In the novel A Tiger for Malgudi by R.K Narayan, the story is told from an animal’s perspective. This tale explores life with humans from the animal’s perspective. It’s an interesting twist...

In the novel A Tiger for Malgudi by R.K Narayan, the story is told from an animal’s perspective. This tale explores life with humans from the animal’s perspective. It’s an interesting twist on post colonial literature that we started with an animal, instead of another individual being dehumanized and depicted as an animal. 

Can Raja, the tiger, be easily be classified as an “other,” just due to the fact that he is something other than human?

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Rasipuram Krishnaswami Narayan's 1983 novel, A Tiger for Malgudi, is part of a group of novels set in the city of Malgudi, a fictionalized version of Narayan's home town of Mysore. In a sense, part of Narayan's purpose as a writer in this series of works is to create a composite view of the town by offering the reader multiple narratives and perspectives through which to understand it. In part, it responds to the 1973 Project Tiger initiative to conserve India tigers and create tiger reserves, which exist in two National Parks near Mysore.

Often tales and histories are constructed by "insiders," by people in power whose narratives serve as part of a dominant ideology. Narayan, especially due to his background as an investigative journalist, is interested in giving voice to the stories of the outsiders, and those not in power.

The tiger in the story counts as an outsider in many ways. Like other oppressed individuals or groups (for example, dalits and women in most of India in 1983), the tiger has no official standing or power. The tiger habitat is annexed by the city without consulting the tigers and tigers are an endangered species in India. Thus they count as "other" or "outsiders" in terms of being distant from the centers of human power. Like other outsiders, they are what could be termed a "visible minority"; there is no way you could mistake a tiger for a rich human businessman on the street. Humans, whether conservationists or hunters, do not consult tigers but make decisions for tigers, just as happens to disempowered minorities. 

The sannyasi, who has renounced power and wealth and is a sort of voluntary outsider, is the only person in the tale who treats the tiger as an equal, but their life exists outside the normal power structures of Mysore society. 

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