What was the socio- economic background of West Bengal when 'The Postmaster ' was written??

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

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The socio- economic condition of West Bengal was similar to what was featured in the story.  There was Calcutta as the sprawling urban metropolis, and there was the rural world.  Calcutta represented the urban realm where wealth existed.  Land owners called the Zamindars lived in Calcutta.  The landscape of Calcutta was in stark contrast to the life of the rural settings that somehow were filtered into the metropolis.  This can actually be seen in Tagore’s short story.  Whereas the villages, like Ulapur, featured natural settings where “the leaves were trembling in the trees,” Calcutta was the realm where “the sky was blocked out by rows of tall buildings.”  This reflects the socio- economic of West Bengal as dictated by those with wealth, who lived in Calcutta, and those without it, who lived in places like Ulapur.  It makes sense that the socio- economic background of West Bengal is brought out in the relationship between the Postmaster and Ratan.  He is the Zamindar- like figure, and she is the one who refers to him as “Dadababu,” a term of respect that someone on the lower end of wealth and prestige would use to refer someone higher than them.  It is here where Tagore might be making a materialist observation, an idea even more profound when we consider the ending and where Tagore’s loyalties might lie.

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