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How does "The Postmaster" reflect on Indian society?

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shambhavi-thakur | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted February 9, 2012 at 10:07 PM via web

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How does "The Postmaster" reflect on Indian society?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 24, 2013 at 3:20 AM (Answer #1)

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One way in which the story reflects on Indian society is in the idea of someone being on its periphery.  Despite the leaps in technology and in telecommunications that has transformed India over the last decade or two, there is still social ostracizing.  Whether this is with those who are poor, or individuals who might not fit socially acceptable standards, there are people and groups of people in Indian society that are on the "outside looking in."  Ratan is that. She is an orphan in Ulapur.  She is relegated to the social periphery.  Her love of the postmaster is that he actually enables her to feel somewhat validated.  She ends the story back to her position of social relegation, being cast out again in a world where she is the proverbial outsider.

This condition reflects another aspect of Indian society.  If there is an outsider element, then someone must be in the position of allowing this to happen.  In Indian society today, there is much in way of apathy.  So many are consumed with material success, a drive to be a "topper," or to be accepted by social standards that those on the outside are not even really acknowledged.  It is seen in the amount of people who sleep on the streets and are passed by without hesitation.  It is evident in the children who beg for anything in the scalding heat and are rebuked with insults, or worse, with silence.  Someone is rationalizing this condition of sadness and simply accepting it as reality without doing anything about it.  Certainly, the postmaster's reaction to Ratan's broken heart reflects such a condition of being.  The postmaster thinks about how she sad she must be, almost as if he hears it from the ground swelling up from beneath.  He reflects on this, but then waxes philosophical about this condition of being and simply uses rationalization to dismiss it.  The postmaster is able to use intellectual thought to discard Ratan because his life is improving as he is going back home.  This is reflective of Indian society, on the move to the highest of heights without regarding if everyone is joining them on their ascent upwards.

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