What is the main theme of Malgudi Days?  

Expert Answers

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

The theme connecting R. K. Narayan ’s stories is nostalgia for bygone Indian small-town society. While the author presents challenges and conflicts that the residents of the town of Malgudi face, he primarily presents characters who are comfortable with the overall status quo. In this regard, fatalism can be considered...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

The theme connecting R. K. Narayan’s stories is nostalgia for bygone Indian small-town society. While the author presents challenges and conflicts that the residents of the town of Malgudi face, he primarily presents characters who are comfortable with the overall status quo. In this regard, fatalism can be considered a theme.

Subsidiary themes that link many stories are the importance of family and of religion. The stories’s characters have individual aspirations, many of which are thwarted, but they do not tackle the fundamentally unequal basis of the social and political system. Although Narayan also includes the seeds of rebellion that will later end colonial control, and the collection has a few stories set in post-independence times, the overall vision is of a lost way of life.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Malgudi Days is a collection of thirty-two short stories by R. K Narayan. Set against the backdrop of 19th century India, the stories depict the middle-class society in a comic-ironic mode. The master storyteller creates a mythical city in southern India so that he has the liberty to meddle with its geography. The inhabitants of Malgudi are talkative, easy-going, intellectual, and have a strong sense of identity.

The stories revolve around the life of a young boy, Swami and his motley crew of friends. Each story has a simple plot—their struggle with school, their insecurities, their triumphs, their frustrations, or their view of adults. The stories depict small-town intrigues and aspirations with simplicity and subtle humor.

On a simplistic level, the stories represent the daily humdrum of existence. Dig deep, and you will discover that the naivety is deceptive and deliberate. What lies beneath is a treasure trove of wisdom, knots of satire, the charm of human relationships, and the essence of semi-urban India.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles
It is a little harder with a collection of short stories than with a single novel, but I would say the theme is the futility of the daily grind, trying to be successful in a harsh world. Other themes might be the individual versus society. There is also the fragility of man.
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team