The Lost Child by Mulk Raj Anand
In The Lost Child by Mulk Raj Anand we have the theme of desire, materialism, connection, kindness, desperation, acceptance and security. Taken from his Selected Short Stories collection the story is narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator and from the beginning of the story the reader realises that Anand may be exploring the theme of desire. The young unnamed boy as he is walking with his parents asks his parents for many things. None of which his parents will buy for him. As to why this may be is uncertain though it may be a case that neither parent wishes to spoil their son. Though some critics might also suggest that both parents are being frugal or mean. However it might be important to remember that the boy himself does not necessarily consider his parents mean. He willingly accepts the fact that his parents are refusing to buy him the thing that the wants. It is also possible that Anand is placing a spotlight on materialism. The things that the boy wants. Though they may be important to him are not necessarily things that he needs. It is also clear to the reader that the boy wants several things and not just one item. This does not suggest that the boy is greedy rather Anand may be highlighting the fact that the boy is excited by everything he sees.
It might also be a case that the parents have an expectation for their son to learn to enjoy the festival of spring without being side tracked by the vendors whose sole purpose is to make money. With it being possible that the vendors are only at the festival because there are potential buyers of their goods there. Anand also appears to be allowing the boy to enjoy himself even if he does not get what he wants. This is something that is noticeable by the boy’s connection to nature. If anything the boy seems to forget about everything that he might want when he is connected to nature. This too could be important as Anand may be highlighting the value of nature over materialism. Nature and what it offers to the individual is free and to many people more lasting than any product that a person might buy. Anand also appears to be using bright colours in the story to symbolically highlight the boy’s excitement. The fact that it is the festival of spring may also suggest a rebirth (for the boy) when he decides against letting the man buy him some of the things that he had previously wanted.
This could be important as the boy rather than wanting the things that he had previously wanted only wants the security of his mother and father. It is possible that by wanting the security of his family that the boy realises that the most important thing is not material possessions but rather his family. It is with his family that he feels the safest and most secure. The man who finds the boy is also an interesting character as through goodwill and kindness he is trying to help the boy. Where some would ignore the boys screams for his parents the man doesn’t. He attempts to soothe the boy’s anxiety. Though through the boy’s anxiety there is very little that the man can do for the boy. However the important thing to remember is that the man tries to help the boy while others haven’t. The fact that the boy is lost from his parents could also have some symbolical significance. It is only when a person is lost can they be found and the boy has found that the most important thing for him is his parents. He has long forgotten about the vendors and their goods. The boy’s number one priority is finding his parents.
There is also a sense that the boy is desperate to find his parents. Something that is noticeable by his continued calling out for his parents. Nothing that the man can do for the boy reassures him. Which as expected would highlight how closely connected the boy is to his parents. Though they refuses to buy him anything the boy holds no ill will towards his parents. He does not judge them for their refusal to purchase any of the goods on sale. In reality he half expects his parents not to buy him things. Which may play on the theme of acceptance. The boy knows he is not going to get the things he is looking for. It is also noticeable that at no stage in the story do the boy’s parents lose their temper with the boy when he asks for things. If anything they treat him lovingly by telling the boy ‘Come, child, come.’ This may be important as it would appear as though both parents are driven to a destination yet the boy stops on his journey and is in awe of his surroundings. Something that leaves the reader feeling as though the boy is really very innocent. The colour of the festival mesmerizes him but to his parents, who would be used to the colours around them, it is all very normal.