Train to Pakistan

Train to Pakistan Irony

Gift to Pakistan (Verbal Irony)

'Do you know,' continued the magistrate, the Sikhs retaliated by attacking a Muslim refugee train and sending it across the border with over a thousand corpses? They wrote on the engine "Gift to Pakistan!''' (Singh 34)

In retaliation for Pakistan sending convoys of dead Sikhs over the border into India, the Sikhs sent a train of dead Muslim refugees back with the words “Gift to Pakistan!” written on the train. This is an example of verbal irony because gifts are commonly nice or pleasant things given with the intention of making the recipient happy, not morbid demonstrations of violence.

Religious Tolerance (Dramatic Irony)

'Do you like their preaching Christianity in your village?'

'Everyone is welcome to his religion. Here next door is a Muslim mosque. When I pray to my Guru, Uncle Imam Baksh calls to Allah.' (Singh 57)

Early in the novel religious freedom and tolerance are facts of life in Mano Majra. As the above quote demonstrates, most villagers are accepting of one another’s religious faiths and ideologies. At this point, they have no idea of the religious strife and divisions sweeping across India. According to the subinspector, the denizens of Mano Majra don’t even know that the country was divided into Sikh India and Muslim Pakistan. All of this is an example of dramatic irony. While the people of Mano Majra are saying things like “everyone is welcome to his religion,” in the world around them people are being massacred for their religious beliefs. They have no idea about the contrast between what they believe and the true situation. They will find out soon once the first train of dead arrives in Mano Majra.

Sense of Community (Situational Irony)

How could outsiders dare do 'something' to their fellow villagers? Here was another stumbling block to logic. Group loyalty was above reason. The youth who had referred to Muslims as pigs spoke haughtily: 'We would like to see somebody raise his little finger against our tenants while we live!' (Singh 173)

Throughout Train to Pakistan the people of Mano Majra have an unparalleled sense of community. Loyalty to one’s neighbors takes precedence over most other considerations. Sometimes this loyalty is paradoxical and ironic, like in the above quote. The speaker is a Sikh youth who calls the Muslims of Mano Majra pigs and agrees with the head constable that they should leave town. However, when someone suggests that the Mano Majra Muslims could be attacked by outsiders, instead of being pleased, the youth is affronted and angry. He finds it insulting that an outsider would harm his neighbors, and immediately exclaims that he would defend them so long as he shall live. This contradicts his earlier feelings, and is an example of situational irony.

Jugga’s Heroism (Irony of Fate)

Irony of fate is when the irony goes beyond being unfair, and is morally tragic. Jugga’s choice to sacrifice himself to save Mano Majra’s Muslims is a prime example of this. The entire novel, Jugga is his town’s bad boy. Half the town criticizes him for murdering his neighbor, although he is innocent of the crime. Even before Lala Ram Lal’s murder, Jugga was a disreputable figure in Mano Majra, because of his and his family’s past. Thus, it’s highly ironic that it’s Jugga, and not Iqbal, the enlightened and educated man from the city, or one of Mano Majra’s religious leaders, who has decided to save the Muslims. The town badmash must be his town’s moral compass and uphold their lofty ideals of neighborly love and loyalty across religious lines. While commendable, his heroism is tragic, particularly when considering he has no idea his unborn child is on the train to Pakistan with his lover.