The Voice of God by Premchand
In The Voice of God by Premchand we have the theme of conflict, friendship, tradition, connection, independence and responsibility. Narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator the reader realises after reading the story that Premchand may be exploring the theme of conflict and friendship. Despite their friendship Jumman and Algu fall out over Algu’s decision while he is acting as the Panchayat. It is as though one decision decides the fate of Jumman and Algu’s friendship. So hostile are relationships between both men that Algu believes that Jumman has poisoned one of his bullocks. Something which results in Algu getting into another conflict with Sahu. However when Algu goes to the Panchayat he is surprised that Jumman looks favourably upon him despite their differences. This may be important as Premchand may be suggesting that friendships can overcome conflict despite how heated or bitter the conflict may be. It is also noticeable that Jumman becomes aware of the heavy responsibility that comes with being the Panchayat. It is as though he puts aside his own differences with Algu and acts as a Panchayat should. Fairly and honestly without being swayed by personal opinion on an issue.
It may also be a case that Premchand is exploring the theme of tradition. The Panchayat would be a traditional way in which villagers resolve disputes due to their inabilities to go through a legal route because of the cost. So influential are the Panchayat’s that their judgements are considered to be the voice of God. Their judgement could also not be challenged unlike the legal system where an individual might have the right of appeal. However as is noticed in the story the role of the Panchayat can leave some (Jumman) to be bitter and feel as though they have been unfairly treated. Which is not the case when Algu acted as Panchayat. If anything Jumman and his wife have treated Jumman’s aunt with total disrespect. It is for this reason that Jumman’s aunt won he case in front of Algu when he acted as Panchayat. What is also interesting about the story is the fact that the Panchayat has the ability to connect those in the village. With each argument that is being judged by the Panchayat bringing those in the village together to witness what is happening.
It might also be important that Jumman and Algu are so different yet they are still friends as Premchand could be suggesting that one does not have to be the same as another person in order to be that person’s friend. There can be differences between people and they can continue to be friends. Something that takes Jumman a little longer to realise. Sahu’s character is also important as it is through his character that Premchand is further exploring the theme of responsibility. Sahu does not treat the bullock he has bought from Algu well. If anything he overworks the animal and is fully responsible for the bullock’s death. Though he does not wish to take responsibility for what has happened with his primary concern being to accuse Algu of selling him a sick animal rather than honouring his debt. Something that is clear to Jumman when he acts as Panchayat. It is also interesting how hostile relationships become between Jumman and Algu after Algu judges against Jumman and in favour of his aunt. Not only does Algu suspect that his bullock has been poisoned by Jumman but both their wives display open hostility towards each other when they meet in the street.
The end of the story is also interesting as Jumman has the opportunity to exact revenge on Algu however he doesn’t. This may be significant as there is a sense that Jumman realises how important the role of Panchayat is. Just as Algu had set aside his friendship with Jumman when he judged in favour of Jumman’s aunt. Likewise Jumman sets aside his dislike for Algu and judges the case fairly. If anything both men have acted independent of their relationship with one another. Not allowing for their feelings to sway their opinion. It is also interesting that it takes Jumman’s actions as the Panchayat to convince him that Algu was doing the right thing when he acted as Panchayat. It is as though Jumman has an epiphany or moment of realisation and realises that he has been blind and allowed for his friendship with Algu to end because of his own feelings and how he felt about Algu’s decision when he was Panchayat. If anything Algu’s misfortune has brought both men together again. Their friendship will continue due to the fact Jumman knows how important the role of the Panchayat is. Which may be the point that Premchand is attempting to make. He may be suggesting that though friends might fall out if they look at matters fairly and with an open mind they will reconnect again.