Assess the validity of the following statement: "The closing paragraph of  'The Postmaster' brings forth the entire theme of the story."

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

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The last sentences of the story bring out how Ratan’s desire to wait for the postmaster is motivated by the uniquely human condition of embracing “the snares of delusion” that exist within the heart.  I think that Tagore is a bit more complex than to simply feature the entire themes of the story within the closing paragraph.  However, it would be fair to suggest that the philosophical rumination in the last paragaph is significant to the thematic development of the story.  Tagore makes it clear in the last paragraph that the breaking of hearts and pain caused by human beings upon human beings are a part of being in the world, a theme that is significant to the short story.  The ending of the story, the closing paragraph, brings out how there is this “great, inarticulate, universal sorrow” plagues the postmaster, something compelling him to experience a “sharp” desire to return to her.  Yet, this momentary feeling is rationalized.  The postmaster reflects that consciousness is defined by “many separations” and “many deaths.”  There would be little point in returning because separation is the natural order of things.  The last paragraph brings this out, but it would not be fully illuminated if the interaction between the postmaster and Ratan had not already been explored throughout the story.  The closing paragraph helps to bring out how rationalization and rational thought is used to conceal the reality of how pain and cruelty are intrinsic parts to the human condition.  Yet, in the end, these elements are not fully understood without the conceptions brought forth throughout the short story, such as his reaction to her when she asks to go with him, or how their connections forged throughout the narrative are so quickly severed at the end of the narrative.  The last paragraph helps to bring this out into a thematic understanding, but the entire theme of the story is revealed and fully articulated as the story has progressed within it, and not merely in the last paragraph.


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