Swami and Friends

Mission School Headmaster Character Analysis

The Mission School Headmaster is a primary antagonist for Swami in the novel’s early chapters. Although he confronts Ebenezar about his mistreatment of Swami, he also calls Swami foolish for telling his father what happened in scripture class and asks Swami to rely only on him in the future. Later, the headmaster’s intimidating interrogation of the students who participated in the protest goads Swami into renouncing the Mission School and ultimately transferring to the Board School. However, in comparison to the abhorrent Board School Headmaster, Swami eventually comes to think of the Mission School Headmaster as dignified and respectable.

Mission School Headmaster Quotes in Swami and Friends

The Swami and Friends quotes below are all either spoken by Mission School Headmaster or refer to Mission School Headmaster. 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:
The Political and the Personal Under British Colonial Rule Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the University of Chicago Press edition of Swami and Friends published in 1980.
Chapter 1  Quotes

Ebenezar attempted to smile. Swaminathan wished to be well out of the whole affair. He felt he would not mind if a hundred Ebenezars said a thousand times worse things about the gods.

Page Number: 10
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 14 Quotes

The headmaster was sleeping with his head between his hands and his elbows resting on the table. It was a small stuffy room with only one window opening on the weather-beaten side wall of a shop; it was cluttered with dust-laden rolls of maps, globes, and geometrical squares. The headmaster’s white cane lay on the table across two ink-bottles and some pads. The sun came in a hot dusty beam and fell on the headmaster’s nose and the table. He was gently snoring. This was a possibility that Rajam had not thought of.

Related Characters: Swami, Rajam, Mission School Headmaster
Page Number: 135
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 15 Quotes

Another moment and that vicious snake-like cane, quivering as if with life, would have descended on Swaminathan’s palm. A flood of emotion swept him off his feet, a mixture of fear, resentment, and rage. He hardly knew what he was doing. His arm shot out, plucked the cane from the headmaster’s hand, and flung it out of the window. The he dashed to his desk, snatched his books, and ran out of the room.

Related Characters: Swami, Mission School Headmaster
Page Number: 146-147
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 17 Quotes

The only important thing now was home, and all the rest seemed trivial beside it. The Board School affair appeared inconsequent. He marvelled at himself for having taken it seriously and rushed into all this trouble. What a fool he had been! He wished with all his heard that he had held out his hand when the headmaster raised his cane. Even if he had not done it, he wished he had gone home and told his father everything.

Page Number: 160
Explanation and Analysis:
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Mission School Headmaster Character Timeline in Swami and Friends

The timeline below shows where the character Mission School Headmaster appears in Swami and Friends. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1 
Education and Oppression Theme Icon
Innocence, Family, and Growing Up Theme Icon
...morning, reluctant to get out of bed. He dreads facing his school, teacher, and the Mission School’s Headmaster , especially since he has left all of his homework to do in the two... (full context)
The Political and the Personal Under British Colonial Rule Theme Icon
Education and Oppression Theme Icon
Innocence, Family, and Growing Up Theme Icon
...telling his father about the trouble with Mr. Ebenezar. Swami delivers the letter to the Mission School Headmaster , at which point the reader learns that Swami’s father has complained to the headmaster... (full context)
The Fluidity of Identity Theme Icon
Innocence, Family, and Growing Up Theme Icon
When Swami exits the Mission School Headmaster ’s room, his classmates crowd around to find out what happened. However, Swami refuses to... (full context)
The Political and the Personal Under British Colonial Rule Theme Icon
Education and Oppression Theme Icon
Innocence, Family, and Growing Up Theme Icon
...day’s scripture class proceeds normally at first, with Ebenezar vigorously denouncing Hinduism, but then the Mission School Headmaster enters the class and criticizes Ebenezar’s teaching, embarrassing the teacher. (full context)
The Political and the Personal Under British Colonial Rule Theme Icon
Education and Oppression Theme Icon
Innocence, Family, and Growing Up Theme Icon
At the end of the day, Swami is called to see the Mission School Headmaster , who has Ebenezar waiting in his office. Swami is uncomfortable talking with Ebenezar present... (full context)
Chapter 5
The Political and the Personal Under British Colonial Rule Theme Icon
Education and Oppression Theme Icon
...other, at which point Swami, Sankar, and the Pea run in panic to get the Mission School Headmaster , who breaks up the fight. (full context)
Chapter 9
The Political and the Personal Under British Colonial Rule Theme Icon
Education and Oppression Theme Icon
...school goes back into the hall, where everyone is laughing and joking, even the teachers. The Mission School Headmaster announces that the school will be closed until the nineteenth of June and tells the... (full context)
Chapter 12
The Political and the Personal Under British Colonial Rule Theme Icon
Education and Oppression Theme Icon
Innocence, Family, and Growing Up Theme Icon
...relieved that he won’t get in trouble for not wearing his cap. He sees the Mission School Headmaster and some of the teachers standing on the school veranda, calling for the students to... (full context)
The Political and the Personal Under British Colonial Rule Theme Icon
Education and Oppression Theme Icon
The Fluidity of Identity Theme Icon
...joins in and he is excited to be able to break the ventilator in the Mission School Headmaster ’s room, finding the experience of being in the crowd “thrilling.” (full context)
The Political and the Personal Under British Colonial Rule Theme Icon
Education and Oppression Theme Icon
Innocence, Family, and Growing Up Theme Icon
At school the next day, the Mission School Headmaster enters Swami’s class and reads a list of all the students who were missing the... (full context)
Chapter 15
The Political and the Personal Under British Colonial Rule Theme Icon
Education and Oppression Theme Icon
...of nostalgia and misses everything about it, from his friends to his teachers to the Mission School Headmaster , whom he now finds dignified. He feels as if he is an outcast and... (full context)