Kanthapura

by

Raja Rao

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Rangamma Character Analysis

A widow in Kanthapura who becomes the Gandhian movement’s secondary leader, after her close confidant Moorthy. She comes from a wealthy city family and becomes Waterfall Venkamma’s sister-in-law, living in her husband’s large house after his death. This house becomes the center of the village’s Congress and its protest movement. Although she initially worries about the erosion of the caste system, she is one of the first villagers to join Moorthy’s movement and soon becomes its second-in-command; she also leads the group of women “Volunteers” that the book’s narrator, Achakka, eventually joins. Owing to her upbringing in a city, Rangamma is well-read and knowledgeable about events beyond the village, and she begins to publish a newspaper that quickly spreads news of the national Gandhian movement around Kanthapura. After the police arrest Moorthy, Rangamma stays with Advocate Sankar in Karwar city and learns about the Congress of All India. Upon her return, she becomes the leader of Kanthapura’s protests and takes over Moorthy’s role of leading bhajans and giving discourses about Hinduism and Gandhi. She gets arrested the night before the final conflict in Kanthapura and the villagers are still waiting for her release at the end of the book. Rangamma’s prominence in the protest movement demonstrates how Gandhism overturns traditional gender roles, offering a prominent political role to women (and particularly widows, who are generally ostracized under the caste system). But her roots in the city also demonstrate how, while to a certain extent Gandhism was a bottom-up movement led by oppressed Indians, the knowledge and resources of powerful people were also instrumental to its success.

Rangamma Quotes in Kanthapura

The Kanthapura quotes below are all either spoken by Rangamma or refer to Rangamma. 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 3 Quotes

Every fellow with Matric or Inter asks, “What dowry do you offer? How far will you finance my studies?—I want to have this degree and that degree.” Degrees. Degrees. Nothing but degrees or this Gandhi vagabondage. When there are boys like Moorthy, who should safely get married and settle down, they begin this Gandhi business.

Related Characters: Bhatta (speaker), Moorthy, Rangamma, Mahatma Gandhi, Ramakrishnayya, Satamma
Page Number: 28
Explanation and Analysis:
Section 13 Quotes

“This is all Ramayana and Mahabharata; such things never happen in our times.”

Related Characters: Dorè (speaker), Moorthy, Rangamma, Mahatma Gandhi, Kenchamma
Page Number: 125
Explanation and Analysis:
Section 19 Quotes

It is the way of the masters that is wrong. And I have come to realize bit by bit, and bit by bit, when I was in prison, that as long as there will be iron gates and barbed wires round the Skeffington Coffee Estate, and city cars that can roll up the Bebbur Mound, and gas-lights and coolie cars, there will always be pariahs and poverty.

Related Characters: Moorthy (speaker), Achakka, Rangamma
Page Number: 188-9
Explanation and Analysis:
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Rangamma Character Timeline in Kanthapura

