A Job Well Done by Ruskin Bond
In A Job Well Done by Ruskin Bond we have the theme of connection, conflict, fear, control, freedom and revenge. Taken from his Collected Short Stories collection the story is narrated in the first person by a man who is looking back at a period in his life when he was eight years old. From the beginning of the story the reader can see that the narrator has a strong bond or connection with Dhuki. It is as though the narrator lacks a father figure in his life that he can look up to and as such spends a lot of his time with Dhuki. Summerskill believing that the narrator is too soft and as such the narrator has a strained relationship with Summerskill. If anything it is also possible that the narrator (and his mother) are afraid of Summerskill and the routine he believes one should adhere to. The narrator’s mother doesn’t appear to have any control over her life. Something that is noticeable when Dhuki pleads with her to save the well but she follows Summerskills’ instructions. In order to maintain the peace and not upset Summerskill.
It may also be a case that the well symbolises the past for both Dhuki and the narrator with Dhuki remembering how much the narrator’s father liked to sit by the well and draw. Summerskill on the on other hand has no use for the well. He sees it as a blight on the landscape and as such wants it removed. A comparison between both Summerskill and the narrator’s father might also be relevant. Summerskill is a soldier who believes in order and routine. While the narrator’s father appears to have allowed the narrator to live a freer life. One in which he could learn for himself (through reading). He was also well liked and respected by Dhuki and on his death Dhuki decided that out of a sense of respect or duty to the narrator’s mother. He would continue to work for her as he had for the narrator’s father. Though Dhuki pushes Summerskill into the well he does appear to be a good influence on the narrator. He keeps him grounded and both not only have a connection with one another but the reader suspects that both Dhuki and the narrator respect one another too.
Something that is clearer to the reader by the fact that the narrator does not tell anybody that he saw Dhuki push Summerskill into the well. Life if anything becomes easier for the narrator. No longer does he have to live under Summerskill’s rule and in time it is noticeable that the narrator’s mother begins courting again. This time with a man that Dhuki considers to be more appropriate than Summerskill. In many ways the story is an example of those who are suppressed beating those who are in authority. Neither Dhuki nor the narrator had the same sense of freedom that they had when the narrator’s father was alive. In comparison to the time they both spent under the authoritarian control of Summerskill. The narrator in particular was the most effected by Summerskill’s marriage to his mother. Summerskill rather than allowing the narrator to progress as he would like to (by reading) chose instead to ensure that the narrator acted more like a man, in Summerskill’s eyes, and got riding lessons. The reader aware that the direction Summerskill wished to take the narrator was one in which the narrator would join the army. Something which would have broken the free-spirit that the narrator possesses.
Though some critics might suggest that Dhuki is a murderer and should be charged for killing Summerskill. Bond may in fact be highlighting how far an individual. Particularly an individual who is free-spirited will go in order for their life to remain as they would like it to. Dhuki liked the well and as such was not prepared to follow Summerskill’s instructions. This along with other things like how Summerskill treated the narrator and his mother. Led to Dhuki pushing Summerskill into the well. It is as though Dhuki is getting revenge and at the same time ensuring that the status quo that existed during the narrator’s father’s time returns. Life was simpler and easier for everyone then. Nobody lived in fear as they did when Summerskill was alive. Nobodies desires in life where unnecessarily challenged and nobody felt as though there was an uncomfortable influence in their lives (Summerskill). The fact that the narrator’s mother begins courting again so quickly might suggest to some that she may feel relieved that Summerskill is no longer in her life. The narrator’s mother can breathe again as too can Dhuki and the narrator. Also by having Dhuki give his blessing to the narrator’s mother’s new suitor the reader is left to feel as though things will be find for Dhuki, the narrator and his mother.