By R K Narayan


SUMMARY: Prepared by Joy Peter C

It is a humorous short story. This story really proves the old saying, “spare the rod and spoil the child”. It highlights the truth that over caring and over parenting spoil the child. This story brings out a comical situation between a teacher and his naughty student. The boy was preparing a test in arithmetic. The test was scheduled and the teacher was preparing the naughty student for the test. The student provokes the angry teacher by repeating the wrong answer. At last the teacher beats the little boy.  When the boy started crying the teacher becomes very upset. The boy’s parents were against giving punishments. He is afraid that the boy’s parents would know this. They were very rich. The boy was their only child and they did not like anybody beating him.  The teacher knew this truth and tried to console the boy. The boy put forward a condition before the teacher. If he allowed him to play he would not disclose the truth. At last the teacher obeyed  and the boy wanted him to play with him. The teacher became very tired and the engine of the toy train was also damaged. Then the boy wanted him to repair it. When the teacher was not ready to repair it, he demanded a story from him. The teacher became very tired after repeating many stories. Then the boy again threatens the teacher and runs to his parents. The teacher too ran after him. But he could not reach him. The teacher then stumbled to the portico step. It was at that time, the parents reached there. The teacher became very afraid and wanted to confess everything. Then the boy’s father enquired about the test and the boy became very afraid and hid behind his parents. He looked at the teacher desperately. The teacher felt sympathy  for the boy and replied that he has won the test. The boy became very happy and thankful to the teacher. The teacher also told them about the game they were playing to make him happy.  Thus this story brings so much laughter for the readers.

Possible questions:-

  1. A panel discussion on corporal punishment, “ Corporal Punishment : Is it justifiable?” was conducted in your school.  The panelist who spoke first remarked, Corporal punishment is not altogether bad. Children need some negative reinforcement when they behave in an undesirable way. Spare the rod and spoil the child is the dictum.”

Now, prepare a brief script for the next panelist who wants to counter this argument and highlight the ill-effects of corporal punishment.

  1. A) I don’t agree with the remark of the first panelist in giving corporal punishment. Corporal punishment means physical torture. Corporal punishement will influence the personality of the students.  corporal punishment is less effective. It brings a negative message. It will increase the violence in the society .It is a violation of human rights. The praise, discussions regarding values, and positive role models do more to develop character.
  2. ‘A teacher is a friend, philosopher, guide and a mentor to the student’. Analyse the character of the teacher in the story” Crime and Punishment” in the light of this statement.
  3. A) R.K Narayan in his story “Crime and Punishment”, strongly criticizes about the modern teaching methods and over-parenting. It is very difficult to handle the children nowadays. They don’t pay much respect and concern for their parents and teachers. The teacher in the story teaches the little boy with the purpose of claiming thirty rupees monthly. He is not so patient and gentle to the boy. The boy who is very naughty makes the teacher more aggressive. When the student repeats the mistake the teacher shows the boldness to punish him. In this story we can see a teacher who is blackmailed by his student. Whenever the boy blackmails, we can see a teacher who is very much afraid of his parents.He lacks the personality of a good teacher. Teacher is ready to do anything for the boy. The teacher was ready to play the role of a station master. He even runs behind him. He also appears to be a great mentor. He understands the feelings of the little boy and adjusts with him. He tells stories. He feels sorry for beating him.  The teacher was compelled to punish him after the repeated correction.In the end the teacher feels pity on the pathetic and desperate child. He saves the boy from his father saying that he was alright with arithmetics.  So the teacher in this story doesn’t  play the role of a friend, phiolosopher, guide and mentor. In reality a teacher should be a friend, philosopher, mentor and guide. But here the teacher cannot act like that. He even considers the boy as a little gorilla.
  4. A panel discussion was conducted in your school on the topic “Modern Education System-Challenges Ahead.”

Given below is an excerpt from the presentation made by the panelist during the panel discussion. Educating a child is basically a matter of caring and nurturing the child. The process of education should open new vistas of knowledge before the child. As saying goes: ‘nourish the brain through the senses’. The syllabus and transactional strategies should be designed in such a way as to make the learners consider education as a fruitful affair”.

Now prepare a brief script for presentation in the panel discussion by the next panelist highlighting the practical issues faced by the teacher in the class room and the means to be adopted to minimize this problem.

  1. A) I totally agree with the first panelist that educating a child is basically a matter of caring and nurturing the child. As a teacher, it is his duty to nourish the brain through the senses. But at present teachers face some practical issues in the class room. Traditionally teachers are encouraged to believe that learning environment should be orderly and quiet. But in the present situation learning is to be a cooperative one. Teachers are giving so much importance to activities. Students take an active role in such situation. Now the teachers give so much importance be a facilitator. But there is another side for this. Most of the teachers are not given freedom in the schools to have a free atmosphere. Teachers  are often compelled to enforce discipline in the class rooms. If any teachers punish any students for discipline, the parents complaint  against them. It makes the teacher helpless and affects their teaching career. This situation should be changed and the parents should be well conscious of the punishments the teachers give. The management or the government should give maximum freedom for the teachers to make the teaching process an effective one.


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.



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