Raju tells of the day that the railway line is finally completed in Malgudi. Everyone in the town is given a holiday to celebrate. The railway station is decorated, and important officials of the town give speeches, hailing the achievement of the railway.
The completion of the railway line marks an important moment in the history of Malgudi, for the railway indicates the arrival of modernization and industrialization—the railway will change the inhabitants’ lives, and it is for this reason that it is celebrated by the town’s officials and inhabitants.
The railway is good for Raju’s father’s shop, which prospers as a result of the growing population around the railway station. Raju’s father can now afford to buy a juka (a carriage) and horse, in order to do his shopping for the shop. However, Raju’s mother is not impressed by the horse and carriage.
Indeed, the opening of the railway seems to immediately improve the economic prospects of Raju’s father. As such, as a symbol, the railway suggests the ways in which modernization and industrialization can improve people’s lives and prospects—as they do for Raju’s family.
Raju’s father makes a deal with a groom, who hires the carriage to sell goods in the market when the carriage is not in use by Raju’s father, and with the agreement that he will then pay the father a portion of the profit. However, this turns out to be a bad deal for the father—the groom gives no money to the family, swearing that he is unable to make a profit. He convinces the father to sell the horse and carriage to him. Only then does it become apparent that the father has been cheated: suddenly, the groom is seen selling his goods up and down the streets.
While Raju’s father prospers from the opening of the railway, he is clearly somewhat naïve and gullible. His inability to recognize that the groom is cheating him suggests that he has trouble adjusting to his new, more prosperous circumstances. His gullibility also indicates the humble, simple life that he has led thus far—one that has been largely sheltered from swindlers such as the groom, who clearly exploits the father’s innocence and naiveté to win the horse and carriage off him for a low price.
Raju’s father is given the privilege to run a fancier, bigger shop at the railway station. The shop is so large that he doesn’t even have enough supplies to fill the shelves, though he follows the stationmaster’s orders to fill them.
Although Raju’s father loses money to the groom, who tricks him into selling his horse and carriage, he nonetheless finds another opportunity for financial gain in the railway shop. The railway, in other words, creates many economic opportunities for the family.
Raju takes his father’s place at the hut shop—the original shop built on the premises of their home. However, he doesn’t do well there—his father’s old customers miss chatting with their patron, and so Raju and his father switch places. Raju is charged with overseeing the railway shop, and his father returns to the hut shop. At the railway shop, Raju flourishes, and drops school to spend all of his time looking after customers.
Raju’s success in overseeing the railway shop suggests his penchant for flourishing under the new circumstances created by the railway. Furthermore, that his father returns to the hut shop while Raju goes to the railway shop indicates that, unlike his father, Raju is perhaps more adaptable to the new circumstances of industrialization and modernization.