What is the theme of short story "The Hungry Stones" by Rabindranath Tagore?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This one is going to be a bit tough because the story itself is one of the most challenging to dissect.  It is difficult to find a theme because the story's ending is suspended.  The companion's story of hopeful escape from the mansion is not completed, and accordingly, the judgment of whether the story is valid or false is also suspended.  The speaker and his "theosophist relative" disagreed on their own impressions of the narrative, causing a "rift which was never healed."  In this, one can see that it is difficult to find a definitive theme because of the suspended nature of both the story and the narrative framed within it.  It is Tagore's genius that he would provide a fragmented narrative in both the frame of the story and the story, itself.  With all of this in mind, I think that a theme that can be present is the idea of negative capability.  There is a level of uncertainty and lack of totality present in the short story.  The start of it features everyone telling the companion that he should avoid the palace at all costs, and his rebuke of such a claim.  Over time, he begins to recognize the truth of the warnings and the end result is that there is some larger force which is at work in the palace, one that cannot be fully appropriated or controlled.  In this, there is a theme of challenging control with the invariable opposite of a lack of control.  This assertion in a lack of totality and harmony is apparent in the ending of the story, one where there is the sense of the inconclusive evident along with disunity present in the telling of the narrative, as well.

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The Hungry Stones

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