How does "The Postmaster" reveal a quest for love and security of an orphan village girl?

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

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In my mind, Ratan is the heroine of Tagore's short story.  The story does revolve around her quest for love and security in a setting where this is not present for her.  The postmaster might be the title and he might be considered as the protagonist, but I think that her quest is of central importance to the story.  The fact that she is introduced as an orphan who cleans the postmaster's house "in return for a little food" is the beginning of her quest.  As the story unfolds, she begins to occupy greater importance.  Tagore introduces her as an orphan, someone who is rejected, for the most pat, in the village, and someone who has little, if any prospects, outside of serving her "dadababu."  It is here where her character emerges as one who becomes physically and emotionally close to the postmaster.  We see this at several different points of the narrative.  When the postmaster talks about his sister or mother, she appropriates them as her own, using personal pronouns to reflect the connection.  She tends to him when he is sick, learns to read and write because he teaches her, and strives to belong. He is looking to get out of the village.  However, Tagore constructs her character as believing that the postmaster's entry into the village is her shot, her chance, at love, security, and belonging.  It is for this reason why she is taken aback when he tells her that he is leaving and asks him to take her with him.  In the end, she is rejected, but her desire or quest for love and security is not over, as she tends to his bath, the day after he has rejected her.  The ending is where we see that her quest is not over, even though the postmaster seems to think it is.  Recognizing that he is gone and with it much in way of her desire to find love and security, Tagore develops her character as one who continues to wander near the post office, hoping with some vague hope that he will return.  The ending reflects that she still believes, with her "snares of delusion," that he will return, confirming that her quest for love and security goes on, endures, and will never die.

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