Ruskin Bond

Start Free Trial

Discussion Topic

Characters and identities in "The Thief's Story" by Ruskin Bond


In "The Thief's Story" by Ruskin Bond, the main characters are a young thief named Hari Singh and his employer, Anil. Hari tries to steal from Anil but eventually changes his ways due to Anil's kindness. The story explores themes of trust, redemption, and the impact of kindness on a person's identity and choices.

Expert Answers

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

What was the thief's real name in "The Thief's Story" by Ruskin Bond?

We never know the thief’s real name in this story – when he introduces himself to Arun, he lies and says his name is Deepak.  “Deepak was about my fifth name,” he confides to the readers, “I had earlier called myself Ranbir, Sudhir, Trilok and Surinder. “

The thief becomes a cook for Arun, even though he has no skills at cooking – Arun is a kind master and overlooks Arun’s inexperience, teaching him to cook as well as teaching him to write.  It is Arun’s trust, along with his newfound skill at writing, that sends Deepak back to return the money he steals from Arun one night.  He realizes that being able to write sentences opens the door to countless opportunities, and with this one honest gesture the reader can assume that he abandons thievery and adopts a resolution to live a better life.  Despite this change that comes over him, however, at the end of the story he still does not reveal to Arun his real name.  Perhaps we can imagine that he keeps the name Deepak – the name that he held when he became an honest person, with long-term goals and a trusting friend.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who are the characters in the short story "The Thief" by Ruskin Bond?

In the short story “The Thief” written by Indian writer Ruskin Bond the characters are the Thief and Arun. The Thief is only fifteen years old upon his first meeting with Arun, who is about twenty years old. They meet at a wrestling match and the Thief tries to gain the friendship of Arun so as to eventually take advantage of him.

When Arun asks the Thief what his name is, the Thief replies, lying, that his name is Deepak. The two proceed to watch the wrestling match and Arun appears to have no further interest in the Thief. Arun leaves and the Thief follows him and says he wants to work for Arun.

The Thief thinks he can gain assets by locking onto Arun. Arun lets him know that he cannot afford to pay him. However, the Thief feels it is worth it to pursue Arun if Arun can feed him. Arun indicates that he can feed the Thief if the Thief can cook. He cannot. However, he lies again and says that he can cook. Nevertheless, his cooking is horrible and Arun is ready to dispatch him to the streets.

The Thief uses his boyish charm to prevent Arun from tossing him out. They subsequently come to enjoy each other’s company and laugh and discuss things. Arun, in a sense, takes the Thief under his wing. He teaches him to cook as well as write. This shows the underlying compassion that is part of Arun’s character.

The Thief enjoys being part of Arun’s life and cooking for him. The Thief’s shrewd character is shown in how he manages to make a profit for himself in the shopping he does for Arun, as indicated in this line:

“I would tell Arun that rice was fifty-six paise a pound (it generally was), but I would get it at fifty paise a pound.”

It’s important to understand in this short story that deep in his heart, the Thief does want a better, more truthful life. He says that once he learns to write properly it might be an “incentive to be honest.” Therefore, there is somewhat of a moral compass within him. He ends up stealing money from Arun, but in the end returns the money back to him. The Thief is fond of Arun, and sympathetic towards him. The Thief wants to learn to be an educated man and turn his life around. By the end of the story he is taking the first steps to improve his lot in life.

Image (1 of 1)
Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Who are the characters in the short story "The Thief" by Ruskin Bond?

There are two characters in Ruskin Bond's short story "The Thief."

The Thief/ Deepak

The narrator of the story is the thief. The story is told in first person; therefore, the thief tells his own story. After Arun asks him his name, the thief gives him the name of Deepak. This is not the thief's real name (as seen in the text).

"Deepak," I lied.

Deepak was about my fifth name. I had earlier called myself Ranbir, Sudhir, Trilok and Surinder.

The thief is fifteen when the story takes place. The thief sees Arun as an easy target to rob and persuades his way into Arun's home.


Arun is "around twenty" when he first meets the thief. Arun employs the thief as a cook (even though the cooking is horrible). In the end, Arun helps the thief to realize that people can change and promises to teach him to write.

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
Last Updated on