Malgudi Days: The Tiger's Claw

By R. K. Narayan

Summary of The Tiger's Claw

The short story takes place near the mountains of an area called Mempi Forest in India. A character known as the Talkative Man begins a tale and the story starts from there. The subject of the story was a man who sold fertilizer and it brought him to a village called Koppal. It was a small village and was known because of it location on a railway. When the man arrived at the station in Koppal the station-master was welcoming and offered him to stay for dinner. After dinner the man was getting ready to leave but the station-master warned him that sleeping on the station platform was dangerous because of the tigers. The station master let him stay in a small compartment for the night. He fell asleep and dreamt of cat-like creatures that he realized were tigers. He was scared of his dream and woke up to the sight of a tiger pushing the door of the room open. The tiger was hesitating because of the sound that a chair made when the door was opening. Waiting for the right moment to come, the man took the table from the room and pulled it toward him so that he was wedged between the table and the corner of the room. He also got the chair to use as a shield from the tiger. Not too long after the tiger was on top of the table and swatting at the man. The man reached for a knife that had fallen off the table and used it to defend himself. Each time the tiger tried to hit the man, the man used the knife to cut of the tigers digits. Eventually the station master and the porter came to the room and saw the tiger and ran. While the tiger was chasing the porter up a tree a train was coming and frightened the tiger so he ran back into the jungle. That was the end of the Talktive Man's story.

Meaning of the Short Story

The story represents culture. The Talkative Man represents storytellers which are present in all societies, but while stories are told and entertain people, there is always the question of whether or not they are completely true.

Important Quotations and Analysis

"We've met a few instances like this. It's said that some forest tribes, if they catch a tiger cub, cut off its claws for some talisman and let it go. They do not usually kill cubs" (52).


"After the crowd surged passed us, he sat us on a rock mount, under a margosa tree, and began his tale:" (47).


These two quotes show the meaning of tradition. The first showing more generally how people deal with different cultural things or rituals and the second about the traditions of storytelling and the lesson people take from each story told because every society has someone like the Talkative Man.


"We pushed through the crowd and begged to be shown the right forepaw of the tiger...Yes there were three toes missing, and a deep black scar marked the spot" (52).


This quote is supposed to be the proof in the tale that the Talkative Man told. But the story was a tale and like in a myth you never know what parts are true and what parts are made up for entertainment. Though the a tiger is shown with three toes missing, the nature of people is to be questionable as well as believing.



Connection to Indian Culture/History

The Talkative Man in the story represents the storytellers in India. He serves as entertainment for the crowd but also he teaches the listeners a lesson. The purpose of the storytellers stories are to pass down the culture through their stories and to teach lessons, which the Talkative Man did.


Another indian tradition displayed in the story is when the forest tribes catch cubs they only cut off several of their claws instead of killing them. Many tribes in India practice this tradition which is the reason the Talkative Man's extravagant story is questioned.

Importance/Significance of Tigers in India

Tigers are the national animal of India and symbolizes magnificence, power, beauty, fierceness and sometimes bravery/valor. India is also the home of nearly half of the world's population of tigers and the government of India has programs to protect this royal animal. Tigers are greatly respected because of their rare combination of grace, strength, agility, and power states the website, Cultural India. The most common tiger, that is found almost all over India is known as Royal Bengal Tiger.

Bibliography

"National Animal of India." National Animal Of India. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Apr. 2013.

"Frequently Asked Questions - Tiger." WWF India. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Apr. 2013.