R. K. Narayan

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What is the main theme of "Trail of the Green Blazer" by R. K. Narayan?

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The main message or theme in the short story "Trail of the Green Blazer" by R. K. Narayan concerns the extent to which people justify or rationalize immoral or unethical things that they do. In this case, despite a moment of guilt that leads to his arrest, Raju the pickpocket does not consider the stealing that he does to be wrong, because it is the means he uses to provide for his family.

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In the short story "Trail of the Green Blazer" by R. K. Narayan, a pickpocket named Raju waits in the midst of a crowded street for a likely victim. Raju considers being a pickpocket his occupation, and with it, he provides for a wife and two children. He spots a man wearing an ostentatious green blazer (a type of casual suit jacket) and follows him. He watches as the man haggles with a vendor to buy a balloon, which he says is "for a motherless boy." The man emphasizes to the seller that if he does not bring the balloon home intact "he will cry all night."

Raju successfully picks the man's wallet from his pocket and finds a considerable amount of money in it. However, he also finds the folded balloon. He is abruptly "filled with pity at the thought of the young child," and he resolves to return the wallet with the balloon inside to the man.

When Raju attempts to put the wallet back in the man's pocket, though, the man catches him. Raju ends up spending eighteen months in prison and comes out resolving that "his fingers were not meant to put anything back." In other words, he can continue to steal from others but not try to return anything.

The message and main theme of the story have to do with the justifications that people make when committing immoral or unethical acts. In all countries and cultures, stealing is considered wrong. However, Raju rationalizes his behavior by self-identifying as a professional pickpocket. To him, stealing is his livelihood and he is justified in doing it because he has a family to support.

After Raju steals the wallet from the man with the green blazer, however, he feels remorse about the child that the balloon is intended for. It is ironic that he is caught attempting to return the wallet instead of while stealing it. It is important to note, however, that he is returning the wallet empty of the money he had taken. He only intends to give back the balloon. Although he spends a long time in prison, he feels no lasting remorse. He fully intends to continue stealing, only this time, he is resolved to always keep what he takes.

We see, then, that the main message of the story concerns the extent of Raju's justifications for his actions. His remorse does not lead to lasting repentance.

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