Raju, the protagonist and at times the narrator, the son of a poor shopkeeper from the village of Malgudi. His character undergoes various transformations as he goes from shopkeeper to guide (“Railway Raju”), to lover, to impresario (manager of Rosie’s career as a dancer), to prisoner, to impostor (fake guru), to perhaps genuine swami or mahatma (the highest of the Hindu spiritual leaders). Raju is clever, and although he succumbs to the temptations of luxury when Rosie succeeds as a dancer, he does offer her the chance to do what she has always wanted, and his love for her appears to be genuine. On the other hand, his forgery of her name, even if it is not for profit but to sustain their relationship, is unwise, and his initial willingness to assume the role of a guru simply to be fed suggests he may be just another con man. Readers must decide for themselves about the reality and depth of Raju’s transformation by the end of the novel.
Raju’s mother, a traditional Indian woman who defines herself in terms of her domestic role. She is developed more fully as a character than is her husband, about whom she complains frequently. Her initial, albeit reluctant, acceptance of the low-caste Rosie into her house and Rosie’s affection for her indicate that she is a positive character. Raju’s failure to heal their relationship or to build her a new home when he becomes wealthy tends to undercut his character. When she calls in her imperious brother to deal with Rosie, she reveals the weakness of the traditional Indian woman, who relies on domineering males to resolve problems.
Rosie, a traditional (temple) dancer and therefore of a lower caste. She has a master’s degree in economics and married as a means of improving her status. She has the ambitions and dreams, as well as the...
(The entire section is 774 words.)