Explain the closing lines to Tagore's short story, "The Postmaster."  

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The ending lines to Tagore’s short story are really powerful.  Recall the ending.  The postmaster leaves Ratan, who has pled her desire to be with him.  As he leaves, he tries to offer her money, which she steadfastly refuses and flees in tears.   The postmaster feels a bit of regret, quickly rationalized away by his understanding that essentially, “life goes on.”  Yet, Tagore’s ending shows Ratan wandering around the village, clinging to hope that the postmaster, her “Dadababu,” will return.  Although an orphan, she never leaves the village for this hope.  It is with this as a preface that Tagore launches into his analysis about the pathetic and sad state of human beings.   Tagore argues that there is mounting evidence, “the weightiest of proofs,”  in consciousness of pain and suffering, human beings “cling with both arms” to hope, to the belief that there is some respite to this pain that exists in our state of being in the world.  The “snares of delusion” are those ideas that compel us to continue to believe despite all the pain and suffering that surrounds us as human beings.

Tagore writes from personal experience on the suffering that he says exists with “the weightiest of proofs.”  Tagore experienced so much in way of death and loss in his life, starting with his mother as a teen, and continuing on with the deaths of his wife of 20 years, two children, and his father all in the span of less than a decade.  Despite such loss, Tagore does not stop writing and accepting a political responsibility to argue for Indian independence from the British.  Certainly, his political activism in the face of such personal pain would represent the very essence of the “snares of delusion” that bind consciousness.

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