The Tiger King
1) Genre of writing : Satire, Comedy
a) Style of writing tongue in cheek, sarcasm, makes use of literal irony and dramatic
b) Subject of Satirical attack: The Tiger King is the subject of this satirical attack.
The writer attacks bureaucratic system through the Tiger King, he makes fun
of the hierarchical system people in high positions follow. Kalki makes fun of
the vanity, and obsession of powerful people with all things foreign. The writer
makes it a point to describe how the relationship that exists between the Boss
and his minions is based not on mutual trust, but fear, fear of being transferred
or losing one’s job. Suffice it to say that The Tiger King is a satirical comment on
the existing Bureaucratic society of the country.
2) Theme: Crime and punishment / Divine Retribution/Harming Nature will lead
to serious consequences.
Message: You can not harm nature and then expect to go scot free, even if you
are a Maharaja. The Tiger King was aware of the fact that even he did not have
the right of killing tigers, so he made use of the excuse of ‘Self Defense’ to kill a
3) Important Characters:
a) The Tiger King- a prodigy who speaks age of ten days. A gentleman of the
highest order who is obsessed with a long title like His Highness Jamedar-Gen-
eral, Khiledar-Major, Sata Vyaghra Samhari, Maharajadhiraja Visva Bhuvana
Samrat, Sir Jilani Jung Jung Bahadur, M.A.D., A.C.T.C., or C.R.C.K.! He is vain,
self obsessed, obsessed about killing a hundred tigers even if it means
abdicating his responsibility towards the state, and in many ways, The Tiger
is a stereotype an equivalent for the rather proud but vain Bureaucrat!
The Tiger King is obsessed with defeating fate for the express reason
that he is afraid that what the astrologers might after all come true.
b) Dewan Saheb-A rather confused and nervous Chief Minister who is often
terrified of his Master, the Tiger King. Their are two dialogues that figure
in the story. The first is when the Tiger King tells the Dewan that he wants
to get married and the Dewan shudders at the sight of the gun in the
Maharaja’s hand and he is so nervous and intimidated by the Maharaj that
he is depicted as a typical laughing stock, a babbling and blathering idiot.
It takes, however the threat of sacking the Dewan that makes the Dewan
regain his senses and this is when we see him as not so foolish! He had
arranged for an old tiger to be brought from the People’s Park in Madras
to be delivered to him so that he could present it to the Maharaja to be shot.
c) The Hunters- these are down to earth people who fear the Maharaja so much
they dare not inform him that he had missed hitting the tiger lest they should
lose their jobs. One of them takes aim at the tiger and shoots him and
thereafter they become ready participants in the procession carrying the
dead body of the tiger into town. Their relationship with the Maharaja is not
based on trust.
d) The shopkeeper-He too like the Dewan and the Hunters is a minion who
lives in fear of his Master, the Maharaja. He inflates the cost of the wooden
tiger because he ‘knew that if he quoted such a low price to the Maharaja
he would be punished under the rules of the Emergency’ and so he quotes
the price of the tiger as ‘three hundred rupees’!
1.Genre: War fiction/philosophy/long reading text-Novel
a) Style of writing: prosaic, part of a novel. Pearl S.Buck has adopted a prosaic
style of writing suitable for writing long texts like novels and novellas. Her
writing is marked by regular paragraphs and dialogues interspersed in
between. Pearl S.Buck has used a straightforward style of writing.
2. Theme of the Lesson: The higher laws of humanity are greater than the
divisive Laws of patriotism. The lesson deals with the themes of pacifism,
universal brotherhood, and humanity ideals that go beyond the narrow laws of
patriotism, and loyalty to the nation.
Message: There are moments in life when we have to make difficult choices in
life. In such instances it is better to be guided by the higher laws of humanity.
