Discuss where Rabindranath Tagore's Philosophy can be seen in "The Postmaster."

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that the ending of the short story is where Tagore's philosophy is the most evident.  Tagore's philosophy is one in which he refuses to acquiesce to a transcendent notion of reality when he feels reality simply does not offer it.  Tagore's philosophy is rooted in the idea that the modern predicament has an element of alienation intrinsic to it.  The postmaster himself is alienated from his being in the world while in living in Ulapur. Ratan is an orphan.  She is alienated from nearly everyone.  For both of them, their alienation and befriending one another is a response to the alienation that Tagore feels is intrinsic to the modern setting.  This philosophical tenet is fully appreciated by both the postmaster's actions and the ending of the novel.  After all of the support that Ratan has given him, the postmaster abandons her.  This is consistent with Tagore's philosophy of Modernism, a condition in which there is no real unifying force or transcendent element that seeks to provide automatic redemption.  Certainly, this is seen in the ending.  Tagore's ending is one in which the postmaster experiences a small moment of regret, one in which the postmaster feels that he should act to provide some type of transcendent unity in being.  This is dispelled by the postmaster's reaction to the natural world that he perceives, a setting in which there is little coherence and unity.  In this, Tagore's philosophy helps to explain both the ending and the challenging sense of trajectory that is in the short story.

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