By R K Narayan
CRIME AND PUNISHMENT
PREPRED BY SAJEENA SHUKKOOR, HSST (ENGLISH), TRIVANDRUM
1. Why did the boy make the mistake purposefully?
He knew that if he corrected the table he would get new table to study. He did not like to learn. So he made the mistake purposefully.
2. How do the parents try to bring up their child as healthy citizen?
The parents were well versed in the child-psychology theories. They insisted the child should not be repressed in any way. He should have the freedom to play. They wanted their child to grow up as a healthy citizen. They built a nursery, bought expensive toys, fitted up miniature furniture sets gave him a small pedal motor car to go about in all over the garden. They filled up his cupboard with all kinds of sweets and biscuits and wanted him to devour them moderately. They believed a great deal in leaving things that way.
3. How does the boy blackmail the teacher throughout the story?
The boy made the mistake purposefully. The teacher gave him a last chance. When the boy was obstinate, the teacher lost his control and slapped on his cheek. Only after the action he regained his vision and regretted. By the time, the boy found it a golden chance to blackmail the teacher. He felt that the teacher can be forced to dance to his tune. The teacher can be made to do whatever he liked. For this he needs to just simply tell the teacher that he will inform his parents about this torture.
4. Why does the teacher support the boy at the end of the story?
The teacher felt sympathetic. The boy looked so pathetic and desperate. So the teacher supported him and said that he had to mug only something more.
5. Is the story a satire on over-parenting?
R. K. Narayan’ Crime and Punishment can be read as a satire on over-parenting. The parents in the story are well versed in the child-psychology theories. They insist that the child should not be repressed in any way. He should have the freedom to play. They want their child to grow up as a healthy citizen. They built a nursery, bought expensive toys, fitted up miniature furniture sets gave him a small pedal motor car to go about in all over the garden. They filled up his cupboard with all kinds of sweets and biscuits and wanted him to devour them moderately. They believe a great deal in leaving things that way. At the same time, the parents want their child to get fifty in the class test and go up by double romotion. The boy is too playful that he does not want to learn. The teacher is badly in need of the thirty rupees, paid to him on every first day of the month. That is why the teacher is forced to dance to his tune. The teacher’s dilemma is presented in a humorous way. The boy is pictured as a gorilla and a tyrant. The teacher believes that instead of cajoling, beating with a cane would reform him. Though the story evokes laughter through comic situations one can feel that author stands on the teacher’s side. We feel sympathy towards the teacher. The reader may think that a cane is the best device to reform the incorrigible nature of the boy. The story satirizes the disadvantages of over-parenting convincingly.
6. Is the mischievous nature of the child the result of his loneliness? Why?
Loneliness may be a cause for the mischievous nature of the child. It may not be the sole reason. Children are of different types. Children of the same parents differ in their attitudes, character etc. Most of the kids like playing only. But in this story, if the child were put with other children, he could have learnt from the ways of other children. He would not have become this much tyrannical towards the teacher. When he sees any one child learning, at least he would also learn that learning is a task he should not avoid.
7. Justify the title of the story.
The title Crime and Punishment is a parody of the title of Dostovesky ‘s novel with the same title. The title evokes humour and sarcasm. Both the teacher and the boy commit crime and both of them punish the culprit also. The deliberate mistake the boy makes in the mathematical table is his crime. The punishment that the teacher gives is a slap on his cheek. On the other side of the picture there is the crime that the teacher does. According to the parents corporal punishment is a crime. Hence the teacher commits a crime by hitting the boy. The boy punishes the teacher by blackmailing. The teacher is forced to dance to his tune as a form of punishment. The title is apt and appropriate. It suggests the theme and message of the story as well as the humour and irony.
8. Comment on the humour in the story.
Humour, sarcasm and irony are the hallmarks of the story, Crime and Punishment by R.K. Narayan. Student-teacher relationship, parenting, need for corporal punishment etc. are the themes of the story. The mode of treatment and the humorous way of presentation make the story all the more amusing. It first makes us laugh and then think. The title Crime and Punishment is a parody of the title of Dostovesky ‘s novel with the same title. The title also evokes humour and sarcasm. Much of the comic effect is created through the graphic presentation of the events. The boy’s blackmailing is the most comic incident in the whole story. The teacher fears that the boy will tell his parents that he slapped him. So he obeys the boy’s command to be a station master. Then the teacher was forced to tell stories. The teacher’s realization that instead of cajoling, the little fellow needed an anna’s worth of cane, is a dig on over-parenting. The boy’s retort that “A soldier will shoot with a gun if he is hit”, is humorous. Thus the humour in the dialogues, incidents and characterization provides entertainment as well as food for thought.
9. Spare the rod and spoil the child was a dictum prevalent in the past. What is your opinion about it? Should there be any type of corporal punishment in a learning environment? If so, what should be the mode?
Corporal punishment is “purposeful infliction of bodily pain or discomfort by an official in the educational system upon a student as a penalty for unacceptable behavior”. It is a way of punishing the student deliberately for his or her misconduct or indiscipline, with a view to bring a desirable change in his or her behaviour. Those who advocate corporal punishment in school argue that it makes the child immediately disciplined. They think that students who are punished thus quickly come back to the classroom and learn. Such a child is reminded of his physical discomfort and pain when he wants to break the rule. He doesn’t want to be hurt anymore and thereafter he shows desirable character traits. Opponents of this idea of corporal punishment, including a number of medical and psychological experts, along with human-rights groups, argue that physical punishment is ineffective in the long term. They argue that it interferes with learning. Sometimes it leads to antisocial behaviour as well as various forms of mental distress. Child rights activists clamour that it is a form of violence that breaches the rights of children. As of 2015, many of the developed countries have abolished this practice. But corporal punishment is still used in most of India. The Delhi High Court banned its use in Delhi schools in 2000. 17 out of 29 states claim to apply the ban, though it is not strictly enforced. A number of social and cultural groups is campaigning against corporal punishment in India. In many states, corporal punishment is still practised within most schools. The State of Kerala considers it as the right of the child to enjoy learning without any form of torture. Hence schools in the government sector have given up corporal punishment. But in many schools it is still prevalent. Education is meant for the overall development of a child’s personality. Hence it should be imparted in a healthy environment. To a child, learning should be an enjoyable experience. It should not in any way tax a child’s brain. Learning takes place in a mind which is free and open. Lessons don’t enter a mind where there is fear and anxiety. Years of schooling after all should not produce criminals and psychopaths. If a student is not interested in studies, he lacks motivation. The role of the teachers and parents are to create this motivation in a child. Instead they should not inflict any cause of physical harm to the child. So no form of corporal punishment in advisable in educational institutions. Spare the rod, spoil the child, the dictum cannot be accepted hence.
PREPRED BY SAJEENA SHUKKOOR, HSST (ENGLISH), TRIVANDRUM