Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard

by Kiran Desai

Start Free Trial

What is the role of the spy in Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard?

Quick answer:

The spy is an excellent comic creation, and the fact that he is the first character to be introduced in the novel serves to make him instantly memorable. He is also a tragic figure, but one who takes a different route to Sampath when it comes to escape his dissatisfaction with his life.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The spy is a very interesting character to examine in this excellent novel. Primarily, he is a figure who is used for great comic value, as his obsession with finding out the secret to Kulfi's feasts drives him, ironically, to become one of the centre dishes, as he positions himself directly above her boiling cauldron with the intention of gaining a sample from it to test, only to fall into it himself when the branch snaps.

However, whilst he is a figure of fun, at the same time, there is an obvious parallel between the spy and Sampath. Note how this is established in the following quotation:

He hated his job as a teacher in the public school, hated the boys who drew unflattering portraits of him in their notebooks and pulled faces behind his back. Often he gave them exercises to do and escaped to the staff room, where he sat staring out of the window and smoking cigarettes.

The spy, just like Sampath had been, is trapped in a job that he hates and that he wants to escape. The difference between Sampath and the spy is that the spy wants to escape this through gaining glory thanks to his discovery of what is really going on with Sampath. Uncovering some deception or fraud, the spy hopes, will gain him the success and recognition that he deserves. It is this ardent zeal for discovery and for success that drives the spy to his rather unfortunate culinary demise. The importance of the spy therefore lies in his presentation as another character who is extremely dissatisfied with his life, but who takes a very different route to try and escape this dissatisfaction.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial