The Postmaster Questions and Answers
by Rabindranath Tagore

Start Your Free Trial

Why does the postmaster not agree to take Ratan with him?

Expert Answers info

Madeleine Wells eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2015

write3,295 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Law and Politics

In the story, the postmaster does not take Ratan with him when he returns to Calcutta. Ratan, who has become attached to him, is devastated by his seemingly callous rejection.

There may be a number of plausible reasons why the postmaster does not take Ratan with him. First, by all indications, the postmaster is unmarried. If he returns to Calcutta with a young girl in tow, he will likely become the subject of gossip. This brings us to another reason the postmaster does not let Ratan accompany him home: the considerations of class and status are of primary importance in a country like India, despite new laws forbidding caste discrimination.

Since the higher castes value strict compliance to the status quo, protecting one's reputation is key to preserving one's status in Indian society. If the postmaster returns to Calcutta with a young girl from an impoverished background, he will not only be the subject of gossip, but he will also find his position in society threatened. Most importantly, if he has any desire to marry at all, the postmaster cannot risk returning to his city with Ratan.

In the story, when Ratan asks if the postmaster will take her with him when he leaves, the postmaster merely laughs. He neglects to explain to her why her idea is absurd; to him, the reasons should have been clear. Although we can surmise that Ratan understands, we also know that her affection for the postmaster is genuine. To Ratan, the postmaster has become a beloved father-figure. She isn't interested in monetary or temporal considerations (this is apparent in her rejection of the postmaster's monetary gift before his departure); however, in her loyal affection, she fails to recognize her employer's true character. Thus, her grief is agonizing, in light of his rejection.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial