A Tiger for Malgudi

by R. K. Narayan

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Why does the tiger guard its cubs in "A Tiger for Malgudi"?

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The tiger guards its cubs in "A Tiger for Malgudi" to protect them from humans. Unfortunately, one night they escape from the den and are shot along with their mother.

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The eponymous tiger of the story, who will later be known as Raja, takes his duties as a father very seriously indeed. He helps his mate raise their cubs together, keeping watch over them in their cave den when she goes off hunting. This is to protect them from humans, especially hunters, who are always looking to bag a tiger.

Unfortunately, Raja falls asleep on sentry duty one night, and when he wakes up, he finds that the cubs are gone. He soon realizes that they must've escaped the den while he was asleep. Initially, he isn't worried; he can see the cubs crossing the riverbank, following their mother's scent.

However, things soon take a tragic turn. The air is suddenly filled with a strange sound, a crackling sound similar to that of twigs breaking. A bewildered and disturbed Raja goes to investigate. There's no sign of his mate or the cubs. Normally, when he calls out to them he gets an immediate response, but not this time.

As he investigates further, Raja realizes why: the cubs and their mother have been shot dead by hunters, and their bodies unceremoniously dumped on a cart in the village. The tiger is filled with rage at the sight of his dead family—so much so that, at that moment, he wants nothing more than to spring forward and pounce on every creature, biting, clawing, and destroying them.

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