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.