Swami and Friends

Rajam Character Analysis

Rajam is the son of the Police Superintendent and one of Swami’s closest friends. Rajam is new to Swami’s school at the start of the novel, and initially Swami and Mani view him as an enemy due to his quick wits, fine clothes, and fearless nature. However, Rajam quickly becomes friends with Rajam and Swami and acts as their ringleader for the remainder of the novel. Rajam does well in school and is liked by most of his classmates, and he draws confidence from his father’s prominent position (Rajam’s father is the Police Superintendent), although it also causes him to oppose the political activity that his friends support. Rajam sometimes bullies his friends and acquaintances, but more often he unites them and urges them toward new goals, most notably the formation of a cricket team. Swami loves and admires Rajam but comes into conflict with him, first because Swami supports political action that opposes Rajam’s father, and later because he doesn’t live up to his promise on Rajam’s cricket team. Rajam is so angry at Swami for missing the cricket match that he stops speaking to him, and it is unclear at the novel’s end whether the two friends have reconciled.

Rajam Quotes in Swami and Friends

The Swami and Friends quotes below are all either spoken by Rajam or refer to Rajam. 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 2  Quotes

Swaminathan gasped with astonishment. In spite of his posing before Mani he admired Rajam intensely, and longed to be his friend. Now this was the happiest conclusion to all the unwanted trouble. He danced with joy. Rajam lowered his gun, and Mani dropped his club. To show his goodwill, Rajam pulled out of this pocket half a dozen biscuits.

Related Characters: Swami, Rajam, Mani
Page Number: 18
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 3 Quotes

‘His father is the Police Superintendent. He is the master of every policeman here.’ Granny was impressed. She said that it must be a tremendous office indeed. She then recounted the day when her husband, Swaminathan’s grandfather, was a powerful submagistrate, in which office he made the police force tremble before him, and the fiercest dacoits of the place flee. Swaminathan waited impatiently for her to finish the story.

Page Number: 20
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 4 Quotes

This was probably Swaminathan’s first shock in life. It paralysed all his mental process. When his mind started working again, he faintly wondered if he had been dreaming. The staid Somu, the genial Somu, the uncle Somu, was it the same Somu that had talked to him a few minutes ago? What was wrong in liking and going about with Rajam? Why did it make them so angry?

Related Characters: Swami, Rajam, Somu
Page Number: 31
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Chapter 5 Quotes

‘You had better prepare something very nice, something fine and sweet. Rajam is coming this afternoon. Don’t make the sort of coffee that you usually give me. It must be very good and hot.’ He remembered how in Rajam’s house everything was brought to the room by the cook. ‘Mother, would you mind if I don’t come here for coffee and tiffin? Can you send it to my room?’

Related Characters: Swami (speaker), Rajam, Swami’s Mother
Page Number: 36
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 6 Quotes

The company was greatly impressed. Rajam then invited everyone to come forward and say that they would have no more enemies. If Sankar said it, he would get a bound notebook; if Swaminathan said it, he would get a clockwork engine; if Somu said it, he would get a belt; and if Mani said it, he would get a nice pocket-knife; and the Pea would get a marvellous little pen.

Related Characters: Swami, Rajam, Mani, Somu, Sankar, “The Pea”
Page Number: 46
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 8 Quotes

Swaminathan reflected: suppose the Pea, Mani, Rajam and Sankar deserted him and occupied Second A? His father was right. And then his father drove home the point. ‘Suppose all your juniors in the Fifth Standard become your class-mates?’ Swami sat at decimals for half an hour.

Related Characters: Swami’s Father (speaker), Swami, Rajam, Mani, Sankar, “The Pea”
Page Number: 51
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 11 Quotes

‘Whom do you address as “boys”?’ asked Rajam menacingly. ‘Don’t you know who we are?’

‘We are the Government Police out to catch humbugs like you,’ added Swaminathan.

‘I shall shoot you if you say a word,’ said Rajam to the young driver. Though the driver was incredulous, he felt that there must be something in what they said.

Related Characters: Swami (speaker), Rajam (speaker), Mani, Karrupan
Page Number: 80-81
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 13 Quotes

Rajam realized at this point that the starting of a cricket team was the most complicated problem on earth. He had simply expected to gather a dozen fellows on the maidan next to his compound and play, and challenge the world. But here were endless troubles, starting with the name that must be unique, Government taxes, and so on. The Government did not seem to know where it ought to interfere and where not. He had a momentary sympathy for Gandhi; no wonder he was dead against the Government.

Related Characters: Swami, Rajam
Related Symbols: Cricket
Page Number: 113-114
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 19 Quotes

Mani ran along the platform with the train and shouted over the noise of the train: ‘Goodbye, Rajam. Swami gives you this book.’ Rajam held out his hand for the book, and took it, and waved a farewell. Swaminathan waved back frantically.

Swaminathan and Mani stood as if glued where they were, and watched the train. The small red lamp of the last van could be seen for a long time, it diminished in size every minute, and disappeared around a bend. All the jarring, rattling, clinking, spurting, and hissing of the moving train softened in the distance into something that was half a sob and half a sigh.

Related Characters: Mani (speaker), Swami, Rajam
Related Symbols: The Book of Fairy Tales
Page Number: 184
Explanation and Analysis:
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Rajam Character Timeline in Swami and Friends

The timeline below shows where the character Rajam appears in Swami and Friends. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2 
The Political and the Personal Under British Colonial Rule Theme Icon
Innocence, Family, and Growing Up Theme Icon
...near the center of their town, Malgudi. Mani tells Swami that he wants to throw Rajam, a new student at their school, into the river. Rajam dresses well, speaks good English,... (full context)
The Political and the Personal Under British Colonial Rule Theme Icon
Education and Oppression Theme Icon
As the conflict between Mani and Rajam grows in the following days, Swami acts as their go-between, passing notes full of insults... (full context)
The Political and the Personal Under British Colonial Rule Theme Icon
The Fluidity of Identity Theme Icon
Innocence, Family, and Growing Up Theme Icon
The next evening, Mani arrives at the river carrying a club, ready to fight Rajam, and Rajam himself arrives with an air gun. The two talk awkwardly for a few... (full context)
Chapter 3
The Political and the Personal Under British Colonial Rule Theme Icon
Innocence, Family, and Growing Up Theme Icon
...dinner, feeling warm and safe with her. He tells his grandmother about his new friend Rajam and how wonderful he is, and he expresses particular excitement that Rajam’s father is the... (full context)
The Political and the Personal Under British Colonial Rule Theme Icon
...his grandmother is not listening to him and that she does not believe how wonderful Rajam is, but she emphasizes her approval of Rajam and Swami is comforted. She begins to... (full context)
The Political and the Personal Under British Colonial Rule Theme Icon
Innocence, Family, and Growing Up Theme Icon
...to him. He goes first to Mani’s house and then, together, they go on to Rajam’s house. Although they are nervous at first, the policeman outside Rajam’s house is polite to... (full context)
The Political and the Personal Under British Colonial Rule Theme Icon
Innocence, Family, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Swami and Mani are impressed by Rajam’s house, which is large and tidy. Rajam comes to meet them and shows off his... (full context)
Chapter 4
The Political and the Personal Under British Colonial Rule Theme Icon
The Fluidity of Identity Theme Icon
Innocence, Family, and Growing Up Theme Icon
...way home, he catches up to Somu, who tells Swami that they now call him Rajam’s Tail, because he acts like he is too good for his old friends now that... (full context)
Chapter 5
Innocence, Family, and Growing Up Theme Icon
On Saturday, Swami prepares excitedly to host Rajam, who has promised to come to his house that afternoon. Swami wonders where to host... (full context)
The Political and the Personal Under British Colonial Rule Theme Icon
Innocence, Family, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Swami continues to prepare for Rajam’s visit, demanding that his mother make good coffee and something “fine and sweet” for the... (full context)
The Fluidity of Identity Theme Icon
Innocence, Family, and Growing Up Theme Icon
To Swami’s surprise, Rajam’s visit goes well, with all of Swami’s demands met except for the fact that the... (full context)
The Political and the Personal Under British Colonial Rule Theme Icon
Education and Oppression Theme Icon
...all deny it and Swami, crying, explains to Mani that “tail” refers to him being Rajam’s tail. Mani angrily defends Rajam and Somu tells Mani that he thinks too much of... (full context)
Chapter 6
The Fluidity of Identity Theme Icon
Three weeks later, Swami and Mani are on their way to Rajam’s house. Rajam has invited them to his house, telling them that he has a surprise... (full context)
The Political and the Personal Under British Colonial Rule Theme Icon
Innocence, Family, and Growing Up Theme Icon
...their eyes, they discover that Somu, Sankar, and the Pea are in the room with Rajam. Swami is embarrassed at his behavior and Mani becomes angry at Rajam, threatening to leave.... (full context)
Chapter 9
Education and Oppression Theme Icon
The Fluidity of Identity Theme Icon
Innocence, Family, and Growing Up Theme Icon
...the last question, and the classmate reveals that he wrote a full page. Swami tells Rajam and Sankar about the classmate and they reply that they wrote only half or three-quarters... (full context)
Chapter 10
The Fluidity of Identity Theme Icon
Innocence, Family, and Growing Up Theme Icon
...the Pea are not meaningful to him outside of school. His friendships with Mani and Rajam are “more human” and the three spend nearly all of their time together with school... (full context)
The Political and the Personal Under British Colonial Rule Theme Icon
Innocence, Family, and Growing Up Theme Icon
...money and refuses to look through his uncle’s possessions. Two weeks later, Swami goes to Rajam and asks to borrow a policeman, saying that the coachman robbed him. Rajam suggests attacking... (full context)
The Political and the Personal Under British Colonial Rule Theme Icon
Innocence, Family, and Growing Up Theme Icon
The next day, Swami and Mani go to the coachman’s house. Rajam has made a plan for Mani to befriend and then kidnap the coachman’s son, with... (full context)
Chapter 11
Innocence, Family, and Growing Up Theme Icon
...people view Swami’s hometown of Malgudi as intolerably hot in the summer, Swami, Mani, and Rajam enjoy going out together in the summer afternoons and barely notice the heat. They sit... (full context)
The Political and the Personal Under British Colonial Rule Theme Icon
The Fluidity of Identity Theme Icon
...driving a cart pulled by a bull comes down the road toward the boys, and Rajam yells at him to stop the cart. The boy pleads that he has to leave,... (full context)
Education and Oppression Theme Icon
Innocence, Family, and Growing Up Theme Icon
...at home, Swami’s father tells Swami that he cannot go out to meet Mani and Rajam but instead must stay at home and study. Swami protests that he should not have... (full context)
Chapter 13
The Political and the Personal Under British Colonial Rule Theme Icon
Education and Oppression Theme Icon
The Fluidity of Identity Theme Icon
Six weeks pass, after which Rajam comes to Swami’s house to tell him that he forgives him for everything, from his... (full context)
The Political and the Personal Under British Colonial Rule Theme Icon
Education and Oppression Theme Icon
Rajam finds Swami trying to build a camera, and Swami explains that a boy in his... (full context)
The Political and the Personal Under British Colonial Rule Theme Icon
Innocence, Family, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Rajam suggests forming a cricket team, and although Swami initially feels that he’s not good enough... (full context)
The Political and the Personal Under British Colonial Rule Theme Icon
The Fluidity of Identity Theme Icon
Swami and Rajam go to Mani’s house to choose cricket equipment from a sporting goods catalogue. Mani insists... (full context)
The Fluidity of Identity Theme Icon
The postman arrives with a card for Rajam, which turns out to be from Sankar, who says that he is also playing cricket... (full context)
The Fluidity of Identity Theme Icon
Innocence, Family, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Soon thereafter, Rajam receives a reply from the sporting goods company addressed to the captain of the M.C.C.... (full context)
The Political and the Personal Under British Colonial Rule Theme Icon
Innocence, Family, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Swami, Rajam, and Mani continue to believe that the cricket supplies will arrive soon, and that perhaps... (full context)
The Fluidity of Identity Theme Icon
...he promised to bring, but says that he will bring them to the next practice. Rajam and the others are at first upset not to have the supplies they need to... (full context)
Chapter 14
Education and Oppression Theme Icon
The Fluidity of Identity Theme Icon
...often disappointed to find that the practice is concluding by the time he arrives and Rajam is annoyed at him for arriving late. (full context)
The Fluidity of Identity Theme Icon
Innocence, Family, and Growing Up Theme Icon
...what cricket is. He lectures her on the basics of cricket and explains how well Rajam leads his team. Swami’s father enters, carrying Swami’s baby brother, and remarks that soon it... (full context)
The Political and the Personal Under British Colonial Rule Theme Icon
Education and Oppression Theme Icon
Rajam warns Swami that he cannot keep being late to cricket practice. Swami tells Rajam that... (full context)
Education and Oppression Theme Icon
Innocence, Family, and Growing Up Theme Icon
To avoid seeing Rajam at his school, Swami pretends to be sick the next morning. His father thinks that... (full context)
The Political and the Personal Under British Colonial Rule Theme Icon
Education and Oppression Theme Icon
Rajam leads Swami back to school and tells Mani to wait outside while they speak to... (full context)
Chapter 15
The Political and the Personal Under British Colonial Rule Theme Icon
Education and Oppression Theme Icon
As the team’s captain, Rajam throws himself into ensuring that his team beats the Y.M.U. Rajam believes that they are... (full context)
Education and Oppression Theme Icon
Innocence, Family, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Swami leaves school early and attends practice on time for the next several days, making Rajam and the rest of the team very happy. On Friday, however the Board School Headmaster... (full context)
The Political and the Personal Under British Colonial Rule Theme Icon
Education and Oppression Theme Icon
...an outcast and has no choice but to leave Malgudi. He wishes to talk to Rajam and Mani before going, so Swami goes behind the school and waits for a young... (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
Swami then explains his situation to Rajam, who criticizes him for always getting in trouble. Rajam tells Swami that he has seen... (full context)
Chapter 16
The Fluidity of Identity Theme Icon
Innocence, Family, and Growing Up Theme Icon
...for him to “please his wife and mother.” He checked Swami’s school, as well as Rajam’s house, and was unable to find Mani’s house. He returned home after an hour without... (full context)
Chapter 18
The Political and the Personal Under British Colonial Rule Theme Icon
The Fluidity of Identity Theme Icon
...afternoon, the cricket match between M.C.C. and Y.M.U. is underway. The M.C.C. is losing and Rajam is furious, in particular regretting that his team does not have a good bowler. Rajam’s... (full context)
The Fluidity of Identity Theme Icon
Innocence, Family, and Growing Up Theme Icon
...him and treated him well. He is also touched at the memory of how kind Rajam’s father and his own father were, and he remembers with happiness how everyone laughed when... (full context)
Innocence, Family, and Growing Up Theme Icon
...go into the backyard to talk. Mani has heard the story of Swami’s disappearance from Rajam and calls him a fool for running away from the Board School Headmaster, but he... (full context)
The Fluidity of Identity Theme Icon
Innocence, Family, and Growing Up Theme Icon
...Mr. Nair, who told him that it was only Saturday. Mani also tells Swami that Rajam is furious with Swami and will never speak to him again. Swami begs Mani to... (full context)
Chapter 19
The Fluidity of Identity Theme Icon
Innocence, Family, and Growing Up Theme Icon
...later, Swami gets up early in order to get to the train station, from which Rajam is about to leave. Rajam’s father is being transferred to a new city, which Swami... (full context)
The Political and the Personal Under British Colonial Rule Theme Icon
Innocence, Family, and Growing Up Theme Icon
After Mani leaves to go to Rajam’s house, Swami looks through his possessions for something to give Rajam as a going away... (full context)
The Political and the Personal Under British Colonial Rule Theme Icon
Innocence, Family, and Growing Up Theme Icon
...the station in the dark early morning, holding the book of fairy tales. He sees Rajam and Mani get out of a car, along with Rajam’s family. He sees how tidy... (full context)
The Fluidity of Identity Theme Icon
Rajam gets onto the train and Swami asks for Mani’s help giving him the book. Mani... (full context)
The Fluidity of Identity Theme Icon
Innocence, Family, and Growing Up Theme Icon
...tales to Mani in panic, and Mani runs alongside the train to give it to Rajam. Rajam takes the book and waves goodbye as the train departs. Swami waves back, watching... (full context)