In 'the English Teacher' the profound writer R.K. Narayan gently probes the reader trying, in earnest, to "revolutionize" ideas on education. He challenges them by questioning what education truly means and the purposed of it. While it is true that in the novel, education poses a threat to Krishna's journey for growth, it is also only through education that he attains his goal. However there are two systems of education presented in the novel: the British system and the "Leave Alone" System. In his journey for growth Krishna must renounce one and come to respect the other.
The novel opens with Krishna's confession that he feels a "vague" sort of "self disaffection", a constant sense that "something was missing." He says that he knows he is not doing his life's work as a teacher for the British Albert Mission College. Krishna, once a pupil at the very school, seems to be full of "inertia".
He knows that he is unhappy and yet cannot change it. Very Western in his ideals, Krishna's main source of satisfaction from his job is his 100 rupee salary. He did not do the job "out of love for the boys" or out of love for Shakespeare but "only out of a love for myself." Later in the novel he cynically criticizes the schoolmaster saying "who looks for contentment in their work." Krishna's materialistic way of life has stifled his ability to grow.
Narayan fuels this perspective early on as he presents us with the story of the "jasmine plant" which Krishna took care of as a pupil. The plant needed help to grow and so Krishna constructed a bamboo stile to help it along. The plant seems almost reflective of Krishna who needs the bamboo of the Leave Alone System to activate his stagnant...