Kanthapura

by

Raja Rao

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Narsamma Character Analysis

Moorthy’s pious, elderly mother who steadfastly opposes his anti-caste positions and wants him to marry the daughter of a wealthy brahmin family. She is furious when Moorthy rejects marriage proposals and kicks him out of the house when he shows up with khadi cloth and books about Gandhism. After Bhatta informs her that Moorthy will be excommunicated, she never speaks to him again, and after she finds out that he has carried a dead body (a task usually reserved for untouchables), she falls dead on the banks of the Himavathy river. Her conflict with Moorthy demonstrates the social power of the traditional caste system and the incredible lengths to which Moorthy will go for the sake of social equality.

Narsamma Quotes in Kanthapura

The Kanthapura quotes below are all either spoken by Narsamma or refer to Narsamma. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Oral Tradition, Writing, and Political Power Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Oxford University Press edition of Kanthapura published in 1963.
Section 4 Quotes

There was something deep and desperate that hurried her on, and [Narsamma] passed by Rangamma’s sugarcane field and by the mango grove to the river, just where the whirlpool gropes and gurgles, and she looked up at the moonlit sky, and the winds of the night and the shadows of the night and the jackals of the night so pierced her breast that she shuddered and sank unconscious upon the sands, and the cold so pierced her that the next morning she was dead.

Related Characters: Achakka (speaker), Moorthy, The Swami, Narsamma
Page Number: 46
Explanation and Analysis:
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Kanthapura PDF

Narsamma Character Timeline in Kanthapura

The timeline below shows where the character Narsamma appears in Kanthapura. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Section 3
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
...and Chinnamma debate whether Moorthy truly wants the mixing of castes. Moorthy’s pious old mother, Narsamma, married his five sisters to large, well-to-do families, but Moorthy was her youngest and favorite... (full context)
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
When Moorthy returned to Kanthapura as a Gandhian, Narsamma was distraught but ultimately let him stay, even after he rejected three more marriage proposals... (full context)
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
...is a lie and suggests that only people who mix with pariahs will be excommunicated. Narsamma is unsure whether to believe her or Venkamma, since each claims to have heard the... (full context)
Section 4
Oral Tradition, Writing, and Political Power Theme Icon
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Labor, Exploitation, and Economic Independence Theme Icon
...and a bundle of books in his arms,” Moorthy heads to Kanthapura, where his mother Narsamma asks him to “never show himself again until he had sought prayaschitta [penance] from the... (full context)
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
When she arrives, Narsamma starts washing her clothes on the Himavathy river’s stones with the other villagers and begins... (full context)
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Narsamma cannot see Moorthy on Rangamma’s veranda, and tells the passing Seenu to search for him... (full context)
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Narsamma is horrified and Bhatta says there is nothing he can do—in fact, he will have... (full context)
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
“From that day on,” Achakka laments, “they never spoke to each other, Narsamma and Moorthy.” They continued to eat separately and Narsamma grew “thin as a bamboo and... (full context)
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
Narsamma is distraught, and that night she runs to the village gate, where she spits in... (full context)
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Rangamma wants to hold Narsamma’s funeral ceremonies at her house, but Bhatta refuses to officiate and “sell [his] soul to... (full context)
Section 7
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
...he has not felt since childhood, praying as he sat in the Himavathy river while his mother washed clothes, trying to see Hari everywhere. At that time he felt himself sink into... (full context)