The Vendor of Sweets

by R. K. Narayan

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Summarize chapter 3 of The Vendor of Sweets.

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Chapter 3 of The Vendor of Sweets brings to light the existing communication problems between Jagan and his son, Mali. Mali wants to leave college and take up a writing career. However, he is unable to communicate his career desires effectively to his father. He simply tells his father that he is quitting his studies at his college. Jagan is forced to engage his cousin to investigate on Mali's sudden rebellious attitude, and father and son later reconcile.

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Chapter 3 of The Vendor of Sweets starts with a conversation between Jagan and his son, Mali, at the breakfast table. Mali has decided that he does not want to study anymore, and the very thought of his son dropping out of college exasperates Jagan. Later in the day, Jagan confides in his cousin, who has stopped by his shop to try out the day’s sweets. His cousin is careful with the kind of advice he gives Jagan over the issue; he asks Jagan to talk with his son to understand his point of view. However, it seems that Jagan is not comfortable with the idea of talking to his son about what he considers a “strange notion”; he asks his cousin to talk to Mali in his stead.

The cousin passes by Mali’s college after this talk with the young man’s father and sees students and staff members at the college bid Mali farewell. Later, he chances on Mali at the college gates and invites him to a meal at the Ananda Bhavan. From the conversation that ensues between the two, the cousin determines that Mali desires to be a writer and that the young man is unhappy with his studies at his college. He passes this information to Mali’s father, who is the more confused about his son’s strange choice of career.

Afterward, the son and father have a conversation about the son’s decision to quit college, and slowly, the father becomes more accepting of his son’s decision. He even talks to his friends about his son’s writing ambitions; he tells them that the young man is already preparing to participate in a novel-writing competition that offers a prize of twenty thousand rupees to the best writer. From the events in this chapter, it is clear that there is a communication gap between Jagan and his son.

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