The Guide

by

R. K. Narayan

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The Guide: Chapter 9 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Continuing to narrate to Velan, Raju recalls Rosie’s rise to stardom. While, in retrospect, Raju reflects that Rosie—by virtue of her genius and talent—was responsible for her own success, at the time he had taken credit for her success. Raju himself becomes important as a result of his role as Rosie’s manager. He arranges and oversees all aspects of her performances, creating an aura of power and mystery around Rosie, now known publicly as Nalini. When Rosie expresses in private her gratitude to Raju for guiding her career, Raju accepts this as his due.
Raju’s self-importance and self-regard is reflected in the fact that he is quick to take credit for Rosie’s success, without considering that it is primarily Rosie’s own talent, rather than his efforts, that make spectators flock to her. It is only with time, and in retrospect, that Raju develops the humility to understand that in fact, he had very little to do with Rosie’s success. He himself gains importance by virtue of his association with her, not the other way around. And yet, while he accepts Rosie’s thanks as his due, he does not thank her in return for the status that she creates for him.
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Raju’s creditor, the Sait, is still pursing Raju in the courts of Malgudi. Upon learning from his lawyer that he must make mortgage payments to the Sait to continue to live in his own house, Raju decides to move. Raju’s mother writes to her son telling him that she wants to return to her home but Raju, not wanting to have her back, ignores her.
Raju’s refusal to deal with his pressing financial troubles indicates his irresponsibility: he risks losing the house built by his father, but instead of dealing with the threat immediately, he simply decides to move out. Furthermore, his decision to ignore his mother also indicates his neglect of his responsibilities as a son towards his one living parent.
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Raju and Rosie move to a new, large, two-story house in a fashionable part of Malgudi. The house is full of servants, musicians, and dance teachers. It is also full of visitors—those who come as supplicants, such as musicians who hope to accompany Nalini, and whom Raju treats with disdain. Those more important visitors who come with offers of performances for Nalini, Raju treats with more respect and courtesy. A few select groups—the most important visitors—are given occasional access to Nalini. Through his role as Nalini’s manager, Raju comes to fraternize with men of money and power—including politicians and bankers.
The new, fancy house into which Raju and Rosie move reflects their ascension to a new social status. Furthermore, the modern house also suggests that Raju and Rosie’s new status allows them more direct access to the comforts and conveniences of modern life—such as space, which they did not have in the small, traditional house Raju’s father built. Raju, in his role as manager, strictly enforces a hierarchy amongst the visitors who come to the house. This points to his own obsession with status and wealth, as it seems that he reserves the best treatment for those visitors who have both status and wealth.
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For her part, Rosie is happy to receive as guests the artists—actors, musicians, and dancers—who come to call on her. However, as her circle of artist friends widens, she and Raju begin to quarrel. Raju is jealous of her friends and seeks to limit the time she spends with them.
Rosie does not seem to care about the wealth or the status of her visitors in the way that Raju does; she seems only to care that they are artists, like her. Raju’s increasing jealousy, and his attempts to restrict Rosie’s contact with her friends, reveal that he in fact seeks to control Rosie, not to liberate her.
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Raju and Rosie, followed by a posse of musicians, travel to engagements hundreds of miles away, sometimes remaining on the road for weeks at a time. On the road, as at home, Raju seeks to limit Rosie’s access to others, as he is jealous when he senses that she enjoys the company of anyone but himself.
Raju’s impulse to control Rosie’s access to others so as to make her entirely dependent on him shows that Raju is in effect adopting an oppressive, patriarchal attitude towards Rosie. As the man in the relationship, and as her manager, he seems to feel entitled to set limits on Rosie’s life.
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As a result of Rosie’s popularity and her growing number of engagements, Raju begins earning enormous amounts of money, spending much of it on maintaining the lavish lifestyle that has become a habit for him. Rosie, however, is dissatisfied: feeling constrained by her relentless schedule, and by Raju’s over-protectiveness, she asks him what is the use of earning so much money if they can’t enjoy it. Although Raju senses that a dangerous dissatisfaction is developing in Rosie, he is obsessed with accumulating more and more wealth.
Raju’s greed and materialism seems to be insatiable—he is, as a result of Rosie’s success, much richer than he would have ever dreamt of being, and yet, he still wants to accumulate more wealth. His desire for wealth seems to lead him to view and treat Rosie as a means to more money. Rosie’s dissatisfaction grows in turn because she begins to sense that Raju is no longer interested in her art, as he was at the beginning of their romance, but only in the money that her art generates.
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One day, while Raju and Rosie are in Malgudi, a book arrives from Marco, Rosie’s long-forgotten husband. One section of the book, entitled “Mempi Hills Pictures,” includes a note of gratitude to Raju. Raju, shaken by the sudden reappearance of Marco in their lives, debates showing the book to Rosie, but in the end decides to hide it from her.
Raju’s decision to hide Marco’s book from Rosie shows that Raju’s propensity for deceit and dissimulation is beginning to infect even his most intimate relationship. Raju’s keeping secrets from Rosie is simply another means of him attempting to control her. Clearly, his desire for control over Rosie is growing.
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Three days later, Marco’s photo appears in a Bombay magazine with a positive review of the book. Rosie comes running downstairs to show Raju the magazine. She wants to see Marco’s book and asks if they can get a copy. Later, to his shock, Raju notices that Rosie has cut out the magazine photo of Marco and has hung it on her dressing mirror.
Rosie’s inadvertent discovery of the publication of the book has exactly the effect that Raju had feared—it excites Rosie, and sets her to thinking about her long-estranged husband. The picture of Marco that she hangs on her dressing mirror is a clear sign that she still has romantic feelings for her husband.
