Swami and Friends

The Book of Fairy Tales Symbol Analysis

The Book of Fairy Tales Symbol Icon

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

The Swami and Friends quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Book of Fairy Tales. 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 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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The Book of Fairy Tales Symbol Timeline in Swami and Friends

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Book of Fairy Tales appears in Swami and Friends. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 19
The Political and the Personal Under British Colonial Rule Theme Icon
Innocence, Family, and Growing Up Theme Icon
...that Swami no longer wishes to be friends. Eventually, Swami settles on giving Rajam a book of fairy tales given to him by his father years before. Swami recalls that he... (full context)
The Political and the Personal Under British Colonial Rule Theme Icon
Innocence, Family, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Swami arrives at 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... (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 runs to the window and calls to Rajam that Swami is there to say... (full context)
The Fluidity of Identity Theme Icon
Innocence, Family, and Growing Up Theme Icon
Swami hands the book of fairy tales to Mani in panic, and Mani runs alongside the train to give... (full context)