumstances, and then letting an incongruous spark doing the rest!

Something similar happens in Rabindranath Tagore’s short story ‘The Postmaster’, where a young Calcutta boy is posted in an obscure, small village, Ulapur. The village is populated with Indigo agents and employees, who neither had time nor inclination to mix up with an arrogant, moody, sombre educated man!

Forced to eke out a solitary living and desperate for human company, he opens his heart to the only avid listener available, an orphan girl, about twelve or thirteen years of age, named Ratan. She is an unlucky girl, standing alone at the threshold of youth, with no possibility of marriage or a friendly alliance.

Ratan does housework and odd jobs for the Postmaster, in return of a little food. And, as her work demands her to remain in close vicinity of the young Babu, they soon develop a comfortable companionship, feeling at ease with each other, slipping into casual conversation, sharing details about their respective families, and some heartfelt emotions, thus slowly developing a strange yet intimate relationship.

But, as in Tagore’s typical style, none of them shows any inclination towards external show of emotions or delve on the physical aspect of their close liaison. In fact, till the very end, it remains unknown whether their feelings were indeed love or just a passing infatuation or even a platonic affection misinterpreted as romantic mooring! The story ends ambiguously, with longing and separation ruling the roost.

However, despite its sombre end, I liked the story for its irony. Here, the author tries to bring together two individuals, who have nothing in common. One is a pedantic city boy, the other an illiterate village belle. One feels romantic on seeing green leaves, is stirred by beauty of the moon, while the other believes love is equivalent to caring for a sick man, and dutifully serving your lover. The relationship is flawed from the very beginning. It is doomed to fail, yet it grips both the protagonists in a strange bond till the very end.

Further, the story prominently focuses on a very well established aspect of love. Man and woman interpret it in different manner. A man craves for company and is happy to find it in any form, a beloved, a friend or even a servile dependent. But a woman can never be reckless in finding love. She is by nature monogamous and gets emotionally involved with her partner in a way that she is ready to negate her very existence for her lover. But, man likes to remain a free bird, and at the very first sight of a bond, flies away.

In a way, Ratan is in the wrong end from the very beginning. She is just a victim of destiny, which played havoc with her life, by making her an orphan. And, when she has abandoned all hopes of being married, fate brings her face to face with a man, she admires and falls in love with.

On the other hand, the Postmaster is a man lost in thoughts. He considers himself aloof and poetic, but actually he has just been forced to be the kind of man, he comes across as. In other circumstances, he would be quite a different person, for whom Ratan would have no meaning at all.

In a nutshell, The Postmaster is essentially the expression of those unsolved mysteries, those unanswerable queries, those tough dilemmas, we all encounter at certain point of our lives. A hesitation to owe your feelings often result in a permanent loss. The story could have ended happily, if only the protagonists could have been a little honest each other. However, much remains unsaid in this psuedo romantic tale, ending in separation and longing.

Here, Love is explored in a very different way, minus all the sweet nothings. Tagore in his signature humane style, acted out a heavenly drama on the hard earthy plane. The story is short, crisp, at times funny and mostly sombre. But more than anything, I liked the ironical and satirical tone, which made the story readable and entertaining.

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