Fruition at Forty by R.K. Narayan
In Fruition at Forty by R.K. Narayan we have the theme of conflict, doubt, anxiety, disappointment, responsibility, control and acceptance. Taken from his Under the Banyan Tree and Other Stories collection the story is narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator and after reading the story the reader realises that Narayana may be exploring the theme of doubt. Though it is Rama Rao’s fortieth birthday he is not looking forward to it. At first he was excited but once he noticed that his purse had been robbed doubt about his birthday began to slip into his mind. The reader sensing that Rama Rao does not really feel as though he has achieved anything of significance in his forty years or at least things have not gone as he had planned. The most notable point being that he does not own his home and that he has gotten married. Despite vowing at twenty that he would never marry. There is also a sense that Rama Rao feels as he has let himself down. Something that his family would not agree on. As they prepare to give Rama Rao gifts for his birthday.
If anything with the doubt that Rama Rao feels about his birthday comes worry and anxiety. He is already looking towards the future and knows that he will have to provide a dowry for his daughter’s wedding. This might be important as rather than living in the day and enjoying it. Rama Rao is projecting his thoughts into the future. There is also a sense that Rama Rao may feel as though his life is not under his control. He has responsibilities to others. Which he imagined he would never have. It is also possible that Rama Rao does not feel as though he has reached the aspirations he set out for himself when he was twenty and he may be actually disillusioned with life. Despite the fact that life is not all bad for Rama Rao. He has a steady job, a regular income and in all probability a family who love him. However Rama Rao is unable to see this. Though some critics might suggest that Rama Rao is suffering with self-pity this may not be the case. The reality could be that Rama Rao may genuinely believe that the life he is living and the goals he has set himself when he was younger do not match.
Which may leave some readers to suspect that Rama Rao is disappointed with how his life has turned out. However there are some achievements which the reader suspects that Rama Rao is proud of. The fact that he has lived longer than is expected is something that Rama Rao can be proud of. Also Rama Rao has taken complete charge of his life. He has raised a family and he has stayed by their side. Where many men who might feel disillusioned with life would abandon their family. Rama Rao doesn’t. Without him knowing it Rama Rao has grown as a person since he set out his plans for his life at twenty. No longer is he thinking just of himself instead he is honouring his commitment to his family. As the years have passed things have changed for Rama Rao and this is what may have caused him to be full of doubt. Aspirations that a person has at twenty may never be fulfilled. That is simply life. People and their ideas change as they develop as person. Which is very much the case when it comes to Rama Rao.
He may never have intended to have gotten married or had a family but that is the position he finds himself in and he appears to accept this. He may for a moment dislike it when he reminisces about his goals as a younger man but the important thing is that Rama Rao accepts his position. Something that is clearer to the reader by the fact that Rama Rao does not wish to worry his wife about his purse being stolen. Rama Rao if anything is thinking of others. He is putting his wife and her feelings before his own. The end of the story is also interesting as Narayan appears to be further exploring the theme of acceptance. By going back to work rather than taking the day off for his birthday Rama Rao is accepting the position he finds himself in. He is not placing a marker on his birthday as he knows that as life progresses things will inevitably change. Just as Rama Rao’s life changed between the years of twenty and forty. Rama Rao also knows that he has no control over what the future will bring which may be the reason that he accepts the position he finds himself in. Life may not have worked out as Rama Rao had planned it but nonetheless he has shown himself to be a dedicated family man who will not give up his responsibilities.