How is "The Tiger in the Tunnel" the story of an ordinary watchman showing extraordinary courage while performing his duties?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Baldeo must work as a signalman for the railroad in order to supplement his income because his rice farm does not produce enough income for his family.

The station, a small shack backed by heavy jungle, is a station in name only; for trains only stopped there, if at all, for a few seconds before entering the deep cutting that led to the tunnel. Most trains merely slowed down before taking the sharp curve, and did not really stop. Baleo's job is to signal whether or not the tunnel is free of any obstruction. It is also his duty to see that a lamp always burns and that the mail passed safely through the tunnel. 

Baldeo has his axe with him, an axe that he is quite skilled in using. For, he lives where there are wild panthers and even tigers who live in the nearby forests. 

He prided himself in his skill in wielding it against wild animals. He had killed a young boar with it once and the family had feasted on the flesh for three days.

However, on this night he hears something that causes him to stop: It is the frightened cry of a barking deer, followed by a crashing sound. This sound makes Baldeo hurry and he lights the oil lamp. He returns to his position and walks down the tunnel in order to be sure the passage is clear. Then he returns to his position to wait for the mail train. But, he hears a low grunt, a grunt that only a tiger could make. The tiger approaches and has his big paw ready to tear the man apart. But, Baldeo is ready for him. He sticks his ax in the tiger's shoulder. Unfortunately, the ax sticks in this shoulder and the big animal kills Baldeo when he no longer has a weapon.

The injured tiger licks his wounded leg as the train approaches. But he has nowhere to go and is mowed down by the train. At the next station, the engineer slows down, then stops to water his train. It is then that he finds the body of the tiger cut in half by the train.

Now his son does the man's job, but he has no worries because his courageous father has killed the tiger, and he now he has the deadly axe in his possession.

thetall eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Baldeo was an ordinary man who worked hard to sustain his family. He was the head of a rice-farming family. However, the rice fields did not produce enough for his family's upkeep. This situation forced him to take on extra work as a watchman for the railroad company. He was expected to ensure the signal lamp was not extinguished and that a nearby train track tunnel was not obstructed. Every night he would leave his home for his post, armed with an axe.

On one particular night, Baldeo was joined by his son Tembu at the railroad post. He later left his son at the post as he went out for the routine inspection of the railroad. While performing his duties, a tiger appeared and started to approach him slowly. Baldeo, in a show of extraordinary courage, decided to stand his ground and face the attacking tiger. He skillfully wielded his axe against the beast, but finally succumbed to the tiger’s attacks after he lost his weapon.

Baldeo may have been an ordinary man, but he displayed considerable courage when he was faced with a serious threat.

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The Tiger in the Tunnel

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