The Guide by R.K. Narayan focuses on the theme of guilt and redemption. The main character of the novel, Raju first leads a life of guilt and finally redemption. Raju leads the general public to believe that he is a hero, Sadhu. Raju is an ordinary man who experience changes in the course of his life and earns admiration of the people around him because they never understood him.
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The readers understand Raju’s past in his parents’ home, hut shop, school, as a tourist guide, as a prison and lastly as a homeless seer. The character does not reveal his true self and allows this misunderstanding to continue for his personal gains. Finally, the villagers expose Raju for his acts of deceit. He dies of hunger thinking that it is raining some place.
Raju experiences the social environment brought about by colonialism in Malgudi. The railways truck leads Raju away from the sleepy village of Malgudi to a large city in his consciousness. There is no significant movement involved. Raju becomes an expert in guiding tourists, classical arts and master of dance forms.
He learns that in order to survive in the city, one has to wear many hats and adopts sophistication and intellectually of city life. Raju finds these roles easy because of his involvement with Rosie. Raju uses Rosie, her lover to reach the final goal of his life through her art of dancing. Narayan considers Raju a modern man facing a dilemma as a result of colonialism and struggling to live with it (Narayan 10).
When the police arrest Raju for attempting to forge Rosie signature in order to sale her jewels, he sentenced to prison. It is the prison, which transform him. When Raju comes out of jail, he settles down near a river.
The villagers mistake Raju for a seer, Sadhu. Indians consider Sadhu to be a man who has no desire for worldly things; he is celibate and devotes his life to God. Sadhu depends on offerings from common people for his daily bread. Raju as a Sadhu is not suppose to work, but rather pray to God in order to escape the cycle of life, death and rebirth.
The title of the novel portrays Raju both as a tourist and spiritual guide to public. He is the tourist’s guide. Raju is also a fake spiritual guide. In fact, he is not a spiritual leader at all, but a former prisoner. Narayan demonstrates this through the use of irony.
It is the village moron who leads Raju to his trap when he conveys his message of fasting for the rain. Devotees of Raju stay to show their support and admiration for him. They consider this a magnificent sacrifice for the sake of the people. This action attracts large crowd including American news reporter. Fasting leads Raju to (Narayan 220).
Narayan presents a vague ending. Raju dies while thinking that it is raining at some place. Raju is struggling to fit in the life of past and present with its effects from colonialism. His identity formation removes him from his past life. An ordinary tourists guide, becomes a dancer agent, goes to jail and finally develops to a spiritual guide.
Narayan also presents the theme of empowerment of women. He uses Rosie. Emancipation of women has been a social concern since the past century, and Indian writers were not out of the discourse. Rosie shows efforts to come out strongly and prove her identity through art.
She has a husband, Marco who has never given her any support. Marco is only interested in his art. He has not time for his younger wife. Marco and Rosie were incompatible. He always snubs her (Narayan 67). Rosie also has no interest on what her husband does. To her, Marco is not a real live husband. Raju takes advantage of this and engages Rosie in extra marital affairs. This encounter changes her life altogether.
Rosie came from a family of professional dancing girls. Dancing as an art is part of their lives. She always craved to dance and express herself. Raju likes the way Rosie dances, and he praises. He notes that Rosie can achieve notable success like a meteor if only Macro had an interest in supporting her. Rosie finds this support from Raju (Narayan 155).
Narayan portrays Rosie has a woman who has interests in family life. Though, Rosie had extra-marital affairs she is sorry and begs for forgiveness from her husband. Marco reacts by disowning her, yet it is his fault that led his wife to another man (Narayan 133).
This new experience transforms her. She manages to build her dancing career. She gets fame and public attention. Rosie got a new name as Nalini. This marked a new beginning in her life and her past suffering disappeared (Narayan 157). Raju views Rosie as his possession and becomes jealous for fear of losing her to Marco. Unlike in the past, Rosie began to enjoy herself. Raju says that she would never stop dancing.
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Narayan depicts that liberating women is also a problem. Rosie rises beyond the control of Raju. Raju is not able to stop Rosie. Raju realized that neither he nor Marco had no place in Rosie’s new life. Rosie demonstrate that women it is the economic conditions and lack of expression, which stop women from discovering their position in society. The author shows that male dominance of the society still affects, but they must fight for their emancipation.
Narayan, Rasipuram. The Guide. New Delhi : Penguin Books, 1988. Print.