The Man-Eater of Malgudi Questions and Answers
- Who is the real man-eater of Malgudi?
The title of Narayan’s novel is ironic. “The Man-Eater of Malgudi” is an allegory or fable showing that evil is all pervasive and self-destructive. Here, the man-eater is no ferocious animal like tiger or lion but a mighty man, Vasu. He does not only kill a large number of wild animals in Mempi forest but can also kill a man with a single blow of his hammer-fist. He himself is the man-eater of Malgudi.
- Describe Nataraj’s press.
Nataraj ran a press having two rooms. The front room was like a parlour where Nataraj’s friends came to take rest getting tired and took any vacant seat. Caustomers also sat there. The press was in the back room where the staff, Sastri worked. The two rooms were separated by a blue curtain playing the role of a wall. None was allowed to peep through as secrecy was a sacred tradition there. Beside this press “Star press” also existed.
- Introduce Nataraj’s house and family.
Nataraj’s house was behind the press. A road separated the press in Market Road and his house in Kabir Street. His house was an ancestral property which was legally divided during his father’s life-time. After his father’s death, his mother went to Madras to stay with his elder brother. Nataraj, Babu, his wife were the main occupants of that house now.
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- How is Vasu introduced in the novel?
One day as Nataraj was working alone, a new visitor came and breaking the sacred tradition, peeped through and entered the press. Nataraj brought him back to the front parlour. He was a taxidermist, named Vasu. He wanted 500 letterheads and 500 visiting cards to be printed for him. Being asked by Nataraj, Vasu told that he was an M.A. He was inspired by a ‘phaelwan’ and could break chains, iron bars or pulverise granite. Then, from Sulieman, he perfectly learnt the true skill of taxidermy.
- Where did Vasu start to live?
There was an attic above Nataraj’s press, full of waste papers and manuscripts. Clearing the attic, Vasu made it his residence. He scrubbed the floor and whitewashed it. He took his belongings there without caring the decision of Nataraj. Nataraj was mistaken in his ideas as Vasu was to live there permanently. He made fun of visitors or Nataraj’s friends. For him, Nataraj’s mental peace was fully shattered.
- Describe the enmity between Vasu and the forest officer.
One day, Vasu brought a forest official to the press, who wanted to get his book “Golden Thoughts” printed but it never materialised. After one full week, Vasu got a brown envelope from the Dept. of Forest, permitting him only to shoot duck and deer and prohibiting him to kill tigers or other larger animals. Vasu felt anger at this and challenged the authority of the forest officer by killing animals in Mempi forest. Illegally, he set off to kill bigger wild animals. Very dexterously he did this, leaving no proof or evidence behind.
- Describe Vasu’s killing of a tiger.
After returning from Mempi forest, Vasu showed Nataraj triumphantly the tiger that he had killed. The tiger was ten feet long and the head almost was 18 inches wide. He performed the killing without legal sanction and was not ashamed of his deed. He was rather proud that he humbugged the forest authority, which will fail to take any action against him. Then, he told Nataraj, how the dead animals were processed and stuffed.
- Why was the attic objectionable?
Everyone complained of the foul smell coming from the attic. The room was filled with skins of smaller animals. Nataraj wanted to turn him out but Vasu did not care him. He continued brining dead animals, stuffed carcasses, packed them and sent them off of different places through the railway. His business was flourishing and Nataraj felt an insoluble problem. Though Nataraj avoided direct speaking to Vasu, one day, he gathered courage and asked Vasu to vacate the attic. But, all this was in vain.
- What did the sanitary officer say to Nataraj?
The relation between Nataraj and Vasu did not remain a good one due to attic case. They no longer talked to each other but Vasu went and came to the attic as usual. Oneday, a sanitary inspector came to the press and produced a joint petition from his neighbours complaining to the municipal authorities of the foul smell and requesting them to stop the cleaning and stuffing of skins in that residential area. The inspector thought that Nataraj was the tanner and so he advised him to send a reply and ask for time to shift the business. Nataraj was thrown in a state of utter despair. He was totally helpless.
- Why did Vasu take to womanising?
One day, while working, Sastri heard the jingling of bangles and saw a woman came down the steps from the attic. She was a dancer named Rangi, a woman of loose character. Nataraj thought that the forester must have tightened his vigilance in Mempi Forest. To him, Vasu was now, probably neutral. So, he had now indulged in womanising.
- How was Muthu promised by Nataraj?
One day, Muthu, the tea-stall owner of Mempi village, came to meet Nataraj at his press. He wanted his temple elephant, Kumar, to be treated there as he was sick. In his opinion, there was a Govt. hospital for animals in Malgudi and he preferred the elephant to be treated by its doctor. Nataraj was ready to help him as Muthu helped him in Mempi. He assured Muthu that he would do his best and let him know the result of his attempts. Muthu went away thoroughly satisfied.