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A few days later, while in bed, Rosie asks Raju where he is hiding the book. Raju guesses that Mani, his secretary, has revealed the secret of the book to Rosie. Rosie wants to know why Raju hid it, and Raju says that he thought she wouldn’t be interested. Rosie cries in the dark, saying that Marco was her husband, and that she deserved the way he left her. Unsettled by Rosie’s sudden longing for her husband, Raju suggests they take a holiday. He tells Rosie that she can always decline engagements, but she points out that he often makes engagements on her behalf without even consulting her. Raju points out that Rosie has everything—she is famous, rich, and is pursuing her passion for dance. She retorts that the thought of dancing now makes her sick; she has become a performing monkey. In spite of the quarrel, the two make up somewhat and go to sleep.
The quarrel between Rosie and Raju reveals that Rosie is beginning to realize that Raju not only manipulates her, but in fact seeks to control her fully. Raju’s hypocrisy is apparent in his statement to Rosie that he did not share the book with her because he thought she might not be interested. This, of course, is a lie—Raju chose not to share the book precisely because he knew that Rosie would be interested. Furthermore, he pretends that Rosie has complete freedom to determine her dance schedule, when in fact Raju is the one who sets this schedule, making bookings for her without even consulting her. Raju’s oppression of Rosie is such that she has begun to despise the very art form that she has always loved. As such, Rosie’s unhappiness in her relationship with Raju recalls her unhappiness in her relationship with Marco. Raju, like Marco, attempts to subjugate and control Rosie both in small and large ways.
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For the next three months, Raju and Rosie continue their engagements during the all-important season of music and dance in south India. When they return to Malgudi, Raju, going through the mail, finds a letter addressed to Rosie from lawyers in Madras. Raju opens the letter and reads it. Sent by Marco’s lawyers, it concerns the release of a box of jewelry to Rosie. Raju, afraid of Rosie’s reaction to the letter, hides it from her, as he had Marco’s book. He fears that Rosie might leave him to return to Marco.
Raju indulges in even deeper deceit this time when he decides to hide a letter that is directly addressed to Rosie. Clearly, Raju has learned nothing from the quarrel that he has just had with Rosie. Instead of being honest and direct with her, as she wants him to be, he again deceives her in the hope that doing so will allow him to maintain his control over her.
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One night, while sleeping beside Rosie, Raju wakes up, thinking about the letter from Marco’s lawyers. He goes downstairs and forges Rosie’s signature on the forms that the lawyers have sent and sends the form back to them. He then obsessively awaits the arrival of the valuable jewelry. When he and Rosie are readying to leave for a four days’ engagement, he instructs his secretary Mani to await the arrival of the jewelry box.
Raju’s act of forging Rosie’s signature represents the apex of his deceit. Furthermore, his obsession with acquiring Rosie’s jewelry box reveals his greed and materialism—Raju is always hungry for more wealth, and Rosie’s jewelry is likely valuable. Thus, greed and materialism often lie at the root of Raju’s motivations and actions.
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Raju and Rosie depart for a performance in a city 60 miles away from Malgudi. The show, a benefit performance for the construction of a maternity ward, is important. Influential men are present, and the auditorium is packed with a thousand spectators. Nalini, enchanting as ever on stage, finishes the show with her snake dance—a long, arduous and hypnotic dance which she rarely performs due to its difficulty.
Rosie is never more hypnotic and enchanting than when she dances her snake dance—which she rarely does. Rosie’s own power as a dancer and as a woman is associated with the snake, and this dance reveals her full magnetism. Rosie’s brilliant execution of the dance recalls the fact that it is her talent, rather than Raju’s management, that has led to her immense success.
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As he watches Rosie on stage, Raju thinks of his mother, to whom he occasionally sends a postcard and some money. A man approaches him in the middle of the dance to tell him that the District Superintendent of Police wants to see him, and Raju tells him that he will find the superintendent after the act is finished. Finally, Rosie finishes her dance to thunderous applause.
Raju’s almost complete neglect of his mother indicates his deep failure in fulfilling his obligations as a son. Raju has not allowed his mother to return to his father’s home, as she wants to do. His deception of Rosie, as well as his neglect of his mother, paint a picture of a man who has lost all integrity. The arrival of the police indeed indicates that Raju is perhaps about to pay for his sins.
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Outside the auditorium, Raju meets the superintendent, who is an acquaintance. He is not in uniform. The superintendent takes Raju aside and tells him that he has a warrant for his arrest—initiated by Marco—for forgery. Raju, trying to cover for himself, explains to the superintendent that he had signed the form sent by Marco’s lawyers because Rosie was busy. Raju convinces the policeman to wait until the show is over, and goes back inside the auditorium. After the show, the superintendent accompanies Raju and Rosie back to Malgudi.
Raju’s actions finally catch up with him: his deceit has been uncovered by Marco. And yet, even when he is faced with an arrest warrant, Raju continues to lie and dissimulate, telling the police superintendent that he had signed for Rosie because she had been too busy, when in fact he had signed for her precisely to keep her in the dark about the letters from Marco’s lawyers. Raju’s own position as an important man, however, is reflected in the fact that he manages to convince the policeman to wait for him until the show is over.
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At home, Raju pleads with the superintendent to give him more time to speak to Rosie. When Raju finally confesses his deed to Rosie, she is stunned and says that the warrant for his arrest is karma.
Rosie’s shock at Raju’s action suggests that she had never expected Raju to be capable of such betrayal. Her further judgment that his arrest warrant is karma confirms the implication that Raju’s deceitful actions are finally catching up with him.
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