How Far Is the River by Ruskin Bond
In How Far Is the River by Ruskin Bond we have the theme of determination, aspirations, struggle, drive, freedom, independence and doubt. Taken from his Collected Short Stories collection the story is narrated in the first person by a young unnamed boy and after reading the story the reader realises that Bond may be exploring the theme of determination. The young boy never gives up on his goal of reaching the river. Though he tires and struggles on his journey he remains determined to reach the river. It is as though his goal is all that he is focused on. Nothing else matters. This may be important as it suggests that the young boy has drive along with determination. He does not give up when the young girl tells him that the river is twenty miles away. He remains as he always does throughout the story focused on his destination. Which may be the point that Ruskin is attempting to make. He may be suggesting of highlighting to the reader that should a person have a goal in life. They too can achieve it no matter how much of a struggle it may feel at times. Anything is possible. As can be seen from the young boy when he walks from his home to the river in his bare feet.
The fact that the boy chooses to walk bare foot may also be important as Bond could be exploring the theme of freedom. The boy is not allowing for his feet to be hampered by the wearing of shoes. It is as though he wishes for his feet to be as free as he feels. It might also be important that the boy’s path is only impinged by natural obstacles as this would suggest that the boy is pitting his will against the elements he finds in front of him. He will not allow his freedom to be overshadowed by anything he might find as an obstacle when he is travelling to the river. Where some might feel disillusioned by the fact they have been told it is twenty miles to the river. The boy feels free enough in himself not to be deterred. Similarly when the old man asks the boy is he walking to the river on his own? The boy again feels not only free of any hindrance but independent enough to make the journey. Again he will not be beaten by any obstacle that is put in front of him.
The village boy may also be important particularly the role he plays. In many ways his company helps the boy when he has moments of doubt. The boy has taken on a huge challenge for someone his age. So talking to the village boy helps lift his spirits for a while. The doubt that the boy feels is also natural. It is to be expected that he has doubts when he has never made the journey to the river before. In all likelihood the boy has probably never traveled far from his own village or home. Something that makes the journey to the river even more impressive. Though as readers we know that others have been to the river and that is how the boy learned about the river. The sense of adventure for the boy is unparalleled with anything else he has done or achieved. The boy’s aspiration to reach the river, particularly by bare foot, is something that should be admired. Though it is dangerous and the boy doesn’t really know how far the river is. He still nonetheless is showing great strength and courage.
The end of the story is interesting as it feels as though the boy comes across the river in an instant. As soon as the boy discovers the river it is as though the challenges he faced are forgotten. He has received his reward which seems to far outweigh the efforts the boy has made. There is also a feeling that the boy will make the journey again such is the delight he feels at finally finding the river. The river itself may also be symbolic. Often in literature water is used to symbolise life. If Bond is using water to symbolise life he may be suggesting that not only is the boy happy about reaching his destination but he also may have grown in some way. Though we never know the boy’s exact age. We do know that he is young. In many ways Bond may be suggesting that the boy has not only matured a little but he is able to stand on his own two feet. He is independent of others. Something that is also noticeable by the fact that his parents have trusted him to stay home alone. Not only does the boy achieve his goal but he has overcome every obstacle that has been put in front of him. When he was in doubt he persevered. When he felt lonely he carried on. Driven by his strong desire to reach the river.