Kanthapura

by

Raja Rao

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Kanthapura: Section 12 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The rains come, and Achakka follows them from the mountains through the valleys and into Kanthapura, where its residents thank the goddess Kenchamma. Rangè Gowda, who no longer runs Kanthapura, asks the villagers about their preparations for the auspicious rohini star’s appearance the next day, and the pariah Timmayya grumbles as he walks out into the street, watching the wealthier villagers drive their well-adorned bulls to the temple courtyard.
Achakka again describes the landscape through a series of places, and perspectives, as a local would experience it, rather than from the bird’s-eye view of colonial landowners, surveyors, or administrators who view land through the lenses of property and profit.
Themes
Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
Labor, Exploitation, and Economic Independence Theme Icon
Priest Rangappa presides as everyone assembles with their cattle and Rangè Gowda, whom the people still recognize as their true Patel, rides his horse into town. The Goddess Kenchamma appears to the townspeople, and Rangappa splashes the bulls with holy water. Rangè Gowda identifies the youngest bulls and asks their proud owner to tie them to the yoke; they await the goddess’s eagle, which promptly flies over the temple, and the bulls rush forward, ploughing the ground all the way to the village’s outskirts. Rangappa throws holy water in all eight directions and declares that “now, we can till the earth.”
The villagers reject the new patel, keeping Rangè Gowda as their headman and refusing to let the colonial government’s decrees determine their way of life in Kanthapura. This ceremony is particularly important because it marks the beginning of the growing season and agriculture is still the villagers’ primary means of self-sustenance.
Themes
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
Labor, Exploitation, and Economic Independence Theme Icon
It begins pouring rain again, and the villagers take refuge under the tamarind trees, yelling for the “prostitute of a wind” to die down. They ask for rain and Moorthy’s return, in 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 villagers sing, “the Blue-god he comes, prancing and playing” as they plan his return on Tuesday. Rangè Gowda even donates two banana trees from his garden, with which the people make an offering of leaves.
The villagers again invoke Kenchamma to intervene in natural and human affairs alike, and Moorthy’s release seems to answer their prayers, proving that they retain Kenchamma’s favor. They now see Moorthy, in addition to Gandhi, as a reincarnation of the “blue-god” and transformer, Siva. Rangè Gowda, whose laziness and greed Achakka frequently notes, even sacrifices some of his possessions to honor Moorthy.
Themes
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
Labor, Exploitation, and Economic Independence Theme Icon
Venkamma laments this celebration by the “polluted ones” and asks Rangappa to move her daughter’s wedding to Tuesday, the same day as Moorthy’s arrival, so that she can force the villagers to “choose between a brahmanic feast and a feast for a polluted pig.” Lakshamma, Priest Rangappa’s wife, brings wedding invitations to the villagers, who know they cannot refuse lest their own children’s weddings be polluted. On Tuesday, the villagers prepare for both Moorthy’s return and Venkamma’s son-in-law’s family, and Badè Khan arrives as “the cornets are already piping the Song of Welcome on Venkamma’s veranda.”
Again, Venkamma stirs up trouble by testing the others’ loyalties to Gandhism and the caste system while striving to push them toward the latter. It is unclear whether the cornets are playing for Moorthy or the wedding.
Themes
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
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The villagers, “even lazy Rangè Gowda,” all assemble in the courtyard, debating when Moorthy will arrive. They hear “a screech and a hoot” and expect a “firm and softeyed and pilgrim-looking” Moorthy to arrive—but 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.
Although most of the villagers choose to go and see Moorthy rather than attending the wedding, they are sorely disappointed and worry that the government has deceived them yet again.
Themes
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste 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 jai!,” but Rangamma insists that they keep quiet and disperse “in the name of Moorthy.” From afar, they watch the policemen congregated on Rangamma’s veranda and depart at night. Another policeman joins Badè Khan at the Skeffington Estate, and in the morning the villagers see Moorthy by the river.
The police have intentionally prevented the villagers from greeting Moorthy in order to stop them from assembling. Rangamma sees that a protest in this moment would risk disrupting Moorthy’s return and asks the Gandhians to put their long-term interests over their short-term desire to decry the police.
Themes
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon