Fear of Fear by Mulk Raj Anand
In Fear of Fear by Mulk Raj Anand we have the theme of determination, fear, resentment, independence and cruelty. Taken from his Selected Short Stories collection the story is narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator and after reading the story the reader realises that Anand may be exploring the theme of determination. Dev is determined not to eat or to do as his parents ask him to do. He is being stubborn yet the reader doesn’t know exactly way. It is possible that his father has already hit Dev with his cane. This might help explain why Dev is so stubborn. There is nothing that will entice him to eat his dinner. Which may lead readers to suspect just how upset Dev is. There is also a sense that Dev wants revenge on his father and he exacts revenge when he goes to bite his father before being pulled away by some of the neighbours. Dev’s mother is also at a lost as to what has happened and she attempts to bribe Dev when it comes to eating but Dev is not having any of it. He is sticking to his principles and refusing to cooperate with his parents.
If Dev has been hit by his father than it shows how cruel Dev’s father can be. He may be a school teacher but he does not have to hit the children. It is as though he might enjoy it rather than looking for a kinder solution. Dev’s father and his stick seem to rule the roast. Whether they deserve it or not. It is easier for a grown man, with a stick, to hit a child. There simply is no sense of fairness and it only ends up breeding resentment among the children. Though this is not necessarily something that Dev’s father would see. He believes in his own self-importance and as far as he is concerned he can do no wrong. He rules the classroom and every student is answerable to him. It is also interesting that Anand does not bring the reader into the classroom to see Dev’s father in action. In reality there is no need to when we see how he treats Dev.
There may also be some symbolism in the story which might be important. The cane the father threatens to get from the school acts as a tool of discipline and frightens Dev. It is as though the father is unable to discipline Dev without the use of force. Which says a lot for his parental skills. The food that is being offered to Dev is plain (in Dev’s eyes) and he doesn’t want it. He wants something nicer if not unhealthier. As any young boy would want. The fact that there are no tears in Dev’s eyes when he is wrestling with his mother also shows just how determined Dev is. He is acting independently and does not want to mix with his mother or father. He is standing on his own two feet and is ready to attack his father who has threatened him. If anything Dev is not only being defiant but he is acting bravely. Though there is a price to be paid.
The end of the story is also interesting as after Dev attacks his father he runs into his mother’s arms. This too could be significant as Dev knows that his father will retaliate if Dev does not run into his mother’s arms. He feels safe in his mother’s arms and that says a lot. Dev is not afraid of his mother and knows that she will love him and stop his father from hitting him. If anything Dev has found solace and peace in his mother‘s arms and one feels as though he is now prepared to eat his dinner after his tantrum and attacking his father. As for Dev’s father he is at a loss as to what to do. He knows he can’t hit Dev while he is in his mother’s arms and the moment will soon pass when he is able to hit Dev in retaliation for hitting him. In reality Dev’s father has handed the situation badly, threatening Dev with the cane. If he had been patient and talked to Dev things might have worked out better.