This excellent short story reflects the true poverty faced by so many in rural India in the form of the backwater where the postmaster, himself a young man coming from Calcutta, has his first job. The narrator tells the reader that the postmaster felt like a "fish out of water" in his new location and mention is made of the very strict notion of class that is so much a part of India in the following quote, where the exclusion the postmaster feels is commented upon:
The indigo agents and employees had hardly any spare time, and were not suitable company for an educated man. Or rather, his Calcutta background made him a bad mixer--in an unfamiliar place he was either arrogant or ill-at-ease.
Indian society therefore is one that is depicted as being hopelessly bound by issues such as caste and class, and this prevents the postmaster from integrating into his new situation and context. Even the curious friendship that he forms with Ratan is very much based on his own terms, and it is important to note that in his response to Ratan when she asks if he can take her with him when he leaves, he "saw no need to explain to the girl why the idea was impossible," and only laughs at the impossibility of the notion. India is thus presented as a location where notions of class and status create insurmountable barriers that cannot be breached, and although the postmaster has "philosophy" that he is able to use to console himself, the rural poor such as Ratan have no such luxury, and is left with her "poor, unthinking human heart" that leaves her very much the worse off.