The Coachman’s Son by R.K. Narayan
In The Coachman’s Son by R.K Narayan we have the theme of desperation, desire, deceit, innocence, revenge, loyalty and fear. Taken from his Swami and Friends collection the story is narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator and after reading the story the reader realizes that Narayan may be exploring the theme of desperation. There is a sense that Swaminathan is desperate to get a wheel so that the can play with it. It is as though he will do anything, including stealing, in order to get the wheel. This may be significant as it highlights just how deceitful Swaminathan might be in order to get the wheel. He is prepared to break norms in order to satisfy his desire or want. Which might be the point that Narayan is attempting to make. He may be suggesting that as a child Swami might see things in black and white. He does not see anything wrong with his strong desire for the wheel and the fact he is prepared to steal and let others steal (Mani) for him. The most important thing to Swami is to get the wheel. He has but one objective.
It might also be important that Swami is dishonest when it comes to the six paise. He tells Mani that he has given the money, three times, to the Coachman however this is not the truth as Swami had no means to obtain the money in the first place. If anything this again highlights how desperate Swami is. He is prepared to not only get Mani to steal the money from his Uncle but he is also prepared to lie to his friend. Who somewhat believes Swami when he tells him that he has paid the Coachman. However Swami is not a good liar and Mani may be somewhat suspicious but this does not stop him from hatching a plan to kidnap and beat up the Coachman’s son. The reader might also notice that as the story progresses the more fear that Swami has. He may know that his lies will catch up with him hence his reluctance to go to the Coachman’s home with Mani.
There may be some symbolism in the story which might be important. The Coachman telling Swami that he can make silver and gold out of a few paise suggests not only that the Coachman is lying but that Swami is very innocent. However so desperate is Swami to get the wheel he is prepared to believe in anything. The fact that Swami lies to Mani and Rajam suggests that Swami is prepared to go to any lengths in order to get the wheel. It is his number one priority. Friends should be able to trust one another and by lying Swami is really forsaking his friendship with Mani and Rajam. The Coachman’s son is significant as he appears to highlight a way for Swami and Mani to get revenge on the Coachman. Though again it is important to remember that Swami is lying to Mani and Rajam.
The end of the story is interesting as Mani is still prepared to beat up the Coachman’s son even though Swami’s story does not make sense. So loyal is Mani to Swami that he is prepared to break the law. However Mani’s plan do not reach fruition and he and Swami are ran from the Coachman’s home. This too may be significant as Narayan might be highlighting that wrong will not win over right. We know that Swami has lied to Mani and by being chased away from the Coachman’s home we know that right will win over wrong. Despite Swami’s lies and Mani’s loyalty Swami will not get the wheel he so desperately wants.