The Vendor of Sweets

by R. K. Narayan

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Student Question

What were Jagan's feelings for Grace in The Vendor of Sweets?

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Jagan's first impression of Grace was not entirely positive, but by the end of the novel, he's softened toward her and helps her have an option to leave and go home.

When Jagan's son, Mali, comes home, he introduces his father to his half-Korean, half-American wife. Jagan is shocked. He thinks at first that she might be Chinese, which would make her like the people he thinks of as invaders. Next, he thinks that no, maybe she's Japanese. He doesn't know how to ask without being offensive. At home, he avoids both her and Mali at first.

However, Grace appears to be a good wife who is kind to Jagan, takes care of Mali, and tries to learn about their culture. As he gets to know her, Jagan has more respect for her. They become friendly as Grace tries to take care of him in the same way she takes care of Mali. In a lot of ways, Grace is closer to Jagan than Mali is. She's more open to him and more responsive to his needs.

However, Grace lies to Mali in a way. She is the one who sent the letters, and she allowed Jagan to believe it was Mali. Also, she's not actually married to Mali. They're in a relationship but pretended to be married to appease his traditional beliefs. This keeps Jagan from maintaining a close relationship with her, even though it seems that at times they cared about each other. He does offer her a plane ticket to take herself home after Mali was arrested, in case she wants to leave.

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