The timeline below shows where the character Rangamma appears in Kanthapura. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Section 1
Oral Tradition, Writing, and Political Power Theme Icon
Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
...veranda. So does the Kannayya-House, but Waterfall Venkamma is constantly furious that her widowed sister-in-law Rangamma gets to live there. Venkamma has to squeeze into a house she believes is too... (full context)
Oral Tradition, Writing, and Political Power Theme Icon
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Labor, Exploitation, and Economic Independence Theme Icon
Altogether, Moorthy collects 147 rupees. Rangamma is generous—she does not know what to do with all her money—and the festival is... (full context)
Section 2
Oral Tradition, Writing, and Political Power Theme Icon
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
...Venkamma hates Moorthy—he rejected her second daughter for marriage and has started assembling Gandhians in Rangamma’s house, bringing books and spinning-wheels from the local Gandhian Karwar Congress Committee. (full context)
Section 3
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Labor, Exploitation, and Economic Independence Theme Icon
One day, Bhatta stops by Rangamma’s Kannayya House. Satamma greets him and asks about his family, and Bhatta replies by explaining... (full context)
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Labor, Exploitation, and Economic Independence Theme Icon
Bhatta complains that pariahs are mixing with brahmins, perhaps to one day usurp their place. Rangamma says not to worry, for elsewhere pariahs can even enter the temple once a year,... (full context)
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Labor, Exploitation, and Economic Independence Theme Icon
Satamma blames recent floods for the “confusion of castes” and Rangamma worries that “the Mahatma is not for all this pollution,” but Bhatta complains that Gandhi... (full context)
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
Rangamma, Satamma, and Ramakrishnayya sit in silence, hearing a children’s song and the noises of calves,... (full context)
Oral Tradition, Writing, and Political Power Theme Icon
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Labor, Exploitation, and Economic Independence Theme Icon
But Achakka explains that there was one thing Rangamma never stopped talking about—the day after a Northern sandal merchant stopped in town and told... (full context)
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
So Rangamma was knowledgeable and “could hold a word-for-word fight with Bhatta,” but chose instead to simply... (full context)
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Kamalamma, Rangamma’s sister, stops by with her daughter Ratna. Ratna is a widow but “still kept her... (full context)
Section 4
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 there. Bhatta visits and tells... (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... (full context)
Section 7
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Moorthy tells Rangamma that he blames himself for the evening’s violence and plans to fast for three days... (full context)
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Rangamma brings salt for Moorthy’s water. He drinks and shivers at “the coolness in his empty... (full context)
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
...assembles around Moorthy—Dorè laughs at him, and he is visibly losing strength. By nightfall, only Rangamma is left, and Moorthy explains that he believes “fearless, calm affection towards our fellow men”... (full context)
Oral Tradition, Writing, and Political Power Theme Icon
When Moorthy awakens, Rangamma, Seenu, and Ratna are watching him and Pariah Rachanna and Lingayya stand nearby. Moorthy feels... (full context)
Oral Tradition, Writing, and Political Power Theme Icon
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
Rangamma asks Ratna to watch when Moorthy wakes, and she prays to God for him. When... (full context)
Section 8
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
...and heads to the temple, where he performs blessings before heading home to chat with Rangamma. (full context)
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
On his way to Rangamma’s house, Moorthy remembers the milk at Rachanna’s house and asks if he is permitted to... (full context)
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
...Moorthy “our president” and Seenu jokingly declares Rangè Gowda “our Super-President and Protector” before asking Rangamma to be “the third member,” but she declines. Moorthy says they need a woman and... (full context)
Oral Tradition, Writing, and Political Power Theme Icon
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
...Moorthy’s final list of members counts 23, and they apply to the Provincial Congress Committee. Rangamma receives a blue paper with Moorthy’s picture and “everybody” wants to see it. They declare... (full context)
Section 10
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
...nobody can enter. The rest of the villagers follow to the front steps, they hear Rangamma’s mother yell from inside, and then Rangamma and Ramakrishnayya come outside. (full context)
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Suddenly, the Police Inspector shouts to Badè Khan: “bind this man!” Rangè Gowda stands at Rangamma’s door with “Pariah Rachanna and Madanna and Lingayya and Lingayya’s woman” and shouts at the... (full context)
Oral Tradition, Writing, and Political Power Theme Icon
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Labor, Exploitation, and Economic Independence Theme Icon
...magistrate, and the crowd immediately begins marching before the police break it up with violence. Rangamma’s paper brings news of these events to Kanthapura the following morning, and the villagers realize... (full context)
Oral Tradition, Writing, and Political Power Theme Icon
Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
More and more of the villagers begin ordering Rangamma’s Blue paper, including illiterates like Rangè Gowda (who has his son read it aloud), and... (full context)
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Seetharamu brings Rangamma and Nanjamma to Sankar, and they agree that Moorthy is saintly and capable of “holy... (full context)
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
Just after the harvest, various people from Kanthapura ask Rangamma about Moorthy and continue to talk against the government. Rangè Gowda loses his “Patel-ship,” which... (full context)
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
