STUDY NOTES: THE ENGLISH TEACHER BY R.K. NARAYAN What themes are central to the novel? How can the complex symbols and motifs used be deciphered?
Growth and DevelopmentKrishnas growth begins with the arrival of his wife and child. Susila introduces him to the pastoral traditions of the past. Furthermore, the visit from his mother also begins his indoctrination into his culture.
Krishna has to withdraw from reality to achieve growth.
DeathFate is an important aspect of the philosophical process.
The novel discusses the boundaries to human power and Western science indicating that there is a limit to human understanding.
While in Eastern cultures death is celebrated as a new beginning and life elsewhere, Krishna sees death as the end-a typically Western view indicating his ignorance and weakness of mind.
EducationThe novel also compares Western and Eastern educational methods. The British education system as exhibited by the novels protagonist seems to be not so much about helping the boys to succeed (Krishnas keeping boys occupied and not teaching).
Krishna blatantly exclaims on page 8 that were it not for the 100 rupees he would not be a teacher.
Perspectives on EducationAccording to Websters dictionary, to educate is to develop skill, knowledge or characters of. Education is described as the process of teaching or educating.
Knowledge arises in the mind of an individual when the person interacts with an idea or experience. There are two contrasting theories on knowledge. One dictates that knowledge exists with a person and needs to be unlocked. Accordingly, Socrates argued that education was about drawing out what was already in the student. This is the method of education undertaken by the schoolmaster Leelas nursery. The Eastern method. The opposing perspective on knowledge argues that knowledge exists apart from the human thought process. Socrates opponents, the Sophists- a group of itinerant teachers- were thought to give their students knowledge.
ColonialismThe English Teacher is a social commentary on colonialism in India during the last...