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?

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Growth and Development•Krishna's 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.Death•Fate 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.Education•The novel also compares Western and Eastern educational methods. The British education system as exhibited by the novel's protagonist seems to be not so much about helping the boy's to succeed (Krishna's 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 Education•According to Webster's 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 Leela's 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.Colonialism•The English Teacher is a social commentary on colonialism in India during the last few years of British rule before the attainment of independence on the 15th August 1947.•The book contains strong anti-colonial sentiments as expressed, for example, by Krishna on page 2 where he confronts Gajapathy on the unrealistic expectations of the British principal who expects his pupils to write and speak English flawlessly while he, after living in India for thirty years has made no attempt to learn any of the over two hundred languages spoken there. The double standard by which the boys are expected to...

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