The Man-Eater of Malgudi has been interpreted in two different ways: as an allegory of good and evil, and as a study in identification and displacement. Readings of the work as an allegory focus on the relationship between the narrator Nataraj, the passive and well-meaning printer of the town of Malgudi, and Vasu, the eccentric taxidermist and out-of-towner who forces his way into Nataraj's attic and uses it to house himself and practice his seemingly grisly profession. In the allegorical view, Narayan represents Indian passivity while Vasu embodies the aggressive forces of modernism poised to threaten and destabilize Indian society. Certainly, Vasu unsettles the whole community and seems to overwhelm everyone with his brusque personality and antisocial tendencies. This version of the plot of The Man-Eater of Malgudi derives credibility from the mythological underpinnings of the narrative: Vasu is cast in the novel as a rakshasha, one of the demons who challenges the gods and introduces chaos into existence. Specifically, Nataraj's assistant, Sastri, characterizes Vasu as Bhasmasura, a demon in Hindu myths who blights everything he touches, defies the heavens, and makes ordinary human beings suffer. In the end, however, Bhasmasura overreaches himself and self-destructs — an example of pride that inevitably leads to a fall. In the novel itself, Vasu frightens everyone in Malgudi, disrupts the lives of its citizens, and attempts to obstruct its...
(The entire section is 361 words.)
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