Raka's name is ironic because Raka is the Sanskrit word for 'moon', but Raka is nothing like her namesake: she is neither calm, nor radiant, nor round-faced. Rather, she is slim, sickly, and yellow from her bout of typhoid. Nanda Kaul feels that she looks like an insect with her thin legs and large eyes. It is also ironic as in Hindu mythology the moon is a god associated with calmness and grace, whereas Raka is usually dirty, inelegant, and scrappy.
Verbal Irony: Coolie
The narrator offers a brief bit of verbal irony in a comment about Carignano's earlier history, in which a piece of the roof of the house, built by an Englishman, flies off in the wind and knocks off a coolie's head. The narrator writes, "Eventually the roof was replaced—but not the coolie's head" (6). It's a wry, ironic comment that reinforces the violence the English wreaked on India.
Situational Irony: Nanda Kaul and Raka
Initially, Nanda Kaul is not thrilled about Raka's visit, resenting having someone else around. Ironically, Raka feels exactly the same, and it is their similarity that puts them in conflict with one another: Nanda Kaul "eyed the child with apprehension now, wondering at this total rejection, so natural, instinctive and effortless when compared to her own planned and wilful rejection of the child" (47).
Dramatic Irony: Ila Das
By the time we get to Ila Das's imminent visit, we already know a bit about her, especially the fact that she is a little pitiful and clearly worships Nanda Kaul. Thus, it is ironic when Nanda Kaul suggests Ila Das come to the house the next day and Ila Das replies, "you simply have no idea how my days are spent, how busy, how impossible—tomorrow, did you say?...Yes, well, tomorrow then" (103). Ila Das wants nothing more than to come to Nanda Kaul's house: she would drop everything to do so, and she is not busy.
Fire on the Mountain Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Fire on the Mountain is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
Raka is left to Nanda after her parents, an abusive father and oppressed mother, move to Geneva while she is still sickly after having recovered from Typhoid. She is unlike other children and instead of looking for company of other children, finds...