The M.C.C. by R.K. Narayan
In The M.C.C. by R.K. Narayan we have the theme of identity, isolation, loneliness, determination, friendship and innocence. 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 identity. Swaminathan has changed schools and does not really have any friends, something which is important to a young boy. A boy may discover his true identity from his friends and without friends to play with Swaminathan is isolated from others. Those friends that he did have remain in his old school and as such there is a sense that Swaminathan is lonely. However it is noticeable that Rajam forgives Swaminathan for his previous activities in Swaminathan’s old school and tries to involve Swaminathan in his plan to set up a cricket club.
This may be significant as it suggests that Rajam has plans for his friendship with Swaminathan. In fact the plans are so great and wonderful that Swaminathan, though he does not know how to play cricket, agrees to join the club. Similarly Mani, another friend wishes to join the club and goes as far as sitting down with Rajam and Swaminathan and going through a sporting goods catalogue. This turns out to be somewhat ridiculous or funny. Mani accuses Swaminathan of not knowing the differences between cricket bats in the catalogue. Which eventually ends up with a discussion about Rolls Royce cars and how they are different to other cars. If anything there is a sense that the boys are innocent and in too deep. An example of this is when they get a letter back from Binns who obviously want to see some of the money due for the goods ordered before they are dispatched. This causes the three friends to conclude that the letter must not be for them and return it back to Binns, stating their initial request again. What is interesting is the fact that the boys didn’t understand the language of the letter and were confused by words like ‘obliged’ and ’25 per cent.’
There may also be some symbolism in the story which might be important. The fact that Swaminathan has changed school further places an emphasis on the loneliness he feels after the debacle in his old school. As mentioned the letter from Binns can be seen to symbolize innocence and the lack of knowledge the boys have of the real world. Though they are still young and can be forgiven for this mishap. The dictionary that the boys use is a signal for the fact that the boys are willing to learn and understand that they do not necessarily know everything. How determined the boys are to play cricket, which is admirable, is that they use the compound wall of Rajam’s bungalow as a wicket. The fact that the boys send the letter back to Binns also suggests that they are determined to get the cricket goods from Binns.
The end of the story is interesting as Swaminathan’s character turns one hundred and eight degrees. He takes the wicket from Rajam on his first ball and is given the named Tate by his fellow players, named after the English cricketer Maurice William Tate. Swaminathan has friends again and no longer feels isolated or lonely. Also the M.C.C. has played their first game and the reader is aware that through the camaraderie of the boys it will be the first of many cricket matches that they play. It is also interesting that the boys overcame Pea’s inability to find his father’s wickets showing just how determined the boys were to play a game of cricket. Narayan writing of an innocent and determined group of boys who won’t let the way of the world get in their way.