The Fight by Ruskin Bond
In The Fight by Ruskin Bond we have the theme of conflict, friendship, pride, connection and respect. Taken from his Collected Short Stories collection the story is narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator and after reading the story the reader realizes that Bond may be exploring the theme of conflict. Ranji ends up fighting Suraj for the right to swim in the pool even though Ranji knows that Suraj is bigger than him. In many ways both Ranji and Suraj are warriors fighting for pride and not allowing the other win, which makes their friendship more significant. Though the boys start off as enemies they have respect for each other through Ranji’s ability to teach Suraj how to dive and swim underwater. Suraj is prepared to share the pool with Ranji. This may be important as it suggests that Suraj is not only prepared to share with someone but he is also able to make a connection with others like Ranji.
The theme of pride is further explored in the story when Ranji tells Suraj that he is a Rajput (from the State of Rajasthan) and Suraj tells Ranji that he is a Punjabi (from the State of Punjab). Both boys are proud of their background and where they come from. Which might be the point that Bond is attempting to make. He may be suggesting that pride can be an obstacle at times and be void of any ability to help progress a friendship. Thankfully this is not the case in the story where the boys put aside their disagreement with one another and form a close bond. Though it is important to remember that the boys started off fighting first. Both being too proud of their background or heritage.
There may also be some symbolism in the story that might be important. The pool can be seen to symbolize connection. It is after all where the boys become friends and connect with one another. First negatively and then positively. The physical weakness of Ranji when it comes to the larger and stronger Suraj may also have some symbolic significance as by losing the fight Ranji knows that he has to use his own strengths to overcome the difficulties he is facing with Suraj. Something he does by diving into the pool and swimming underwater. Much to Suraj’s amazement and delight. If anything Suraj becomes an ally and a willing student no longer feeling the need to fight Ranji. He is prepared to share the pool with Ranji.
The end of the story is interesting as Suraj still feels the need to fight someone and as a pahelwan (wrestler) it is easy for the reader to understand. Suraj may have allowed Ranji to swim in the pool but he will not let anyone else. This could suggest that Suraj is allowing for his pride to continue to be an obstacle when it comes to friendship with others but it is more likely that both Suraj and Ranji are now protective of their place among those who can swim in the pool with both boys allowing the other boy to claim ownership of the pool. It is through sharing with one another that the boys are able to connect with each other. Though as mentioned neither boy is willing to share with other children. They have become a force to be reckoned with and will not be easily swayed from their stance of keeping the pool for themselves. However the most important thing to take from the story is the connection or friendship that the boys form. Bond using both boys’ love of the pool to unite them.