‘The Postmaster’ by Rabindranath Tagore

Tagore, Rabindraneth 1891

The Postmaster by Rabindranath Tagore, 1891

The magic trick:

Filtering a strong editorial bent through the third-person narrator

On the surface, the third-person narrator in this story appears to be an unbiased teller of a simple, uncluttered story. It is not as if the narration chides the postmaster for his feelings (lack of feelings?) or actions (mistakes?). But the author’s point of view is very much present. The narrative moves and ends in such a way as to leave the reader very probably muttering “Jeez, what an idiot.” It’s not coincidence. The narration might be unbiased but the message is clear. And that’s quite a trick on Tagore’s part.

The selection:

The postmaster laughed. “What an idea!” said he; but he did not think it necessary to explain to the girl wherein lay the absurdity.

That whole night, in her waking and in her dreams, the postmaster’s laughing reply haunted her—”What an idea!”

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