Swami’s somewhat surprising choice of a book of fairy tales by Hans Christian Andersen as a going-away present for Rajam acts as a symbol for the crossroads of maturity at which the two boys find themselves. Swami has struggled to enjoy reading through the novel, while Rajam has excelled at it, so Swami’s sensitivity to the kind of present that Rajam would appreciate demonstrates the way that he has begun learning to think outside of himself and his own desires. However, the fact that the book includes fairy tales rather than true facts indicates that the boys’ reality is still largely shaped by fantasy. Even as Swami is forced to face the painful fact that Rajam is moving away without repairing his friendship with Swami, he relies on the power of a book of imagined realities to bridge the gap between them. Finally, Swami thinks that the book is too full of “unknown, unpronounceable English words” for him to ever understand it himself, again hinting that mysterious foreign influence is present in every corner of his life, even the parts that concern fantasy rather than reality.
The Book of Fairy Tales Quotes in Swami and Friends
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.