Style and Technique
In keeping with the chronological movement of the story’s plot, Narayan uses a simple and straightforward narrative style, without his habitual use of intermittent irony. The only ironic twist comes at the story’s end when Nambi’s greatest story turns out to be his vow of absolute silence for the rest of his life. Because the story is steeped in Hindu ethos and sensibility, it contains several references to Indian epics, history, myth, and legend.
Narayan’s choice of the omniscient author-narrator vantage is controlled by the demands of plot and character. Because Narayan admires the timeless beauty of the traditional art of oral storytelling, as is clearly evident from the tales in his Gods, Demons, and Others (1964), his use of an omniscient narrator is necessary to show Nambi in an admirable rather than an ironic light. Consequently, he maintains an enthusiastic, exalted, and sympathetic tone through most of the narration.
Narayan has created the story’s setting like a picture in perspective. He provides the physical as well as the spiritual background against which the narrative action takes place. In the opening paragraph, with a few deft strokes of the pen, he paints a dreary picture of the village, with its narrow, twisted lanes, sprawling cottages, unclean sources of water, poor sanitary conditions, and puddles of stagnant water in every house drain, breeding all kinds of diseases. However, the story transcends this physical setting to reveal the true spirit of the village people, who lead a life of pristine innocence, uncorrupted by the influence of urban civilization. The village community consists of simple, caring, and open-hearted people who admire and support the storyteller.
As the story unfolds, the physical setting recedes into the background, and the focus shifts to the spiritual setting, which serves the development of character, theme, and action. The secluded temple, situated at the edge of the forest, and the sprawling banyan tree in the front of the temple provide the most natural and serene environment for Nambi’s contemplation and creativeness. Serving as the fountainhead of Nambi’s divine inspiration, this setting becomes the focal point of the story.