Fritz by Satyajit Ray

In Fritz by Satyajit Ray we have the theme of memory, innocence, worry, control, letting go, friendship, fear and conflict. Taken from his The Collected Short Stories collection the story is narrated in the first person by a man called Shankar and after reading the story the reader realises that Ray may be exploring the theme of memory. Jayanto can remember when he was a child and he visited Bundi. Throughout the story he recalls incidents of his time in Bundi telling Shankar not only about the deodar tree but about Fritz as well. For Jayanto the time he spent in Bundi when he was a child is mostly a happy and innocent time. Apart from when Fritz was torn apart by two dogs. It is also noticeable that Jayanto is afraid while in his in Bundi. He believes that while he was sleeping Fritz had come into his room and walked across the bed. Though Jayanto believes this the reality is it did not and could not have happened. If anything Jayanto most likely feel asleep thinking about Fritz and then dreamt of Fritz. Such is his renewed attachment to Fritz. This may be important as Ray may be highlighting to the reader the fact that Jayanto has never really let go of Fritz. There is also a sense that though Jayanto was a happy child his transition to teenager and subsequently to man has not been smooth. Throughout the story Jayanto is uncomfortable.

It is also noticeable that Jayanto spends some of his time in the story worrying. Something that is noticeable when he at first thinks that the deodar tree is gone. The tree itself is no more than a marker for Jayanto. Letting him know where Fritz is buried. The important thing is that Jayanto thinks he might have lost Fritz forever. Which would again suggest that Jayanto despite the passing of time has difficulty letting Fritz go. Also the fact that Jayanto agrees to have Fritz dug up further suggests that Jayanto has not let Fritz go. It is also noticeable that despite the continued vacancy that Jayanto has during parts of the story and the fact that he wakes Shankar up in the middle of the night. Shankar does not lose patience with his friend. He is there for him throughout the story. Which highlights how much of a good friend Shankar is to Jayanto. Even if the friendship appears to be one sided due to Jayanto’s preoccupation with the past.

The past also seems to be controlling Jayanto. His memories as a child differ somewhat to what he sees as an adult. The chair being an example. When Jayanto was a child he sat in the chair with his legs crossed believing he was sitting on a throne. However as an adult he is too big to do the same thing and as such what he remembers and what is reality for Jayanto are two different things. Which may suggest an internal conflict within Jayanto. If anything Jayanto may long for the simplicity of life that he felt when he was a child in Bundi. Though it is inevitable that everybody needs to eventually grow up the reader senses that Jayanto has strong desires for the world to stop turning so fast on him. Though his memories are over thirty years old for Jayanto they feel as though they were only yesterday. This may be important as Ray may be suggesting that some people will not let go of their past and will always try and rekindle their past if they can. Something that Jayanto appears to be doing by way of digging up Fritz.

The end of the story is also interesting as the reader is left surprised by what Jayanto and Shankar find when they are looking for Fritz. They find a twelve inch human skeleton which leaves the reader questioning whether Fritz was really a toy or was he human. It is a question that is difficult to answer. It might also be important to remember that Ray’s intention at the end of the story is to shock the reader unexpectedly. Something he successfully manages to do. However the fact that just a skeleton is found and no pieces of metal could suggest that the skeleton does not belong to Fritz. There is no sign of Fritz’s metal shoe buckles which one would expect to be found. Also Jayanto’s memory may also be called into question. Perhaps he has picked the wrong spot. Maybe Jayanto cannot trust his memory. Something that Ray may be exploring. What is really interesting at the end of the story is that the reader is left with more questions than answers. Never really knowing what the truth might be. Which may be the point that Ray is attempting to make. He may be suggesting that what is true for one individual may not be true for another. Something that is noticeable already in the story with Jayanto’s memories being sometimes different from the reality around him in Bundi.

Cite Post
McManus, Dermot. "Fritz by Satyajit Ray." The Sitting Bee. The Sitting Bee, 5 Feb. 2018. Web.


  • Its really helpful.

  • By reading this short story I came to know more about it in detail…

  • Thanks a lot by reading this I am able to solve what actually happens in the end of the story.

  • The story does not say no metal buckle was found. It ends with the skeleton being found. So maybe other metallic remains are in the grave under the deodar tree.

  • It might be that Jayanto and his friend both are hallucinating. As the only third person present there was the gardener and we do not get any direct word or words from the mouth of the gardener. It is probable that the skeleton is Jayanto and his friends imagination.

    • You are actually wrong megha. (The story-quote), ‘The spade slipped from the gardeners hand.’
      This not only indicates that the gardener had seen the contents of his dug up ground, but had also seen that it was indeed something out of the usual; and it is appropriate to assume that the gardener had seen the skeleton.

  • This is really an amazing summary which covers whole story and it also makes easy for us to understand Ray’s ability of writing something different and admirable

  • It’s really helpful. Thanks!

  • I think that the doll is actually his little brother, because I’ve read similar horror stories but I don’t see why and how he has forgotten such an important thing. The second possibility is that jayanto is in fact Shankar’s imagination that is why he gets so few replies when talking to him. Tell me what you think.

