R. K. Narayan

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Discuss the use of irony in R. K. Narayan's "Sweets for Angels."

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The irony in “Sweets for Angels” is centered in Kali getting punished rather than rewarded for his generosity. The theme of R. K. Narayan’s story is the loss of innocence, which relates to the identification of the “angels” in the title with both the children and the protagonist, Kali. Although Kali is an adult, he is portrayed as innocent and naïve. He admires the school children for the opportunities they have to learn to read and write, which were not available to him. When Kali earns more money than usual in a single day, he spontaneously decides to share his windfall with the children he sees passing by every day.

Narayan implies that Kali’s upbringing did not include a warning to be wary of strangers who offer candy to children. The adults who witness Kali handing out the sweets immediately jump to conclusions. They cannot imagine that he is truly generous and assume that he has bad intentions. Their prejudice extends to his bearded appearance and its apparent association with strangers from other regions. Through the attack he suffers, Kali loses his innocence and vows to avoid children in the future.

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