The Apprentice (1974) probes deeper into the inner consciousness of individual with a view to explore, what the novelist calls, “that mysterious underworld” on one hand and on the other, he tries to focus on the decaying moral values in society. In this novel, he rendered in a confessional form a telling commentary on the decaying values of a degenerating civilization. It is a story of a young man who out of sheer exhaustion of joblessness and privation is forced to shed honesty and the old world morality of his father to become an ‘apprentice’ to the corrupt civilization. The Apprentice condemns materialistic values but in its own unique way. The novelist has used monologue and narration to ...view middle of the document...
He too, toyed with the idea of following his father and was willing to sacrifice everything without any promise of reward and success. But his mother a poor and tubercular woman, advises him to earn money: Don’t fool yourself, son…..Man without money was a man without worth. Many things were great in life, but the greatest of them all was money. (Joshi19)She further tells him, It was not patriotism but money – that brought respect and bought security .Money made friends Money succeeded where all else failed. There were many laws but money was law unto itself. (Joshi19)Ratan is in a fix regarding his choice between the two conflicting philosophies-one shown by his idealist father and the other by his practical mother.
Like Ratan one is alienated in this phony world, unless one accepts and adjusts to the quilt of the modern society in order to belong. Today, in all walks of life, there is chaos, confusion, corruption, hypocrisy and absurdity. The modern man endowed with superb sensitivity feels powerless and alienated from his own self as well as his surroundings. He seems to be a victim of the modern de-humanized world which does not suit his temperament and all efforts for adjustment prove suicidal to him. He, therefore, takes a bold step to reject the ways of the so-called civilized world and tries his best to discover some meaning of his existence. This scenario presents two sets of individuals –one who after the inner dilemma and struggle decides a totally different course of life – the course lead to positive and creative side to face all situations boldly and the other set of individuals takes recourse to crime, corruption, suicide or the worst form - the cases of extended suicide.
The novel enacts three stages in human divine comedy of Ratan. The pre-independence period is the dawn, the period of idealism, the phase of innocence, the post –independence India is the broad daylight of experience, the inferno of corruption, the last part the area of expiation, is the door to purgatory. (Prasad 65)
Thus the novel presents a psychological study into innocence, experience and expiation of the protagonist’s life.
Ratan , however ,discovers soon that the honor of being the son of a freedom fighter has no practical value whatsoever in this materialistic world. The people, for whom his father had squandered his life time, forget him within a year. He moves out of his village and goes in search of a job in the metropolis of Delhi .He leaves his home hoping to be worthy of his father and his ideals. But gradually his ideals got tainted in the competitive urban environment. Embittered with a bleak future, without influential connections ,Ratan undergoes a humiliating experience as he is rejected and jeered at while hunting for a job .All his education and intelligence do not help him. Then he learns to keep up appearances by discarding even ordinary decency and friendship.
Ultimately, with the help of a room-mate at the inn, he gets a job of a...