What is Raja Rao's style in Kanthapura?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Raja Rao's authorial style in Kanthapura reflects a casual, conversational diction, with poetic descriptive word choices (the female narrator is a bit of a dreamy romantic when it comes to nature) and long fluid sentences in narrative passages. The grammar and vocabulary occasionally reflect a regional dialect of the Indian English variety, as seen in phrases like "High on the Ghats is it," but this doesn't detract from the general vocabulary, grammar, and syntax of an educated and socially sophisticated narrator.

Rao uses rhetorical devices that add effect to descriptions and other narratorial passages, with polysyndeton being favored in the exposition. Polysyndeton is the use of many conjunctions, as in, "bring you through the Alambe and Champa and Mena and Kola passes."

An interesting effect of Rao's conversational, slightly dialectical diction is that he is able to allow the narrator to change pace and tone as the subject of discourse changes. She is reverential when speaking of "Goddess Kenchamma," judgmental when speaking of the "braggart" Dore, and neutral when describing the village of "four-and-twenty houses." The changes in tone allowed by conversational diction also allow for the emergence of wit and irony—as when discussing the "[c]lever fellow this Bhatta"—as easily as allowing for the reverent tone the narrator uses when describing the land surrounding Kanthapura: 

Many a centre of cardamom and coffee, rice and sugar cane. Roads, narrow, dusty, rut-covered roads, wind through the forest of teak and of jack, of sandal and of sal, and hanging over bellowing gorges and leaping over elephant-haunted valleys.