Saadat Hasan Manto

Start Free Trial

With reference to the short story "Toba Tek Sigh" by Saadat Hasan Manto, analyze the reactions of the lunatics in the Lunatic Asylum of Lahore.

Quick answer:

The reactions of the lunatics range from incomprehension to confusion to resistance. Bishan Singh actually resists the partition and transfer all the way to death.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In Saadat Hasan Manto's story “Toba Tek Singh,” the inmates of a lunatic asylum are trying to cope with the news that India has been partitioned. India is now reserved for Hindus and Sikhs while Pakistan is designated for Muslims. The inmates are to be moved to their proper locations according to their religion. These men have no idea how to cope with this news. It is more than they can understand or accept, and while their reactions are bizarre, they are designed to reflect the ridiculousness of the partition as well as its harmful effects on the people involved.

The first reaction is complete incomprehension. When asked about Pakistan, one inmate identified it as the place “where cut-throat razors are manufactured.” He simply has no idea what is going on or why.

Another reaction is confusion. The inmates don't understand why they are being sent away. They fear that they will not know the language in their new place. The guards cannot do anything to increase understanding, for they are just as confused as the inmates. The newspapers are no help either.

Other inmates react to the partition with resistance. One climbs a tree and declares he would live there rather than in India or Pakistan. Another is so upset that he runs around naked. Still others pretend to be government or religious leaders in an attempt to stop all the nonsense. Another simply declares that he has no intention of leaving because his law practice would not do well in a new place.

Finally, one inmate, a man by the name of Bishan Singh, makes the most dramatic act of resistance. No one can tell this man which side of the border his hometown is on until someone figures out that it is in the new Pakistan, but Bishan must go to India because he is a Sikh. During the transfer, Bishan stops right in between the two countries and refuses to move. No one can get him to budge, and the poor man dies right there, resisting the partition until the very end.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial