Swami and Friends

Somu is one of Swami’s friends from the Mission School. He is the class monitor and gets along well with everyone, students and teachers, although he does not excel academically. Swami thinks of Somu as the “uncle of the class.” When Somu treats Swami unkindly, the experience is one of the first times that Swami is forced to admit that the people around him are more complex than he might have guessed. Later in the novel, Somu disappears from the group of friends after failing an exam, and thus not being promoted to the next grade.

Somu Quotes in Swami and Friends

The Swami and Friends quotes below are all either spoken by Somu or refer to Somu. 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 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
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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Somu Character Timeline in Swami and Friends

The timeline below shows where the character Somu appears in Swami and Friends. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1 
The Fluidity of Identity Theme Icon
Innocence, Family, and Growing Up Theme Icon
...but his four best friends, who are introduced one by one. The first friend is Somu, the class monitor, who is a mediocre student but relaxed and well-liked by everyone, including... (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
...with contempt” at how small and unintelligent they are. Eventually he happily runs into Sankar, Somu, and the Pea, who he had thought were not at school. However, his three friends... (full context)
The Fluidity of Identity Theme Icon
Innocence, Family, and Growing Up Theme Icon
...he feels unsure of who his friends are and confused that someone as nice as Somu could be so angry with him. Swami returns home and watches water and debris rush... (full context)
Chapter 5
The Political and the Personal Under British Colonial Rule Theme Icon
Education and Oppression Theme Icon
...Sankar in anger. The three begin to fight in earnest and they only stop when Somu and Mani enter the classroom and separate them. Swami, Mani, Somu, Sankar, and the Pea... (full context)
Chapter 6
The Fluidity of Identity Theme Icon
...On the way, Mani muses about the ways that he’d like to inflict violence on Somu, Sankar, and the Pea. When they arrive at Rajam’s house, Rajam peeks out but then... (full context)
The Political and the Personal Under British Colonial Rule Theme Icon
Innocence, Family, and Growing Up Theme Icon
When Swami and Mani open their eyes, they discover that Somu, Sankar, and the Pea are in the room with Rajam. Swami is embarrassed at his... (full context)
Innocence, Family, and Growing Up Theme Icon
...and the other four boys soon do the same. The Pea receives a fountain pen, Somu gets a new belt, Mani gets a new knife, Sankar receives a bound notebook, and... (full context)
Chapter 10
The Fluidity of Identity Theme Icon
Innocence, Family, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Swami realizes that his friendships with Somu, Sankar, and the Pea are not meaningful to him outside of school. His friendships with... (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
...school, though he does not yet have close friends there. Back at the Mission School, Somu was left behind after failing an exam, Sankar moved away after his father was transferred,... (full context)