What is the significance of the title "The Postmaster" by Rabindranath Tagore?

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

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I think that the significance of the title of Tagore's short story works on both literal and symbolic levels.  On one hand, the literal significance of the title reflects how life changed in the village, in particular for Ratan, once the Postmaster entered.  Ratan's life is forever changed by the presence of the postmaster.  To a large extent, we, as the reader, can assess this change through the postmaster's eyes, for we, like he, are new to the village and interpret much of it as he does.  This might be where the title holds some level of symbolic significance.  While we, as the reader, understand the village through his eyes, we slowly become more attune to Ratan, and while we initially understand consciousness through the postmaster, the real protagonist of the story might be Ratan.  There is a definite siding with the orphaned and abandoned Ratan in terms of her loyalty, her commitment to the postmaster, and her willingness to stgand with him through challenges and successes.  When the postmaster leaves the village and tries to rationalize away his abandoning of Ratan, like he, we as the reader experience a divided consciousness for we end the narrative, yet constantly wonder what will become of Ratan.  If we, as the reader, open with the postmaster, the title's significance is that we don't end with him, as we are more concerned with Ratan.  It is Tagore's genius that he is able to shift our sympathies without we, as the reader, being conscious of it.

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