The Guide Questions and Answers
by R. K. Narayan

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What is picaresque structure? Right now I am reading Huck Finn and The Guide in school. One of the prompts involves picaresque structure. How is it employed in both works?

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The structure of the picaresque novel or play is one in which a “slave” or lowly servant gets an opportunity to act on his native intelligence to save or help his master, whose journey through life is full of adventures and scrapes, which the wily slave helps him overcome. Narayan’s Raju in The Guide, or Huck Finn has such a character (Jim), which is ancient in origin, going back to Aristophanes, Plautus and Terence, and Goldoni’s stage figure in “A Servant of Two Masters” as well as the Spanish tradition brought full-blown in Cervantes’ Don Quixote with Sancho Panza. and the title character in Lazarillo de Tormes (anonymous) (the word picaro, is Spanish for “rogue.”)  The structure calls for a master-servant relation based on class, which becomes a friendship between equals during the raucous adventures of the once-master, now the victim of his own folly and desire for adventure (usually involving travel to strange environments), rescued by the common sense of the lower character, now listened to and heeded.

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