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What is the thematic significance of the line " the lamp flickered weakly" in "The...

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sweetrinky | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) Honors

Posted June 30, 2012 at 7:49 AM via web

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What is the thematic significance of the line " the lamp flickered weakly" in "The Postmaster" by Rabindranath Tagore?

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

Posted June 30, 2012 at 11:16 AM (Answer #1)

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The thematic significance of the flickering lamp brings out the vulnerability and sense of frailty that encompasses Ratan at a specific moment.  This is a state of being that had always been intrinsic to her identity prior to the postmaster's arrival in Ulapur.  Throughout their relationship, Ratan felt the flame that represents her own "lamp" as gaining strength. Yet, the internal lamp within her began to flicker weakly as the postmaster announces to her his intent to leave her.  The feelings of abandonment and neglect that had been a part of her orphaned existence begin to emerge, helping to construct a reality in her own sense of self that flickers weakly, similar to the lamp.  The context of the line helps to bring out how light is faint, and how the slightest of natural conditions can contribute to its own weakened state.  It is in here where Tagore thematically links nature to subjectivity, in describing the physical condition around Ratan and the internal condition within her.  This is going to be visited in the closing paragraph of the short story when the postmaster himself will experience something of the natural setting that will mirror the sense of pain and forlornness that he, for a moment, associates with Ratan, the woman whose heart he has broken and whose heart he has caused to "flicker weakly."

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