The Blue Hills Where the Sun Never Sets by Hugh Gantzer
In The Blue Hills Where the Sun Never Sets by Hugh Gantzer we have the theme of imperialism, change, tradition, power and control. Narrated in the first person by an unnamed woman the reader realises from the beginning of the story that Gantzer may be exploring the theme of imperialism. Life in the mountains has not changed despite India claiming independence. The lives of those in the tea plantations carries on regardless and a lot of the daily activities of the gentry still revolve around British traditions, despite the Indian heritage that exists. The narrator herself, though Indian, is part and parcel of this tradition and there is no sense that she is looking for change. This may be important as Gantzer may be suggesting that the narrator is more inclined towards imperial rule over self-governed rule. In fact nothing has changed in Nilgiris even though Mrs Carter is the only Briton to still live there. Imperialism and its remnants still thrive.
How important imperialism or the remnants of imperialism are is also noticeable by the Staff College’s presence. Young Indian men still talk as though they are under British rule. Their accents remain tinged in colonialism despite the passing of time. It is possible that Gantzer could be using the accent of the young officers to suggest that all that has changed in India is who actually rules India now. Traditions of the past still remain. There does not seem to be a political breakaway from Britain in the sense that India is developing and making its way on its own two feet. Even the narrator is happy to live in the past and enjoys all the British inspired festivities that are on offer. It is also noticeable that some of the British people who live in the mountains long for a return to British rule. It is as though they feel lost in an independent India. Though the reality is they shouldn’t feel lost at all. The British remain powerful in India.
There may also be some symbolism in the story which might be important. The setting for example. The story is set high in the mountains and the narrator endures a climb to reach her destination. It is possible that Gantzer is using the climb to symbolically suggest that India itself has a long and hard climb in order to be truly independent from Britain. Those in authority may have changed in places but traditionally things remain very British and European. The fact that the narrator makes several references to the tea plantations could also be important as there may be a hint that Gantzer is relaying to the reader the fact that the British and Europeans remain very much in control and active in India.
The end of the story is also interesting as there is a sense, at least for the narrator that things will not change. The footprint of imperialism will remain or as the narrator puts it ‘there are some places where the sun never sets.’ Which may be the driving factor for Gantzer. He may be urging Indians to completely breakaway from Britain. In fact the story could be a lesson for all those countries that were once under colonial rule and how important it may have been in the early days of independence to start out afresh. Rather than relying on the foundations of imperial rule. Even today India would have traits that remain as though they were still under colonial rule. Something that Gantzer explores by way of the building of the Staff College. In reality absolutely nothing has changed in the mountains. Like freedom it is a difficult place to ascend to and Gantzer unfortunately does not make for it (freedom) to be sought. Which may leave some readers suspecting that Gantzer is not only highlighting how traces of colonialism still remain but that he is also disappointed that it does. Something that is understandable for those who may have lived under imperial rule. Starting afresh can be a difficult path but one is never free by just adopting the past as the road for the future. Independence means deciding for yourself on the direction you wish to take. Not just merely taking a template from the past.