R. K. Narayan

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What is the irony in the story "Another Community" by R K Narayan?

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The chief irony in R. K. Narayan’s story “Another Community” is that the story’s protagonist, who fears a violent clash between the two main communities in his town, and who does everything he can think of to prevent such a clash, is the very person who accidentally sparks the violence that consumes his city. Another irony is that even after the accident has taken place and the violence has begun to break out, the main character wants to prevent the violence from escalating but is powerless to do so. Finally, another key irony of this story is that although the main character earlier feared the loss of others’ lives (including the lives of his wife and children), he loses his own life as a result of the accidental fight. Thus the story is ironic in multiple ways.

Further examples of irony include the following:

  • If the main character had not gone to work on the day on which violence had been anticipated, he would never have had the accident that precipitated the violence he so dreaded.
  • If the main character had not rushed to head home to assure himself of the safety of his wife and children, he might not have become involved in the accident that led to the outbreak of massive violence.
  • If the main character had not taken a unusual route home (so that he could arrive home more quickly), he might never have had the fateful (and ultimately fatal) accident.
  • The narrator of the tale insists at the very beginning of the story that he intends to keep the precise identity of the main character a secret, since his precise identity doesn’t really matter.  At the very end of the story, the precise identity of the main character – who has been violently killed in the aftermath of the accident – is only determined through the discovery of

the kerosene ration coupon in his breast pocket.

It seems ironic that it is a kerosene coupon, of all things, that he was carrying at the time of the accident, since the accident led to the whole town become figuratively inflamed.

  • Finally, one last bit of irony: even though the man’s identity is discovered by the police, neither his name nor anything else about him is ultimately revealed to the reader.


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