  • There are few elements in the story which suggest that Fritz was human/he was not a human. The first point that proves Fritz was human is that when Jayanto says that the vendor who sold Fritz to his uncle said to him to call him Fritz, he won’t respond to any other name. The second point is that when Jayanto said that he used to talk him for hours and Fritz had an unusual smile, sometimes he felt that he would talk back if he used to talk in German. These two are the strongest points to prove that Fritz was alive. But there again another strong point to prove that the others points stated above have no base because when Jayanto said that one day when he left Fritz outside alone the stray dogs were having a nice tug o war of him i. e. the point, if Fritz was real then why was there so stain of blood when dogs tore him apart and if he was dead before then why his body didn’t degrade. Another theory can be that an human skeleton was used to make Fritz an special doll

    • Maybe Fritz was not a human but maybe it relates to things beyond nature or maybe Jayanto is hiding something or y would he choose Bundi

    • well you have a point. But if we say that Fritz was a human, how can he not move and talk and blink. As no Human can stay still for long hours. So this is the main point proving Fritz was not a Human. But talking about supernatural, we can say that the Doll had a spirit in it just as we are shown in movies. This is a possibility. And about the Skeleton they, came back after 31 years so may be there was something else buried there.

  • Thanks for the post. Really helpful in a way.

  • The skeleton was ‘ pure white ‘. A human skeleton degrades over time. Thus the skeleton may be a clay model. Jayanto does not remember a gardener in the circuit house. Next Jayanto, a little child digs 8 inches. The gardener uses a spade that can bury itself more than 8 inches in the ground. The gardener digs for enough time to ask about a treasure in the ground. So he digs more than 8 inches. So the skeleton is certainly NOT Fritz.

    • See many changes occur beneath the ground and it is perfectly possible that the doll’s body shifted to a little more depth due to some external natural factors.

  • The word ‘fritz’ means disambiguation which means ‘not clear’. It is possible that Satyajit Ray has named the story such because at the end the story does not give a clear conclusion to the fact that whether fritz was a ghost or a human. And if it is a ghost then what kind of ghost it is?

    What is your opinion?

  • Okay, This story is lowkey kinda terrifying in a way that I’m reading this at 4:30 am and that cat scene took place at 2:30 am. Over all the story is sh*t, but here the explanation of it is really helpful.

  • It was really helpful thank u so much for this great explanation of the story its really a great story of satyajit ray

  • You helped me a lot with my exams. Thank You so much.

  • It helped me in my boards… Logical explanations and a good one…. Thnks!

  • Are you aware of the fact that this story is asked in ISC board Exams and if you do then, for writing a answer of 20 marks what you mentioned in this post is enough to be built upon?

  • Thanks for such a great view!

    But as the story follows the theme of Super naturalism, then one might interpret the story on the basis of that level too!

    According to me the author has left the story open-ended for the readers to conclude whether Fritz was a ghost or some kind of supernatural being, who died an unnatural death or a figment of Jayanto’s imagination. Further, it raises suspicion if Fritz was actually a ghost, as hinted by its seller that it would respond only to the name ‘Fritz’ ( although jokingly {as remarked by the author}), and that is why it turned into a human skeleton. Whatever final conclusion of the readers may have, but the story is an intriguing one related with the theme of supernatural things.

    Further more, I would like to highlight the fact that this story by Satyajit Ray was originally written in Bengali.

    The English translation is by Gopa Majumdar.

    So it might have been ’cause of the translation, the story seems to be missing some of its essence!

  • This story was first published in 1971. At that time, a myth regarding the existence of little humans was widespread. So could it be that Fritz was actually one of those little humans?

  • Fritz story was really an interesting short story.

  • Found really helpful. Got exams coming up.So I really want to thank you. I feel they had dug up the wrong place. It could be Fritz was buried somewhere else. Or else it could also be that someone must have murdered a baby and buried it there. That person on seeing Fritz must have taken it out so there are no remains of fritz when Jayanto and Shankar dig it up.

  • The apt setting of the story seems to be an important aspect . The story would’ve lost its essence if it was set somewhere else. Bundi is such a magnificently beautiful place , with a fairy tale- like quality, but it is located far away from the crowd and was and still is always believed to be haunted. Similarly Fritz seems to be such an eccentric yet mesmerising doll when it comes to his appearance but the thought of Fritz walking over him at night constantly haunts Jayanto in the story. What ‘appears’ to be something true may not always be so. This could be a case of appearance v/s reality as one of the underlying themes.

  • Is Fritz was really a human…….. might be it can be a demon…. but thanks this really helped a lot.

  • Fritz may have been built with the human like skeleton and made to look life like. This is why the shopkeeper who sells it says that he would not respond to any other name than Fritz because it looks very real. Jayanto also feels that he could respond for this reason. And when they buried it maybe the skeleton part didn’t degrade because it was made of such a material while the other parts did. Also this story would have been scary if not for toy story because i kept on imagining it as that.

  • I only cared for the comments as it shows the different views of the story’s ending. But reading that most people think it’s not Fritz. But one of the main theme of this story is supernaturalism. Which I believe is true. I also read your summary and it’s good. Keep up the good work.

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