Saadat Hasan Manto

Start Free Trial

Analyze Manto's views on the partition between India and Pakistan in "Toba Tek Singh".

Quick answer:

In "Toba Tek Singh," Saadat Hasan Manto shows through his characters and their reactions how disturbing and ridiculous the partition between India and Pakistan is and how harmful its after effects can be.

Expert Answers

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

In his short story “Toba Tek Singh,” Saadat Hasan Manto makes his views on the partition between Hindustan (India) and Pakistan and its aftermath very clear. Manto believes the partition to be a ridiculous, unnecessary upheaval that only brings confusion and distress to people. He does not, of course, present these view directly. Rather, he illustrates them through his characters and their experiences.

Manto presents the partition and its effects through the eyes of lunatics in an insane asylum. These people simply cannot grasp what is going on. It makes no sense at all to them. One fellow, when someone asked him what Pakistan was, thought for a while and then responded, “The name of a place in India where cut-throat razors are manufactured.” In other words, Pakistan is a meaningless construction, which is what Manto seems to have thought.

Other inmates are so confused by the partition and by the orders that they must be moved to their proper area that they become even crazier than they were. One man ends up in a tree (he would rather live there than in India or Pakistan, he declares). Another takes off all his clothing and runs around naked. They simply cannot cope with the changes or the thought of leaving behind their friends. The whole thing makes no sense to them.

The story comes to a climax with an inmate named Bishan Singh, who is especially concerned about which side of the border his home village will be on. He cannot understand the reason for the partition, and to him, it seems like betrayal. What's more, no one seems to be able to tell him whether his town is in Pakistan or India. Eventually he learns that it is now in Pakistan and that his family (who are Sikhs) have already moved to India. He is to be transferred as well. But Bishan Singh takes his stand in the area between India and Pakistan, and there he stays. He will not move into India, and he dies right in that area where there is no label.

We can, therefore, infer Manto's perspective within the story. His characters are to be pitied, and he presents the partition as both unnecessary and confusing, upsetting and even potentially deadly. The people who are affected by it suffer because of it.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial