The Thief by Ruskin Bond
In The Thief by Ruskin Bond we have the theme of aspirations, connection, trust, betrayal, friendship, guilt, change, kindness and honesty. Taken from his Collected Short Stories collection the story is narrated in the first person by a young boy called Deepak and after reading the story the reader realises that Bond may be exploring the theme of aspirations. Deepak seems to return the money to Arun’s mattress for two reasons. The first being that he begins to feel guilty about his actions and secondly because he has aspirations to be able to write. Something that Arun has promised to teach Deepak to do. This may be important as Deepak knows that learning to write is worth more than the one hundred rupees that he has stolen from Arun. It is also possible that Deepak knows that he is betraying Arun by robbing the money particularly when Arun has shown Deepak nothing but kindness. It is as though both Arun and Deepak have formed a friendship which makes it harder for Deepak to steal from Arun. If anything Deepak knows that by robbing Arun not only is he missing out on the chance to learn how to write but he is also betraying Arun.
Symbolically the living arrangements that Arun and Deepak find themselves in may be important as by having such small accommodation Bond may be suggesting that both Arun and Deepak are connected in some way. They have begun a friendship with the promise by Arun that he will look after Deepak as soon as he starts receiving money. It may also be a case that Bond is highlighting how some children like Deepak where forced to rob people in order to survive. With little or no help being provided by the state. For Deepak robbing has become something that he naturally does which may suggest that he has been practising his craft for a long time. Even though he is still only a young boy necessity might be dictating that Deepak has to rob in order to survive. There is also a sense that Arun is aware that he is paying too much for his food and that Deepak is profiting from going to the shops for him. However Arun doesn’t seem to mind. This could be important as Arun might realise that Deepak is only trying to make a little bit of money for himself albeit at Arun’s expense. It could also suggest that Arun completely trusts Deepak. Something which may raise suspicions with some readers.
The fact that Deepak does feel guilty about robbing Arun could also be a turning point in the story as the reader senses that Deepak has begun to realise that other things are more important than money. Things like being able to write whole sentences. It is as though Deepak is placing an emphasis on learning to write over his traditional outlook on life in whereby he steals as much as he can from others. If anything Deepak may have become a changed man after he has robbed the one hundred rupees from Arun. The money will last a short while but Deepak knows that an education will last him a life time. It is to Deepak’s advantage to return the money to Arun before he notices that it is gone. For the first time in the story Deepak takes the steps to make a change in his life. A change that the reader realises will be for the better. With an education Deepak knows he can be something more than a thief. His outlook on life will change and so too will his prospects.
The end of the story is also interesting as the reader is left suspecting that Arun is aware that the money has been taken and then returned. However what is interesting is that he doesn’t challenge Deepak. Instead he gives him five rupees and tells him and that he will be able to pay him more often. If anything the reader senses that Deepak’s honesty by returning the money has paid off. He will have his own money to spend and maybe have a little to save too. He will also be educated by Arun which as mentioned will change Deepak’s life. By doing something that was alien to him, returning the money, Deepak’s life has changed for the better. He has a roof over his head. Arun will pay him regularly and Deepak will learn how to write. One man’s kindness to another has meant that Deepak now has an opportunity in life. He will no longer have to live on his wits or add to the scars on his face. Which the reader suspects are from the beatings Deepak got from people he attempted to rob. By living his life honestly Deepak has begun to see the benefits. Thanks to Arun’s generosity Deepak now has a chance in life. He can be whoever he wants to be. Without having to steal from others.