45 A Month
By R.K. Narayan
The story then switches perspectives from Shanta to her father Venkat Rao. He works as an accountant, earning only forty rupees a month. Venkat Rao is enraged by his social class because he must work from morning to night and does not get a chance to spend time with his daughter or to buy her any toys. Then one morning a jutka comes to the neighborhood, passing out cinema tickets. Shanta asks her father if they can go and Venkat Rao, furious after reflecting on his job and his daughter's happiness, says yes, they will go to the cinema even if he has to resign from his job to get the time to go. He hates that his job controls his life because he works so hard and for so long with only forty rupees to show at the end of the month. Telling Shanta to be ready at five, he goes to work and is determined to meet his daughter at that time. However, Venkat Rao's workload keeps streaming in and his manager tells him that he cannot leave at five. Thus, he must watch time tick by while he knows his child is eagerly awaiting his return. After assessing his situation, Venkat Rao becomes furious and quickly writes down the resignation he had been conjuring up in his head all day. He leaves the letter of resignation on his manager's desk only to be told by his manager himself that he had recommended Venkat Rao for a raise! Venkat Rao quickly snatches his letter of resignation back from the desk and does not leave the office until nine o'clock.
By the time Venkat Rao returns home around nine, Shanta is asleep, still in dressed and made up for her night out at the cinema.
Meaning of the Work
Although it seems like wealth will always lead to happiness, this is not the case for Venkat Rao. Because he is a slave to his low-paying job when all he wants to do is spend quality time with his family, he resents the fact that he is not able to be a good father and husband. Venkat Rao consistently ponders the idea of quitting his job to become truly happy with his family, however, happiness and pleasant living conditions cannot coexist. Venkat Rao can only be happy once he quits his job and becomes the father and husband he dreams of being but he can only provide pleasant living conditions if he is a slave to his job.
Quotations and Analysis
"He reproached himself for neglecting his wife and child..." (88).
This quotation shows how Venkat Rao hates himself for failing to look after his wife and daughter because he is working so hard. He almost never sees his daughter awake and only quickly spends time with his wife and for this, he is angry. He is angry at his job for controlling him because he is being forced to choose between wealth and family.
"Here was the child growing up without having any of the amenities and the simple pleasures of life...He had no time for the child" (87).
This quote illustrates how having such a time consuming job leaves no time for family at all. Venkat Rao's job does not even earn his a sufficient amount of money to buy Shanta toys and dolls. Once again, it is evident that wealth and family cannot coexist and even if they do coexist, they will be very unbalanced, ultimately bringing about the same result: unhappiness.
"If you people think you have bought me body and soul for forty rupees, you are mistaken. I think it would be far better for me and my family to die of starvation than slave for this petty forty rupees on which you have kept me for years and years."
This quotation represents the breaking point between Venkat Rao and his work life. He is full of resolve to resign from his job, choosing family over work (or so it seems). Venkat Rao feels as though he had sold himself for his job but has realized his err and is ready to show his defiance. However in the end, Venkat Rao ends up remaining a slave to his job, this time for forty-five rupees. He may not be a slave for forty-rupees, but he is a slave for forty-five rupees. Thus he has chosen wealth over family, as they cannot coexist in a balanced life.
"I don't know if it is going to be possible for me to take her out at all--you see, they are giving me an increment--" he wailed (90)
This quote shows how Venkat Rao understands that a raise means more work and less family time. He has chosen wealth over family and realizes how his choice destroys his other option.
Indian History and Culture
Brahmins-Priests and Spiritual Teachers
Kshatriyas- Warriors and Rulers
Vaisyas- Middle ranking farmers or artisans: barbers or carpenters
Sudras- Laborers, Servants, workers
Untouchables- work with dirt and corpses
Those of a lower class lived in a state of great penury and social disadvantage.
To get an idea of how much money this is in India, one 1.5 liter water is 20Rs. That is basically half of Venkat Rao's monthly earning.
*Second Line Indent*
Blanchette, Leo. Mascot Man Worried and Watching a Clock. N.d. ClipartOf. Web. 26 April 2013.
Coolemails. An Indian Rupee Coin. 2011. Cool Forwards. Web. 24 April 2013.
“Good is the Enemy of Great.” The Leader’s Institute. 2012. Web. 26 April 2013.
GVK. Yellow Jutka. 28 Feb 2013. Mysore, India. Bitten by the Photobug. Web. 28 April 2013.
Heitzman, James and Robert L. Worden. India: Caste and Class. US Library of Congress, N.d. Web. 25 April 2013.
Hughes, Lee. Minimalism and Happiness. N.d. The Minimalists. Web. 24 April 2013.
“Indian Workers on Job 8.1 Hours a Day.” The Indian Express. 13 April 2011. New Delhi. Web. 26 April 2013.
Lilly, Paul. McAfee AV Patch Leaves Some Computers Unbootable. 10 June 2009. Maximum PC. Web. 27 April 2013.
Tomaniac. Sleepyhead zzz sleeping. 22 July 2009. Zazzle. Web 26 April 2013.
Nande, Saurabh K. Pile of Coins. N.d. Fine Art America. Photograph. 27 April 2013.
No Creator. Currency Calculator. X-rates, 2012. Web. 26 April 2013.
No Creator. Mom Dad Daughter Family Decal Custom Decal Sticker. 2010. DecalsRock. Web. 27 April 2013.
Phil. Ethics Scale. 9 March 2012. PhilGalfond. Web. 27 April 2013.
Ujl89480. The Indian Caste System. Docstoc, 6 June 2010. Web. 25 April 2013.