- How was the elephant brought to Malgudi and why?
Nataraj got a clue to the hospital after great difficulty and cycled over to the place. There the doctor told him to bring the elephant to the hospital as the equipments for treating the elephant were in hospital and those could not be moved out. Nataraj knew that the elephant could not be brought so far. Yet he went to Mempi to talk to Muthu. Some listeners at the temple agreed to send the elephant to Malgudi. Some others opposed the idea strongly as the elephant was sick. Then a lot of discussion and lastly the elephant was made to stand up and was sent to Malgudi with the help of a Mahaut.
- Why does the celebration planned?
The poet completed his epic upto the stage where Krishna meets Radha, and their wedding was to be celebrated. Nataraj and Sastri were happy at this and they planned to celebrate it as a holy event. They made elaborate preparation and worked hard. They wanted to observe it on the day of festival of spring at the temple. They published appeals for donation as money was needed for that rituals, procession and a huge feast.
- Describe the collection of money.
Vasu came to Nataraj’s press as he took the responsibility of collecting money from the people. He kept the account in a green folder and bore the cash with him. Nataraj, Sastri and the poet allowed him to do this. But, the printing of a few forms in this purpose was still incomplete. Sastri started to compose and Nataraj printed them after the poet has passed the proof.
- What was Vasu’s wicked plan?
When night pressed, Sastri and the poet took a nap while Nataraj printed the forms alone. All on a sudden, Rangi came down the stairs from the attic, stood behind the grill and told Nataraj of Vasu’s wicked plan to shoot the elephant from his window as the procession passed that way. He thought that an elephant is more useful when dead. Natrarai was frightened to hear this plan as it would not only kill the animal but many men, women and children would also be trampled and choked in the stampede that would follow next.
- What was the cause of Nataraj’s delirious cry?
Nataraj tried his best to dissuade Vasu from shooting the elephant causelessly but in vain. However, he reached the temple at around 4 o’clock. The Mayor was to give inaugural speech. The program started as per the plan. Nothing could be heard due to noise, sound of brass band and din. The fear of the elephant being shot by Vasu still lurked in Nataraj’s mind. The sight of the idol, of musical sound of cymbals, the scent of jasmine and incense and fatigue made Nataraj sleepy. Due to fear in drowsiness, he made a delirious sound. Everyone rushed to him. For a moment, there was all round silence. After 5 minutes, Nataraj got back his normal self and went home.
- How did Vasu show his strength?
Nataraj told all about his fear regarding Vasu’s plan of shooting ‘Kumar’. Everyone was agitated and they went to meet Vasu just to tackle him. Sen went to the D.S.P. Who called the Town Inspector to manage it. Now, all accused Vasu of creating disturbance. The Inspector threatened to lock him up. Vasu assulted him and dislocated his wrist with one blow of his fist. Then he cracked the iron frame of the cot just with his palm. All were frightened at this and left the place.
- How did Nataraj plan to control Vasu?
As the procession came near, Nataraj could not control himself and went to Vasu’s attic. He saw that Vasu was lying in his arm-chain near the window. His gun was on the floor beside him. Nataraj crawled towards the gun and grasped it. Vasu seemed to be sleeping soundly. Nataraj remained there with the gun pointed at Vasu till the procession passed by. The noise of drums and pipes was unable to wake Vasu, but his alarm-clock rang suddenly and Nataraj getting frightened left the attic in no time.
- How was Vasu’s murder investigated?
Vasu was found dead in his arm-chair. When the police came to know it, a committee of five men was set up to find out the cause of Vasu’s death, and the person who might have killed him. His body was dispose of by burial so that it might be exhumed later and properly cremated. Even after a lot of interrogation and examination, the police could not find any clue or prove anything. So, the case was officially closed no.
- Was Nataraj suspected as a murderer?
Slowly, all stopped talking to Nataraj. Even, his close friends tried to avoid him. Nataraj was in such a state of grief and despair that he thought himself to be murderer without murdering anyone. One day, he stopped the poet and took him to his press. But, the poet using a few monosyllabic words left the place. Nataraj burst into tears. For him, this was the greatest act of destruction that the man-eater had performed. By dying, he had destroyed his name, fame, his friendship. and above all, his world.
- How was the mystery of Vasu’s death cleared?
After a short gap of time, Sastri came back from his tour. He told Nataraj the real cause of Vasu’s death. The truth was revealed to him by Rangi. She had told him that on that night Vasu settled in his easy chair to sleep and ordered Rangi to fan him to keep the mosquitoes away. Vasu dozed away and Rangi went to sleep. The mosquitoes attacked Vasu who in a rage slapped his forehead with his open palm that could break the iron-frame of cot. However, this was his end like the end of Bhasmasura, a ‘rakshasa’. The blow of his own hammer-fist had killed him. When this report was spread, normalcy restored once again.
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