Who are the characters in The Serpent and the Rope by Raja Rao?

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K. R. Ramaswamy, a.k.a. "Rama"

Rama, like the author, Raja Roa, is a Brahmin intellectual interested in reflection, introspection, and prioritizing the search for spiritual truth. He is well-versed in both traditional Hindu and Western knowledge systems and during the course of the novel is pursuing his PhD. He studies...

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K. R. Ramaswamy, a.k.a. "Rama"

Rama, like the author, Raja Roa, is a Brahmin intellectual interested in reflection, introspection, and prioritizing the search for spiritual truth. He is well-versed in both traditional Hindu and Western knowledge systems and during the course of the novel is pursuing his PhD. He studies in France, in England, and takes multiple trips to India that are framed in large parts as ways of seeking spiritual truth.

Madeleine "Mado" Roussellin

Roussellin is a French woman painted as a classic Western beauty and an intellectual. She begins the novel as an ex-Catholic atheist interested in Rama's heritage, and she eventually becomes a Buddhist. Over the course of the novel, while she, in theory, is moving deeper into spiritual practices that might overlap with Rama's, they drift apart. In part, this is described in terms of the idea that you cannot convert to Hinduism and that Roussellin is betraying her own cultural heritage, suggesting a view of essential cultural difference.

Savithri Rathor

Rathor exists as a foil for both Rama and Roussellin. Rathor and Rama are framed as soulmates who are deeply drawn to each other and able to find spiritual truth in each other, but they never marry and their relationship is framed as primarily non-physical. Rathor is depicted as a rebellious young elite, deeply rooted in Hindu traditions. She is described as being much less beautiful than Roussellin by Western standards, but she is a far better woman for Rama. She meets Rama while they are both studying at Cambridge. Rathor is opposed to British rule in India, furthering the theme of her being a better fit for Rama largely due to her being Hindu and prioritizing that connection.

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