The Vendor of Sweets

by R. K. Narayan

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What are the key quotes in each chapter of The Vendor of Sweets, and their meanings?

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The important quotes in each chapter of The Vendor of Sweets relate to the novel’s central themes, which include materialism, family, and spirituality.

At the end of chapter 1, Jagan manipulates his shop’s financial records. He calls the money that arrives after 6 pm “a sort of immaculate conception, self-generated, arising out of itself and entitled to survive without any reference to tax.” This quote is important because it highlights Jagan’s initial preoccupation with money. By citing the immaculate conception, Jagan fuses cash with religion. Later on, Jagan will feel the need to disentangle the two.

In chapter 2, Jagan turns his attention to the stars. He’s “enthralled at the spectacle of the firmament” and wonders if anyone lives in them. This quote is important because it hints at Jagan’s curiosity about other forms of existence. By the end of the book, Jagan will be leading a much different life.

In chapter 3, Jagan asks, “Was Shakespeare a B.A.?” This question/quote is important because it underscores both Jagan’s education and the growing rift between him and his son.

In chapter 4, Jagan considers the word service. The term “intoxicated him, sent a thrill through his whole being, and explained everything.” This quote is notable since it showcases Jagan’s selfless qualities, his link to Gandhi, and his desire to be consumed by something greater than himself.

In chapter 5, Jagan tells Grace, “I believe in doing all my work myself.” R. K. Narayan then says that Jagan “ate to live only on what he could cook with his own hands.” These two quotes are pertinent because they reflect Jagan’s asceticism, independence, and self-reliance.

With examples of important quotes from the first five chapters, one should now be able to find key quotes in the remaining chapters. Look out for quotes that touch on America, Mali’s continual waywardness, and the transcendent garden.

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