Attila by R.K. Narayan
In Attila by R.K. Narayan we have the theme of trust, faith, loyalty, persuasion and luck. Taken from his Malgudi Days collection the story is narrated in the first person by an unnamed narrator and after reading the story the reader realises that Narayan may be exploring the theme of trust. Attila cannot be trusted as a guard dog. He is too friendly in his manner allowing anybody to enter the property he is supposed to be protecting. If anything Attila is more like a pet than a guard dog. However it is noticeable that one member of the family does always defend Attila while everybody else can only see the negative in Attila. It is the young defenders faith in Attila which ensures that he remains with the family despite the fact that he is in reality not a guard dog at all. It is also interesting that the young defender remains loyal to Attila even after the house has been robbed. He cannot see that Attila may be at fault such is his allegiance to Attila. If anything it would appear that Attila has only one friend in the house and that friend is the young defender. No matter what Attila may do or what mistakes he may make the young defender always defends Attila. Even when it is clear to the reader that Attila is not the dog that the young defender thinks he is.
What is also interesting about the story is the fact that the narrator never takes sides. They never comment as to whether Attila’s actions are good or bad. It is left to the reader to decide for themselves as to whether Attila is a suitable guard dog. The narrator remains unbiased throughout the story. It is as though they are relaying the facts to the reader and allowing the reader make up their own mind. In many ways this may be important as it draws the reader into the story encouraging them to make a decision based on the facts that are presented to them. If anything the narrator remains neutral throughout the story. Making sure not to tie themselves to any particular side. Be it with the family members who think that Attila is not a good guard dog to the young defender who is constantly taking Attila’s side. However it might be important to consider that for the majority of readers Attila would be viewed upon as no more than a pet rather than as a guard dog. At no stage in the story does Attila show an ability to defend the property he is supposed to defend.
Attila is also easily persuaded when Ranga is robbing the house. Rather than doing anything constructive Attila ends up following Ranga home to his house and becoming his friend. It does not enter Attila’s mind that his own family’s house has been robbed and that it was his role to defend the property and family from intrusion. Though some critics might suggest that Attila is fickle in nature and prepared to go off with anybody who treats him nicely. It is more likely that Attila simply isn’t a suitable guard dog. He may lack the required intelligence to protect his owner’s property. It is also interesting that Attila forces himself completely on Ranga. Whether he is working or at home Attila is constantly by Ranga’s side. Much to Ranga’s annoyance. Ranga has no option but to allow Attila remain by his side. There is nothing he can do when it comes to the loyalty that Attila shows him.
The end of the story is also interesting as Narayan may be introducing an element of luck. The young defender sees Attila in the streets and only by sheer chance does he realise that Ranga is the thief who stole the jewellery from his house. Rather than seeing events as being fortunate the young defender believes that Attila has been following Ranga all the time. Considering Attila to be a detective. While the reader realises that this is not the case. Attila has shown no loyalty to his previous family or to the young defender but the young defender cannot see this. He cannot see that what has happened is purely an act of good fortune. That he has been lucky while walking through the streets to see Attila. Whose first concern was not to run to the young defender but to follow Ranga as he was running away. Regardless of this the family’s faith in Attila as a guard dog is restored. Rather than viewing his as a pet who likes to have fun. Which he is. The family again bestow their trust in Attila. At the end of the story Attila can do no wrong. He is considered to be a hero by all concerned in the family and the young defender feels justified that he has stuck by Attila’s side when everybody else thought him to be a poor guard dog. In reality Attila has fooled everybody by way of good fortune rather than by his abilities as a guard dog.