R.K. Narayan’s book, "A Tiger for Malgudi", is the tale of a tiger. Does this tale of the tiger serve as an excellent allegory of post/colonial India and its relationship with England, the...

R.K. Narayan’s book, "A Tiger for Malgudi", is the tale of a tiger. Does this tale of the tiger serve as an excellent allegory of post/colonial India and its relationship with England, the colonizer.

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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A Tiger for Malgudi by R. K. Narayan is indeed an excellent example of contemporary postcolonial literature, particularly in the realistic way that it portrays India as both victim and oppressor, with a postcolonial bureaucracy that both resisted and was complicit with British and Mughal imperialism. 

The tiger's life begins with freedom and sovereignty over its own dominion. It is at the top of the food chain, having no natural predators. The killing of its mate and cubs by humans, as the similar atrocities inflicted by colonizers on India, leads the tiger to become a rebel, engaging in guerrilla warfare, just as India did in resistance to the British. The tiger is deprived of its land and autonomy. Its circus training represents the imposition of British education on India, in which the tiger learns to abandon its own traditions and become subordinate to human society.

The final liberation of the tiger is achieved not by violence, but by the sannyasi, a figure who represents Gandhi and the tradition of nonviolent resistance. The sannyasi also, crucially, understands the tiger's language and traditions and respects them, and the eventual peace the tiger finds in the zoo, living his own life but in (circumscribed) harmony with humans, suggests the current role of India in the world, as one power among many, with its own traditions and ways of being, that has the opportunity to benefit from some aspects of western culture while retaining its own independence and cultural traditions. 

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