How can the modern condition connect to the theme reflected in the ending of Tagore's "The Postmaster?"

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The ending of Tagore's short story brings out the theme of how universal pain and suffering is in the modern setting.  The ending, in particular the last two paragraphs, takes an almost global perspective to the conditions of both Ratan and the postmaster.  Tagore suggests that in their separation, pain is evident in both of their worlds.  It is an interesting theme to develop.  The postmaster has obviously broken Ratan's heart.  There is little ambiguity that Tagore gives us in this element.  Yet, Tagore's narration at the end of the story brings the idea that the postmaster, if only for a moment, feels an indescribable pain of what it means to live in the modern setting.  For a moment, he envisions the pain he caused, and this, in turn, causes pain to him.  Tagore's narration brings out a universal condition in which pain is intrinsic to being in the world.  The postmaster rationalizes this away, arguing in his own mind that this is the way of being, the natural order of things.  His rationalization only concludes that there is pain at the heart of even those who cause pain, suggesting that one of the only universal currencies in the modern setting is the pain that individuals experience.

Ratan's pain of being abandoned is naturally evident at the end of the story.  Tagore's narration makes it clear that she is not the benefactor of such awareness and rationalization that explain her pain or explain it away.  Rather, her condition in the world is one borne of pain, something that Tagore himself brings out in his description of her.  It is one in which she lives her life with a sense of pain intrinsic to it.  It is in this common denominator, one of pain felt and experienced, that both the postmaster and Ratan live.  In doing so, Tagore's ending to the story helps to make clear that the element of experiencing pain is a theme that is embedded in the modern setting.

me103 | Student

 An Englishman establishe a post office in the small village of Ulapur.The postmaster who belonged to Calcutta took up his duty  in this post office. Being separated from his family  nd being from a big city, he felt like  a big fish trapped in a pond.The village  was remote   nd thepostm,aster hardly got any  decent company .Also being from a city,he found it difficult to  be at ease with the village folks.He tried his hands at writing, but failed drastically .he being  a lad from a concrete world could not  define the beauty of that remote village.he used to cook his meals  by himself  and loved to share it with Ratan, an orphan girl who  loved to  help him in his domestic chores. She used to address him as Dada.The postmaster would fondly search excuses to start a conversation with Ratan as he had  no other to talk to.He would ask her about her family and Ratan did not have many memories of her family to be recalled. There were only fragments like pictures, of her father coming home in the evening, and her little brother whom she played with, fishing on the edge of the pond. The post master felt quite at ease with the little girl nd used to tell her about his family..As time   passed, Ratan started knowing his family as if she had known them for years. He also  expressed his desire to teach her alphabets nd very soon she  learnt all the cononants

The rainy season had started and it seemed like  it would never come to an end. The already confined village  activities  became more restricted and the postmaster fell ill  in this solitude. Ratan took good care of him just like a mother and helped him recover soon. Being sick of the loneliness, the postmaster applied for a transfer on grounds of the unhealthy village conditions.But his application was rejected.He then decided to resign.When he broke this news to  Ratan, she  asked him to take her too with  him to Calcutta  . But the postmaster laughed off her silly suggestion. Ratan felt sad and broken. While leaving the place, he tried to convince her that  he would ask the next postmaster to take good care of her and also  offered her some money which she refused to take and said that she did not want to stay there any more .The little girl was  left totally broken and shattered, still with a vague hope that someday her Dada would return.

me103 | Student



The basic idea expressed here is that meeting , attachment and departing are all part of  life.It will all settle with the passage of time.In this story the postmaster needed a company , which he found  in Ratan.But at the same time he didnot hesitate in leaving the poor girl again all on her own.The poor girl had become dependent  on him and had started  taking him as her family. This  part shows us that  human hopes are  not always based or bound  by reasons. It starts dreaming  nd keeps wandering in its own beautiful world of hopes and needless to say ,such hopes are  more often found to be nothing but an illusion