Rabindranath Tagore: Short Stories

Rabindranath Tagore: Short Stories Imagery

The Kabuliwallah’s Daughter’s Handprint ("Kabuliwallah")

When the narrator of “Kabuliwallah” doesn't trust the Kabuliwallah's intentions, the latter shows him his daughter's handprint done in ash on a piece of paper he carries around with him. This is a pivotal image which makes the Kabuliwallah’s pathos and motivations as a heartsick father evident. Therefore, this image helps humanize this foreign man who committed a gruesome crime. It stirs great emotion in the narrator, and reminds him of the goodwill he once felt towards this former family friend.

The Skeleton's Flesh ("Skeleton")

The ghost in "Skeleton" describes her dark eyes, red lips, and curves to the narrator, as in life she was obsessed with how others perceived her beauty. By describing these features to the narrator, she is trying to bait him to praise this imagined former beauty as well. Tagore also seems well aware that we rarely think of the flesh when we picture a skeleton, and such an imaginative, evocative image draws us right into a tale told by such a vain ghost.

The Man in the Loincloth ("Thoughtlessness")

"Thoughtlessness" ends with the Doctor—feeling guilty for extoring his friend—reprimanding his cronies for letting a man who is sitting outside in the rain wearing nothing but a loincloth wait for their help while the man's daughter remains uncremated. The image of this abject individual, sitting in the rain wearing nothing because he shrouded his daughter in his clothes, is an affecting image that inspires sympathy in the reader and the Doctor alike. It's a stark, gut-wrenching depiction of India's most impoverished and neediest.

Radha's Murder ("Punishment")

As poetic of a writer as Tagore is, he also knows how to get mileage out of a simple, shocking image. Early in "Punishment," we see Dukhiram stab his wife Radha in the head during the quarrel, and the image is as sudden and disturbing as the act itself. Tagore expertly uses this graphic image to get the reader into a heightened emotional state that helps imbue the resulting story with gravity.