In "The Postmaster," what was the influence of society on the decision taken by the postmaster?

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

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I would say that the influence of society was pressing on the postmaster.  From the moment he landed in Ulapur, the postmaster seemed more inclined to wanting to leave it, returning the Calcutta and an almost romanticized vision of it in his own mind.  The social allure of Calcutta seemed to weigh heavily on the postmaster.  It becomes fully evident that even though that the postmaster was completely served and loyally worshipped by Ratan, this is not enough to make him stay.  He is quick to figuratively kick Ratan to the curb when his transferal comes through, almost to the point where he does not even really think about his decision when he makes it.  In some of the most cruel embodiment of the idea that "When you help someone, they succeed and move on," the postmaster is driven more by the allure of the social world of Calcutta and the social constructions that it represents more than any of the personal loyalty he owes to Ratan.  Finally, the ending of the short story reflects how much of a sponge the postmaster is to the influence of society.  When he leaves, he considers, if only for a moment, the excruciating pain of breaking Ratan's heart and the wounded emotional carcass that he has left behind in this action.  Yet, rather than accept responsibility for it and develop a statement that is his alone, he adopts a socially immune viewpoint in suggesting that such pain is the nature of the world, enabling the powers of rationalization to dull his sensibility of personal accountability.  It seems evident that by the end of the story, the influence of society is more pressing and more relevant to the postmaster than anything else.

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