Assess the characterization of Moorthy in Kanthapura?

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Moorthy, the central protagonist of Raja Rao’s novel, is an embodiment of the spirit of Gandhi. He is a “quiet, generous, serene, deferent” college drop-out, who becomes the torch-bearer of Gandhian ideals for the village of Kanthapura.

He derives spiritual strength from a vision of the Mahatma, to build a movement that challenges the hierarchical caste system and the stigma of untouchability. He is a staunch supporter of the Swadeshi Movement, one of the earliest socio-economic campaigns organized by Gandhi to promote the development of the indigenous textile industry. He perseveres to restructure people’s attitudes and motivates them to unite for a humane social order based on freedom, justice, and equity.

Moorthy understands that religious beliefs play an important role in how one views the world. He maneuvers the religious sentiments of the people towards a nationalist cause. Towards the end of the story, he becomes a supporter of the more pragmatic Nehru philosophy. However, he continues to remain loyal to the Gandhian doctrine.

Mahatma Gandhi's charismatic personality had an enormous influence on the author Raja Rao. It is quite likely that Moorthy is a stand-in for Rao.

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Rao's characterization of Moorthy is one of a force of change.  When one assesses the characterization offered, one sees how the force of change is evident in the story.  Moorthy is the Gandhian in the story.  He is characterized as the fundamental and changing force of history.  In assessing his characterization, Rao is quite open about how Moorthy is seen as the force of change.  Moorthy is the character that challenges the villages presuppositions and ideas about hierarchy.  Moorthy is the character that inspires the women in the village to embrace change.  Moorthy is the character that does not relent in his beliefs, even when force and abuse because of them are evident.  It is here where I think that Rao's characterization of Moorthy is compelling.  It is one in which it becomes clear that Rao recognizes the force of change present in India and understands how to appropriate it in his characterization.  The manner in which Rao depicts this change is how he is able to make clear the compelling and convincing nature of Gandhian change in both urban and rural settings.

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