Wife's Holiday

Malgudi Days by R. K. Narayan

Chapter Summary- What Happens?

A poor coconut picker named Kannan has his wife go to visit her parents. While she is away, he becomes less motivated and lazier. The chapter begins with him sitting around at the door of his hut talking briefly to a friend about how they should go play dice in the ruins that day. He then reflects that if his wife were there she wouldn’t let him sit around so unproductively and wastefully. He hates his job of picking coconuts and only is paid about one rupee per day.

Because of his sluggish nature, he becomes greedy for money and notices his son’s box of coins that the blacksmith of the village had made for him to save money. He tries to take the coins from box but gives up because it was constructed only allow the entrance of coins, while the removal of them was impossible. While he is stealing from his son, he is having mixed feelings about his actions. Frustrated, he eventually smashes the box to open it to access the money. He then takes all of the coins from his son’s tin and goes to spend them playing dice. Within a short while, he loses all of the money and plays on credit until asked to leave. He goes back home and on the way there his wife is walking back early from her parents’ village to their hut with his son and with Kannan feeling shameful about what they will think when they enter their home to see the broken, empty tin.

Meaning of the story- Who Cares?

Wife’s Holiday is about temptation and corruption. Kannan is tempted to not work since his wife is not home and he gives in immediately. He is so tempted by the opportunity of not having to work the author doesn’t even show him resisting to the idea. He is tempted to play dice since his wife is not home and needs money to do so, he is so easily corrupted by the temptation he steals from his son. He even continues on credit while playing dice so he owes more, a true sign of a corrupted person, and shames himself even more.

Quotations and Analysis

“But the worst of it was that he had not a quarter of an anna anywhere about him and he wouldn’t see a coin unless he climbed some trees for it today.” Page 131

This quotation shows his perception of earning. He talks like he expects the money to come without effort, rather than working hard to earn it. It isn’t that he is poor or desperate, but that he expects everything to be given to him.

“At Mantapam luck deserted him, or rather never came with him. Within a short while he had lost all his money. He continued on credit for a while till someone suggested he should give up his seat to someone else more solvent.” Page 133

This quotation shows Kannan’s nature. Literally, it is saying that at the ruins, he spent all of his money on their game of dice. And he continued to spend more and more until he was gambling money that he never even had. It shows that he did not value money in the right way either.

“He watched her in a sort of dull panic. Her box with all its contents scattered, the god’s picture on the floor, the battered red tin-she would see them all the at once the moment she stepped in.” Page 134

This passage shows the results of his poor decisions and what fruit they will bear. It shows his remorse his actions but shows that is still corrupted. He will wait for it to become known than rather confess and think of how make amends not just monetarily but emotionally to his family who will probably feel violated, used, and abused as they will think he views them as less than he views himself.

Connection of Indian culture

This connects by way of showing the lifestyle many Indians have. With billions of people in their country, economically it is hard to gain an advantage over others for yourself. With not enough jobs and money to go around, many Indians live in such as Kannan and his family did. Kannan just is like any other human, he wants to have fun, playing dice, but unlike many, he does not have the resources to live so frivolously. India historically has been this way economically and its just a fact now that there is such poverty with people resorting to growing and selling food on what little land they have. This will not yield much monetarily for the average man, there is only so much land to go around for so many people, despite India’s immense land mass.