The lesson showcases the ability of human beings to rise above narrow barriers
that divide people and nations on the basis of nationality, language and
geography. This is what marks some human beings as being different. Sadao and
Hana chose to save the white sailor knowing well that they stood the risk of being
labelled traitors and that if Sadao was caught, then he would surely be thrown into
prison, and both husband and wife chose to safe Tom’s life. They chose humanity
over the narrow laws of patriotism. This is what made them different from the
3. Characters in the lesson:
a) Dr. Sadao a skilful surgeon who is discovering ways to render wounds
completely clean. He was also treating the Japanese General and so was
indispensible to the latter. Being educated in America he has a broader
perspective about life he is therefore different from the other Japanese
excluding his wife, Hana. He is dedicated to his profession and thus for him the
priority is to save lives. Dr. Sadao gives due importance to the higher laws of
humanity. He is however, guilty of being a traitor towards his country because
of sheltering ‘The Enemy’. Dr. Sadao’s guilt however is less than that of
General Takima. If Dr.Sadao betrayed the country, it was for no selfish reason, it
was just to save a life.
b) Hana, Dr. Sadao’s wife stands firmly beside him. She supports him in every
way possible even if it means taking up all the household chores after
the servants have left. She, along with her husband is most affected by
the presence of Tom. The stress seems to eat into her emotionally. Hana
like her husband has studied in America and so she has a different outlook
than the servants. Hana is a symbol for loyalty, faith, and sincere love
for her husband. If it wasn’t for her, then Sadao wouldn’t probably have
given shelter to Tom. She is steadfast patient and dignified in all circumstances.
c) The servants: They represent the common people who lived in Japan in
those times, humble, modest, ordinary, simple and thus superstitious. They
seem to have all the answers to the difficult questions that play around in
Dr. Sadao and Hana’s minds – just let the white sailor die! The servants are
by the Gardener who has served the household the longest. He believes
Sadao should not have saved Tom’s life since it would bring them great
misfortune. According to him, ‘If the master heals what the gun did and what
the sea did they will take revenge on us.’ He also believes that ‘That young
master is so proud of his skill to save life that he saves any life’ but then that
is exactly what a Doctor is expected to do!
d) Tom is the white sailor who has been washed ashore in a bad state. Badly
bruised and battered by the rocks he also suffers from a gunshot wound.
A victim of brutality and torture at the hands of his captors (The
gunshot wound and the rope burn marks around his neck are proof enough
that he has been a victim of cruelty and torture), it is a miracle how he has
survived so much punishment. He is perhaps the reason why the whole
story takes place. A young boy of about sixteen, he encapsulates within him
the desire to live against all odds, the ‘miracle boy’ who survived all odds.
e)General Takima is in many ways a foil to Dr. Sadao. While both of them
have studied in America, his education abroad has however not made
General Takima sensitive towards life. Hana ‘remembered’ such men as him
‘who at home beat his wife cruelly’ and she wonders if he would not be cruel
to a prisoner like Tom. General Takima is like Dr. Sadao, equally guilty of
treason, breaking the laws of the land and not reporting the presence
Tom in Dr. Sadao’s house. However what makes General Takima’s guilt
greater than that of Dr. Sadao for the very fact that the reason for not
reporting the presence of Tom to the authorities was that if he did so, then
Dr. Sadao would be arrested and then there would be no one to treat him.
General Takima is guilty of the crime of treason as well as the crime of being
selfish and putting himself before the state. There is another motive behind
his not informing the authorities, and that is that as long as Tom remains
in Dr. Sadao’s house, he will have leverage over Dr. Sadao and will be able
to manipulate him easily, that is another reason why the assassins don’t
turn up finally. The General might be accused of not only lack of patriotism
but also dereliction of duty. He is a coward who beats his wife at home, and
tortures prisoners on the battlefield but is himself frightened of pain and
suffering caused by his ailment!
f) Dr. Sadao’s father, although we don’t get to see him as a living figure is
an important character who makes his presence felt as an ultra-nationalist,
conservative and orthodox person who believes in Japanese hegemony;
the right of one country to rule over the whole world. He represents the
a belief in racial superiority and the concept of the super race that was the
driving force behind the second world war. It is ironical that Dr.Sadao and
Hana put Tom in Dr. Sadao’s room.
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