The Blind Dog by R.K. Narayan
In The Blind Dog by R.K. Narayan we have the theme of struggle, connection, greed, freedom, control and loyalty. Taken from his An Astrologer’s Day 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 Narayan may be exploring the theme of struggle. Both the blind man and Tiger have difficulties in their everyday lives. Each day the blind man struggles to get enough money to live on while Tiger struggles with getting food and ends up getting into fights with other dogs just in order to survive. It is as though both the blind man and Tiger have something in common or something that connects both of them. It is also interesting that at first the blind man is appreciate of Tiger’s company and his diligence when it comes to people trying to steal from him. However as time passes the reader soon realises that the blind man is a tyrant when it comes to how he treats Tiger. Tiger for the blind man is not a pet or friend or a helping hand rather he is a simply a work dog that is there to serve the blind man. Any type of life that Tiger had previously known is soon forgotten due to the tyranny of the blind man. If anything Tiger is there to serve the blind man just as a servant would serve their master.
It is also noticeable that the blind man starts to become greedy. He wishes to increase his daily income so he works Tiger more and more. He also starts to lend other people money while at the same time charging them interest. While some may pity the blind man because of the very fact he is blind others might suggest that the blind man is becoming greedy and taking advantage of Tiger’s good-nature. The blind man knows he will make more money by walking along the streets with Tiger leading the way and there is a sense that the main priority for the blind man is no longer just survival but he is beginning to be driven by a desire for more money. Rather than treating Tiger with kindness and being grateful that Tiger is helping him. The blind man often beats Tiger which may suggest that the blind man is being cruel.
It may also be important that others notice how the blind man is treating Tiger as by having others notice what is happening Narayan may be using their voices as a consensus to stop what is happening Tiger. The cutting of the ribbon by the ribbon vendor may also be important as symbolically this action acts as a path to freedom for Tiger. He is able to live his life as he had previously lived it. Running free. It is also noticeable after Tiger has been set free how reliant the blind man was on Tiger. He is no longer able to walk along the streets and his income drops severely. Something which causes great anguish to the blind man. At no stage in the story does the reader suspect that the blind man is repentant about his treatment of Tiger. If anything he wants to beat Tiger should he end up finding him. Which again suggests a servant and master relationship between Tiger and the blind man. Rather than a common bond of friendship between the two. If anything the relationship between Tiger and the blind man is one sided. In favour of the blind man. Yet the blind man never realises that he needs Tiger more than Tiger needs him.
The end of the story is also interesting as Narayan appears to be exploring the theme of loyalty. By returning to the blind man Tiger is showing his loyalty. Even though it is clear to the reader that nothing will change between Tiger and the blind man. Something that is noticeable by the fact that the blind man now has bought a chain to ensure that Tiger does not run away again. There is a sense that the blind man is in complete control of Tiger again. As to why Tiger has returned is difficult to say when as readers we are aware of how badly he has been treated by the blind man. However it is possible that Narayan is suggesting that just as the blind man is blind so too is Tiger’s loyalty. He is willing to forgive the blind man’s actions towards him even though he has been unfairly treated. It is also possible that Tiger has sympathy for the blind man. Even though he knows he can be cruel to him. However what is clear at the end of the story is that Tiger’s freedom has been lost again. He is to spend his days acting as a servant to an ungrateful master. Which suggests symbolically that Tiger may be as blind as the blind man. His loyalty will only end up killing him.