All Creatures Great and Small by Ruskin Bond
In All Creatures Great and Small by Ruskin Bond we have the theme of connection, affection, friendship, anger, power and preservation. Taken from his Collected Short Stories collection the story is narrated in the first person by an unnamed man and after reading the story the reader realises that Bond may be exploring theme of connection. When the narrator was a boy he not only had a deep connection with his grandfather but like his grandfather he was fond of all the animals that his grandfather kept in his home. The grandmother’s role is also interesting as she too at times feels affectionate towards some of the animals and can even see a practical use for them. The monkey trying to catch mice in the pantry being an example. However the narrator and the grandfather never think of the animals in the home as anything more than pets. Pets to enjoy and look after in a world that the grandfather feels as though is shrinking and as such is endangering animals. If anything the grandfather by the large amount of animals he has may be doing his best to preserve each of the animals that he has.
Ramu’s character though only briefly mentioned is also important as not only does he teach the narrator how to swim but he also becomes firm friends with the narrator. Who spends as much of his free time with Ramu as he can. Two boys from two different backgrounds forgetting what others might think (the grandmother) and becoming friends. Ramu also bestows a lot of knowledge onto the narrator when it comes to the animals by the pond. Though some critics might suggest Ramu’s words are no more than folklore they are still nonetheless important as they open up the narrator’s imagination to the possible links between the gods and animals. Something which makes perfect sense to the narrator. The turtle that Ramu gives the narrator might also be symbolically significant as it could act as to symbolise for their friendship. Even if their friendship is one that is short lived due to the narrator returning home and leaving Dehra. In many ways the narrator not only learns how to swim but Ramu by teaching him about the animals has his knowledge of animals greatly enhanced. It is as though the narrator provides Ramu with the opportunity to tell others of what he has learnt even if what he has been taught is informal.
Though the grandmother gives out to the narrator’s grandfather for a large portion of the story she is not totally against all the animals in the house. If she was she would ensure that the house was free of animals. Though still nonetheless there is a power dynamic occurring between the narrator’s grandmother and grandfather. With the grandmother considering herself to be the offended party on most occasions. She is limited to who she can bring to the family home or who wishes to visit the family home because of all the animals. So in many ways the grandmother’s social life is curtailed. Which she may find difficult considering that she herself doesn’t really have any place to go when she would like to talk to or visit a friend. Something which the grandfather does not think about due to the fact that he is preoccupied with all his animals. His interest lies with having animals for company rather than having humans for company. Which is something that is different to the grandmother. Though again the grandmother will take full advantage of an animal should it be to her benefit.
In reality the grandmother and grandfather’s relationship is solid despite the grandfather’s insistence on having so many animals. Which may be the point that Bond is attempting to make. He may be suggesting that should a couple be married or in a relationship for so long. There is some give and take. Though this give and take does not cover the grandfather acquiring a python. The grandmother can forgive him having a monkey as she herself finds some benefit with having a monkey in the house. The python on the other hand is a different matter. Which may lead some critics to suggest that the power base that exists between the grandmother and grandfather can shift at times. With each willing to turn a blind eye on occasion. Though on most occasions it is the grandmother who ignores the grandfather’s activities. Even if it does mean that her visitors cut short their visit and are somewhat afraid at times to return. Though the reader can see the benefits when it comes to keeping so many animals, for preservation. The grandmother’s social life is taking a beating. One in reality she can do very little about due to the nature of the grandfather. He appears to wish to save or preserve as many animals as he can.