What’s Your Dream by Ruskin Bond
In What’s Your Dream? by Ruskin Bond we have the theme of appearance, freedom, aspirations, connection, respect and greed. Taken from his Collected Short Stories collection the story is narrated in the first person by a young unnamed boy and from the beginning of the story the reader realises that Bond may be exploring the theme of appearance. At first the narrator judges the old man by his appearance. It is as though he is shocked that the old man could ask him a question and to ask it in English too. This may be important as the shock that the narrator encounters is due to the fact that though the old man is a beggar. He is educated. Something that surprises the narrator completely. It also helps that the narrator changes his attitude towards the old man and eventually considers him to be wise. Something that leaves the reader suspecting that the narrator may actually respect the old man regardless of his initial skepticism. What is also interesting about the story is that Bond connects both the narrator and the old man. Though their dreams may have been different they are still nonetheless connected by their aspirations and hopes.
The fact that the old man also tells the narrator about how he lost everything through greed could be significant. As he may be suggesting that an individual should not get carried away when it comes to attempting to achieve their dreams or goals. Though it is important for an individual to have a dream they must also ensure that they do not get greedy. Something which has happened to the old man. He lost sight of his dream and wanted more than he really needed. If anything the old man may have been chasing power and control. While at the same time affecting others. Which may be the point that Bond is attempting to make. He may be suggesting that an individual should not under any circumstances impose their will on another person in order to achieve their dreams. Each individual should be treated with the respect that one themselves would expect to be shown. It is not appropriate to have an unwarranted influence over others while pursuing ones dreams. The reader suspecting that the old man learnt this lesson the hard way and eventually lost everything.
If anything the old man gives the narrator direction and a voice. Something that is noticeable by the fact that the narrator eventually achieves his goal of having his own room. Though with one dream always comes another and the reader suspects that the narrator may have gotten his room a little too easily (by demanding it). He will not succeed in other dreams he may have by simply demanding things. Dreams involve hard work and as of yet the narrator has not been seen to do any hard work. Though this is not to take away from his good fortune when it comes to achieving his dream of getting his own room. It’s simply a case that other dreams will not be as easy to achieve. The narrator also has to follow the old man’s words and remember not to thread on others when chasing his dreams. Something that some critics may suggest has happened when the narrator got his own room. It is possible that the narrator’s brothers and sisters likewise had aspirations to have their own room and it could simply be luck that the narrator got his own room. Either way the narrator is happy.
How long the narrator’s happiness will last is another thing. It is important for him to remember what the old man has taught him. Otherwise the narrator is prone to making the same mistakes as the old man. It is better to have achieved something simple like the narrator having his own room. Than to have everything only to lose it all. Something that the old man himself forgot while he pursued his own dreams. Though the narrator is happy at the moment it is only a matter of time before he longs for or dreams of something else he would like. Should he follow the old man’s advice he will be a happy. However should he get as greedy as the old man did then he will only end up like the old man. Reliant on the charity of others. It is also important for the narrator not to take for granted the fact that he now has his own room particularly when it comes to achieving any other dreams that the narrator might have. The narrator now has freedom and with freedom comes responsibility. Though the narrator has learnt so much from the old man. The learning process has only really begun for the narrator. He will not always be able to demand or insist on his dreams being fulfilled. He has to do as the old man told him and work for them.