R. K. Narayan

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How does the story "Out of Business" by R.K. Narayan illustrate the triumph of "hope" over "rope"?

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R. K. Narayan’s story “Out of Business” is indeed a tale of the triumph of “hope” over “rope.” Let's look at what that means in the context of the story.

As the story begins, Rama Rao loses his job as an agent for a gramophone company. He and his family have been comfortable in their lives, but all of a sudden they are poor. They must move out of their comfortable house and struggle to get money to pay for the barest necessities. Rama Rao does his best to keep up his hope, inquiring continually about possible jobs. But nothing comes through.

One day Rama Rao comes across a crossword puzzle contest in a journal at the library. He decides that he will try for the prize, and pretty soon he becomes obsessed with his puzzles. The problem is, though, that he never gets the right answers or wins the prize, and since he has to spend money to enter the contest, he cuts his family’s budget down even more.

The journal then offers a special puzzle with a magnificent prize, and Rama Rao determines that he will enter the contest. He just has to figure out the clue “Some People Prefer This to Despair.” Rama Rao thinks of the answers “hope” and “dope” and “rope,” but he cannot decide which one is right. In the end, he gets the puzzle wrong and loses out on the prize.

At this point, Rama Rao decides that he will choose “rope” over “hope.” He gives in to his despair and lies down on a railroad track, determined to end his misery at once. But the train does not come. Eventually he gets up and asks what has happened to the train. It has been delayed because of an accident down the line. Rama Rao recognizes that God has shown him mercy, and he runs home.

Rama Rao’s wife has good news. Someone wants to buy their house, and that money will keep them nicely for quite a while until Rama Rao can find a new job. Rama Rao is relieved that, in the end, “hope” triumphs over “rope” and he lives.

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