The Tiger in the Tunnel Questions and Answers
by Ruskin Bond

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How did Baldev become a hero to Tembu in "The Tiger in the Tunnel" by Ruskin Bond?

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Ruskin Bond’s short story “The Tiger in the Tunnel,” takes place in a part of the world the author knows well—the jungles of India. India is a land of many cultures, climates, languages, and religions, and Bond has extensive knowledge of this ancient and complex land. Born in 1934 to English parents who lived and worked in India, Bond has a deep love for his homeland and has won many Indian literary prizes for his writing.

“The Tiger in the Tunnel” takes place in a forest village. The climax of the story involves a human encounter with a powerful predator. Tigers have a history of posing real danger in India, where human settlement on the edges of wild land has led to many unfortunate encounters.

Baldeo is a father who works hard to take care of his family—a wife, young daughter, and twelve-year-old son, Tembu. Not only does Baldeo work in the rice fields, but he is also a night watchman for the railway. His job involves making sure a signal light stays lit and signaling the mail train to let the driver know that there are not any obstructions in the tunnel. Tembu sometimes accompanies his father on this job, and he not only keeps his father company but also learns how the work is done.

One night, the stealthy man-eating tiger feared by the villagers makes an appearance and attacks Baldeo. Wielding a small but effective axe crafted and passed down by his own father, Baldeo defends himself skillfully, but he is no match for the powerful beast. Baldeo dies in the course of duty—providing for his family and carrying out his responsibilities to the village and to society at large.

It may be argued that Baldeo’s brave death makes him a hero to his son, Tembu. However, I think that what makes a parent a hero to a child begins with the daily care, strength, love, and good example he or she sets. We see from the courageous way that his family carried on with confidence and grace after his death that Baldeo was a hero long before the tiger took his life.

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