Kanthapura

by

Raja Rao

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Kanthapura: Section 6 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Moorthy is coming up tonight,” and the coolies put out their lights and gather around the courtyard, excitedly awaiting his arrival and watching a lantern in the distance. The coolie Rachanna thinks he hears Moorthy in Vasudev’s shed, but the noise is actually Badè Khan and Achakka warns that “Moorthy will not come tonight.” Rachanna and Madanna head down to Vasudev’s shed, where they run into Badè Khan and Moorthy.
Just as Kanthapura often assembles for religious discourses, in this scene the Skeffington Estate’s coolies assemble to hear Moorthy speak about Gandhi. His movement has begun to take on a religious character and spread beyond the bounds of his own village.
Themes
Oral Tradition, Writing, and Political Power Theme Icon
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Badè Khan orders Moorthy to leave—even if he is a free man, says Khan, Moorthy is not free to speak at the Skeffington Estate. Vasudev and Gangadhar arrive and Badè Khan exchanges insults with the rest before attacking Moorthy with his lathi, but Rachanna and Madanna wrest it from Khan and hit him on the head with it. The maistri breaks them away but the coolie women attack him and begin tearing off Khan’s beard, even as Moorthy shouts “no beatings, in the name of the Mahatma.” Khan threatens to arrest the whole lot, and Vasudev and Moorthy head back down to Kanthapura.
Badè Khan invokes the Skeffington Estate’s property rights over the land where the coolies live in order to keep Moorthy out. While Moorthy keeps in line with Gandhian principles by refusing to fight back, the coolies break the most important rule: nonviolence.
Themes
Gandhism and the Erosion of Caste Theme Icon
Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
The morning after the fight, the maistri kicks Rachanna off the Estate and drives his family out by force when he asks for his 76 rupees in unpaid wages. The family before goddess Kenchamma’s grove and heads to Kanthapura, where Moorthy brings them to Patel Rangè Gowda, who orders Beadle Timmayya to give them “shelter and water and fire.” Rachanna and his family moved to Kanthapura for good and Moorthy “began his ‘Don’t-touch-the-Government campaign.’”
Rachanna has no means to win his wages back, but by getting kicked off the Skeffington Estate he ironically becomes one of the first coolies who is able to leave it and gains a new home in Kanthapura after praying to Kenchamma as a rite of passage. By firing Rachanna, the maistri actually strengthens the Gandhian movement fighting the Skeffington Estate’s owners.
Themes
Nationalism and Colonialism Theme Icon
Land, Geography, and Belonging Theme Icon
Labor, Exploitation, and Economic Independence Theme Icon