The Vendor of Sweets was written by R. K. Narayan and published in 1967. It tells the story of Jagan, who sells sweets in a fictional Indian town. His wife, Ambika, dies, leaving Jagan to care for their son, Mali.
The differing views on marriage is a central theme in this novel. Jagan is a traditionalist and, as such, ruled over his wife when she was alive. Mali blames his father for the death of his mother as, after being diagnosed with a brain tumor, Jagan insisted his wife only use natural remedies. Unable to forgive his father for his mother’s death, Mali rejects the traditional Indian way of life and moves to America to study writing.
In America, Mali meets Grace, an American-Korean woman. When he has finished his studies, he returns to India with Grace. However, Jagan is horrified to learn that not only are Mali and Grace not married, but that they have no plans to ever marry. Grace is also an independent woman not ruled by Mali. Jagan realizes that he must try to accept Mali’s way of life.