Malgudi Days


This short story is about a young man named Iswaran who is notorious for failing the Intermediate Examination. The whole town of Malgudi knows that Iswaran has failed this exam repeatedly and he is constantly antagonized about not passing. At first his parents sympathized with him but after several times of failing that grew old and they encouraged Iswaran to do something more useful. Despite failing the examination repeatedly Iswaran is determined to well on his final one because it is his last chance. Iswaran is so used to the negative results of his examination that he doesn’t even bother to wait at the Senate House with the rest of the students but instead he goes to watch two films. After the films are over Iswaran writes a note for his father and slips it in his coat pocket that he plans to leave on the steps at the Senate House. Late at night Iswaran heads to the Senate House while no one is there to find out that he did in fact pass the examination. He was so overwhelmed at the fact that he just passed that he goes crazy and drowns in the Sarayu. His body was later found about a quarter of a mile down the course of the river and someone had discovered his coat along with the note inside it that read “ My dear father: By the time you see this letter I shall be at the bottom of Sarayu. I don’t want to live. Don’t worry about me. You have other sons who are not such dunces as I am.”

Meaning of the work

The meaning of the work is how pressure can have a negative affect on someone. In this society education is very important and being successful in school is expected. In the case of Iswaran he was so overwhelmed that he had finally passed that exam that he goes crazy and drowns in the river. Imagine years and years of pressure and stress being relieved all over just one exam. An example of how much pressure Iswaran was facing in his life is shown here,"If I can't pass an examination even with a tenth attempt, what is the use of my living and disgracing the world?" (57). This quote shows how Iswaran's whole life is impacted by just one exam. He has so much pressure on him to pass that he feels like he would be a disgrace to the world if he didn't. Unfortunately, in this case pressure caused Iswaran to lose his life.

Other Quotations Connecting to the Meaning of the Work

"I am not fit to live. A fellow who cannot pass an examination..." (57)

"Years of strain and suspense were suddenly relaxed; and he could hardly bear the force of this release." (59)

Both quotes show how pressure negatively affect Iswaran and how passing the examination totally consumed his entire life. The first quote demonstrates how the pressure in Iswaran's life has gotten so overwhelming that he doesn't even want to live anymore. The second quote describes how relieved Iswaran felt when he saw that he had in fact passed the exam. All of his worrying days were now over and he finally had something to feel accomplished about.

Education in India

In ancient times india had the Gurukula system. In this system a student who wished to be taught would go to the teachers house (guru) and represent why they are worthy to be taught. In the 1830s a new education system was put into place. This system was more focused on “modern” subjects such as science and mathematics, and subjects like metaphysics and philosophy were considered unnecessary. This system required students to be taught in classrooms and students no longer had a connection with their teachers. This system was created to give all students a “higher education.” The school system is divided into four levels: lower primary (age 6 to 10), upper primary (11 and 12), high (13 to 15) and higher secondary (17 and 18). The lower primary school is divided into five “standards”, upper primary school into two, high school into three and higher secondary into two. Which is their way of dividing age groups and learning levels.


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