Discuss the socio- economic background in Tagore's short story, "The Postmaster."

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

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While it might not be the most defining of elements in the short story, I think that socio- economic reality is present in Tagore's "The Postmaster."  Consider that Tagore uses the term "humble" to describe the village in the opening line.  The indigo factory that is near by is one that presumably was owned by the British and not the villagers, as the ending of the first paragraph clearly establishes that the post office was set up by the British.  This reflects how there is a constructed valence of power in the village setting between those who possess wealth and those who lack it.  In a unique way, this dynamic is present in the relationship between the postmaster and Ratan.  The urbane and educated postmaster represents the condition of power and the illiterate and abandoned orphan would be the end that displays a lack of power.  Interestingly enough, Tagore is able to suggest this same dynamic of power exists even though the Postmaster himself earns a "meagre" salary.  It seems as if Tagore might be suggesting that even amongst those who could be considered "poor," there is a dynamic of power and powerlessness that is constructed in order to ensure a hierarchy.  While the issue of socio- economic reality is present, Tagore concludes his story with an interesting take on it.  When the Postmaster is ready to go, he offers to pay her and she flatly refuses it, running away after rejecting it.  Tagore might be suggesting that there might exist a realm, almost like an inner citadel, within individuals that transcends, or should transcends, socio- economic reality.  The loyalty that that both Ratan displays towards the postmaster and that Tagore obviously has for her are both expressions that go beyond what the world presents as "wealth" and "power."  In rejecting the money, Tagore might be suggesting that individuals can go beyond their own socio- economic reality, reflecting their own sense of dignity and character that cannot be touched by materialism.

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bhavi32 | Student, Grade 9 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

i m tooo lazy :)

but ya got no option

 

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