Saadat Hasan Manto

Start Free Trial

Analyze Saadat Hasan Manto's writing style.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Sadaat Hasan Manto is known for his short stories, essays, and radio plays, and his writing style tends to be straightforward, even blunt, and concise, yet he brings his characters and settings to life through realistic descriptions. While Manto does not waste words, he presents his characters' internal experiences and their external effects in sometimes stunning detail.

To illustrate Manto's writing style, let's look at his story "Toba Tek Singh." There is nothing flowery or wordy about this story. It begins with a simple paragraph that is almost journalistic in flavor and describes the situation in its starkness. The lunatics (notice the blunt but accurate word) will be partitioned along with the countries of India and Pakistan.

The story goes on to describe the reactions of these lunatics, who cannot understand what is going on or why it is happening. Manto gives us a glimpse into their conversations and thoughts. He uses irony and humor as well as he describes the illiterate guards and ineffectual newspapers as well as the inmate who climbs a tree to escape the partition. His descriptions are simple yet vivid and even poignant as he helps us see what is really happening in the minds of these inmates.

When Manto describes Bishan Singh, he gives us a sample of his speech (which is nonsense) but also shows us what he is thinking and how he acts. His descriptions are simple and direct yet detailed enough to make us able to picture Bishan Singh.

Manto's distinct style is especially evident at the end of the story. In only a few words, he describes Singh's death. "Just before sunrise" sets the scene. Manto provides a contrast with the reminder of Singh standing "on his legs for fifteen years" and then collapsing on the ground with a scream. It is over just that quickly, yet we see the event in our minds as it takes place. There, in between Pakistan and India, lies this man on a small "bit of earth which had no name." Just that phrase alone reveals Manto's concise yet meaningful style.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on