Rajam and Mani by R.K. Narayan

In Rajam and Mani by R.K. Narayan we have the theme of conflict, jealousy, fear, friendship and loyalty. Taken from his Swami and Friends collection the story is narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator and from the beginning of the story the reader realizes that Narayan may be exploring the theme of conflict. Despite the calm environment that Mani and Swaminathan find themselves in by the Sarayu River there is an air of menace coming from Mani. He does not like Rajam who has just started in the same school as Mani and Swaminathan. If anything Mani is jealous of Rajam because he is better than him in school and appears to make friends easily. He does not prejudge people either. Something that Mani is guilty of doing when it comes to Rajam. This only furthers the conflict between the two boys with Swaminathan acting as an intermediary.  In order to help both boys to come to some form of agreement. In reality Mani and Rajam are very similar. They are both stubborn and prone to match each other’s actions.

Something that is noticeable to the reader by each action that Mani takes towards Rajam. It is mirrored by an action by Rajam. Whether it is poking one another or calling each other names, both boys act similar to one another. In fact so like-minded are both boys that the reader is surprised that neither boy has already made friends with the other. However this does occur when the conflict between both boys reaches its height. It is also interesting that Mani turns on Swaminathan when he thinks that Swaminathan is not being loyal to him. With the reality being that Swaminathan longs to be friends with both Mani and Rajam.

There may also be some symbolism in the story which might be important. The story begins with a description of the River Sarayu and what is striking is how peaceful the environment is. This is in total contrast to Mani’s plans for dealing with Rajam.  The fear that Swaminathan encounters is also in contrast to how the other two boys are acting with neither one prepared to back down. This may be significant as it suggests that the boys are not afraid of one another whereas Swaminathan is very much afraid of what Mani might do to him if Swaminathan does not take his side. The fact that Rajam’s father is a police inspector might also be important as it introduces the rule of law into the story. Mani knows that he is in the wrong and as he is also driven by fear by what might happen him if he hurts Rajam. He inevitably backs down from taking any action against Rajam.

The end of the story is interesting and much to Swaminathan’s delight all three boys become firm friends. Something that was not perceivable at the start of the story. Narayan masterfully manages to turn an obstacle between Mani and Rajam into a positive for all three boys. Allowing for them to be friends despite the adversity that Mani and Rajam once faced when it came to liking one another. It is a testament to the boys’ abilities to overcome adversity that should also be admired. What has been a difficult and if not irreparable situation has rectified itself and Swaminathan has a new friend that he does not have to hide his liking for. All three boys have gained something special, friendship.

Cite Post
McManus, Dermot. "Rajam and Mani by R.K. Narayan." The Sitting Bee. The Sitting Bee, 9 Aug. 2022. Web.

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