How do you see the train as a character in the book Train to Pakistan by Khushwant Singh?

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amrutha-harish's profile pic

amrutha-harish | Student | eNotes Newbie

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The train as a character takes the role of a personality who is calm, controlled and with inhuman feelings. The fact that thousands of people were slaughtered and multilated in the train, and blood poured from the rooftops, did not hinder the functioning of the train. The train is powerless on its own, its master being the stationmasters and the driver. It can be referred to as a character with no rights or freedom, with no joy, hope or sorrow. The people who occupy the train are the ones who seem to give personality to the train. Their laughter, hope and joy gives the train a feeling of human characteristics, while their death, fear and silence gives the train the look of a ghost, one with no feelings and who spreads fear into the hearts of people.

The train is a mechanical character, robotic. It is the emotions and perspective(outlook) of people regarding the train that changes the 'character' of the train- a character that brings hope or a character that brings terror.

krishna-agrawala's profile pic

krishna-agrawala | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

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I read the novel Train to Pakistan by Khushwant Singh about 40 years back. That is too long back to remember in detail, how Khushwant Singh describes the train. But I do remember this much that the particular train, from which the the novel takes its title, features only towards the end of the novel. And even then the focus is on the hopes, fears, and fate of the people, using the trains as one of the means of escaping the horror of communal violence that erupted between Hindus and Muslims during partition of undivided India in India and Pakistan.

If I try to visualize the train as a character I can only think of it as some one who is witnessing the attempts of people to flee to safety, and their success or failure to do so. It can also be seen as someone trying to help the people to flee, but in spite of being brave and physically strong is rendered quite powerless do much.

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