Rangamma returns to Karwar, where she stays with Sankar to help manage his Congress papers. Waterfall... (full context)
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
According to Rangamma, nobody was happier or healthier than Sankar, and after staying with him she felt the... (full context)
Section 11
Oral Tradition, Writing, and Political Power Theme Icon
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
...little and follows Bhatta’s lead. Instead, Nanjamma suggests, someone should read out the books and Rangamma lead the discussion, and she agrees. The group decides that, even though “never was a... (full context)
Oral Tradition, Writing, and Political Power Theme Icon
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
So each afternoon, Ratna read the texts and Rangamma interpreted them, “bring[ing] the British Government into every page and line.” Achakka thinks “it must... (full context)
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
After a few days of meditation, the others feel stronger in mind and spirit, and Rangamma suggests that the other women learn to resist like the Mahatma when the time comes.... (full context)
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Rangamma determines that the women should form a Volunteer corps that can meet Moorthy upon his... (full context)
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Rangamma instructs the women how to resist the police without budging or using violence. Nanjamma tells... (full context)
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
...some of the exercises and propose that the villagers organize a corps for the pariahs. Rangamma says that boys must come, but Seenu explains that they are all too afraid of... (full context)
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Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
Vasudev, Rangamma and Seenu decide to restart the bhajans that Moorthy used to perform, although in prison... (full context)
Section 12
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
Labor, Exploitation, and Economic Independence Theme Icon
...exchange for which they make various offerings to Kenchamma. That afternoon, Postman Subbayya runs to Rangamma’s house town with the Blue paper and announces that Moorthy has been released, and the... (full context)
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
...he does not, and they are so anxious that the bus has not arrived that Rangamma sends Pariah Lingayya and Ratna, then Chenna and Sidda, to check around town for him. (full context)
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Seenu calls out to say that Moorthy has arrived at Rangamma’s house, silently and escorted by police. The villagers shout “Vandè Mataram!” and “Mahatma Gandhi ki... (full context)
Section 13
Oral Tradition, Writing, and Political Power Theme Icon
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
...the 170 Patels that resigned and the thousands who came to watch the Mahatma’s pilgrimage. Rangamma thinks the gods will evict the British from India before Gandhi completes his march, but... (full context)
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
...they receive orders from the Karwar Committee, and they continue to do practice drills in Rangamma’s courtyard, imagining “Badè Khans after Badè Khans” beating them and becoming “more and more familiar”... (full context)
Section 14
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Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Labor, Exploitation, and Economic Independence Theme Icon
Rangamma begins to “unknowingly” strike the gong, and everyone “felt there was something in the air.”... (full context)
Labor, Exploitation, and Economic Independence Theme Icon
Two days later, 139 villagers begin marching to Boranna’s toddy grove, led by Moorthy, Rangamma, Rangè Gowda, and Pariah Rachanna in a cart. They announce their intentions in song and... (full context)
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Labor, Exploitation, and Economic Independence Theme Icon
...ki jai!” as the policemen surround and beat him. Finally, the women charge, led by Rangamma, reminding themselves as they are beaten that “after all it is not so bad.” (full context)
Oral Tradition, Writing, and Political Power Theme Icon
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
...they reunite with the other groups on the highway and march deep into the jungle, Rangamma tells the other old women to form a line and start singing. The longer and... (full context)
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
The villagers get off the carts in the village of Santhapura, near Kanthapura, where Rangamma’s cousin lives and his wife offers them food and milk. The Gandhians tell the Santhapura... (full context)
Section 15
Oral Tradition, Writing, and Political Power Theme Icon
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
...and shouts, respectively. The police try to lift up the protestors by their hair—one kicks Rangamma so hard that she passes out, and another slaps Ratna until her mouth is bloodied.... (full context)
Section 16
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Labor, Exploitation, and Economic Independence Theme Icon
...and warning her to ring a bell if the police come into her house. With Rangamma and Ratna’s help, he managed to inform everyone in the village that night, and everyone... (full context)
Section 17
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
...had slept the sleep of asses,” and their women were gagged and tied to pillars. Rangamma has also gone missing. (full context)
Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
Labor, Exploitation, and Economic Independence Theme Icon
They decide that there is only one safe place in Kanthapura: the temple sanctum. On Rangamma’s veranda, they see an elephant crouching, wailing, surrounded by a crowd as its driver kicks... (full context)
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
...no safe place” and they must find refuge elsewhere, and Achakka hears “the voice of Rangamma in her speech, the voice of Moorthy.” Before they head to the temple, Ratna looks... (full context)
Section 19
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Rangamma and Seenu will supposedly be released from prison soon, and Ratna has already gotten out.... (full context)
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Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Ratna went to Bombay the week after her visit, but Achakka is hopeful about Rangamma’s upcoming release, for she still supports Gandhi and “we are all for the Mahatma.” Around... (full context)