The Guide

by

R. K. Narayan

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The protagonist and part-narrator of The Guide, Raju is a trickster-charlatan whose greatest talent lies in re-inventing himself. With roots in a modest household in the town of Malgudi in southern India, Raju knows how to make the best of opportunities—as evidenced, for instance, in the way that he takes advantage of the railway that is newly constructed in Malgudi to create a career for himself as a tourist guide. Articulate and persuasive, Raju has no qualms about twisting facts—and even reality—to suit his interests, a skill which he deploys relentlessly in his role as host to tourists in Malgudi. Raju’s penchant for duplicity is also evidenced in the affair that he commences with Rosie behind the back of her husband, Marco, who also happens to be one of Raju’s customers. Driven by a desire for wealth, Raju’s greed is apparent in the way that he exploits Rosie’s immense talents as a dancer to enrich himself once he again reinvents himself as her manager. Jealousy and a desire for control are the other hallmarks of his character, qualities which, along with his deceitful tendencies, ultimately land him in prison. And yet, as low as Raju may go, he seems always able to rise again. In his final reinvention as a holy man or spiritual guide on the riverbank near a small village after his release from prison, Raju comes to fulfill the destiny of “a guide” in the highest sense. Although initially playing the role of “swami” so as to exploit the villagers’ generosity, Raju ultimately lives up to the villagers’ faith in him by risking everything to save them.

Raju Quotes in The Guide

The The Guide quotes below are all either spoken by Raju or refer to Raju. 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:
Hypocrisy and Disguise Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin edition of The Guide published in 1958.
Chapter 1 Quotes

[…] the villager resumed the study of his face with intense respect. And Raju stroked his chin thoughtfully to make sure that an apostolic beard had not suddenly grown there. It was still smooth.

Related Characters: Raju, Velan
Related Symbols: Water
Page Number: 2
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 2 Quotes

Where could he go? He had not trained himself to make a living out of hard work. Food was coming to him unasked now. If he went away somewhere else certainly nobody was going to take the trouble to bring him food in return for just waiting for it.

Related Characters: Raju, The Villagers
Related Symbols: Water
Page Number: 24
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 3 Quotes

One fine day, beyond the tamarind tree the station building was ready. The steel tracks gleamed in the sun; the signal posts stood with their red and green stripes and their colorful lamps; and our world was neatly divided into this side of the railway line and that side.

Related Characters: Raju (speaker), Raju’s Father, Raju’s Mother, Velan
Related Symbols: The Railway, Malgudi
Page Number: 27
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 4 Quotes

Raju himself was not certain why he had advised that, and so he added, “If you do it you will know why.” The essence of sainthood seemed to lie in one’s ability to utter mystifying statements.

Related Characters: Raju (speaker), The Villagers
Related Symbols: Water
Page Number: 38
Explanation and Analysis:

Raju soon realized that his spiritual status would be enhanced if he grew a beard and long hair to fall on his nape. A clean-shaven, close-haired saint was an anomaly.

Related Characters: Raju, The Villagers
Related Symbols: Water
Page Number: 39
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 5 Quotes

I pointed out to him something as the greatest, the highest, the only one in the world. I gave statistics out of my head. I mentioned a relic as belonging to the thirteenth century before Christ or the thirteenth century after Christ, according to the mood of the hour.

Related Characters: Raju (speaker), Velan
Related Symbols: Malgudi
Page Number: 43
Explanation and Analysis:

The man pulled out his gourd flute and played on it shrilly, and the cobra raised itself and darted hither and thither and swayed…[Rosie] stretched out her arm slightly and swayed it in imitation of the movement; she swayed her whole body to the rhythm—for just a second, but that was sufficient to tell me

what she was, the greatest dancer of the century.

Related Characters: Raju (speaker), Rosie / Nalini, Marco Polo
Related Symbols: The Serpent
Page Number: 51
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 6 Quotes

[…] he suddenly noticed at the end of the year that the skies never dimmed with cloud. The summer seemed to continue. Raju inquired, “Where are the rains?”

Related Characters: Raju (speaker), The Villagers
Related Symbols: Water
Page Number: 70
Explanation and Analysis:

Did they expect him to starve for fifteen days and stand in knee-deep water for eight hours? He sat up.

Related Characters: Raju, The Villagers, Velan’s Brother
Related Symbols: Water
Page Number: 85
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 7 Quotes

I was accepted by Marco as a member of the family. From guiding tourists I seemed to have come to a sort of concentrated guiding of a single family.

Related Characters: Raju (speaker), Rosie / Nalini, Marco Polo
Related Symbols: Malgudi
Page Number: 88
Explanation and Analysis:

Rosie was lying on her bed with eyes shut. (Was she in a faint? I wondered for a second.) I had never seen her in such a miserable condition before. He was sitting in his chair, elbow on the table, his chin on his fist. I had never seen him so vacant before.

Related Characters: Raju (speaker), Rosie / Nalini, Marco Polo
Related Symbols: Malgudi
Page Number: 105
Explanation and Analysis:

“[…] I followed him, day after day, like a dog—waiting on his grace. He ignored me totally. I could never have imagined that one human being could ignore the presence of another human being so completely.”

Related Characters: Rosie / Nalini (speaker), Raju, Marco Polo
Related Symbols: Malgudi
Page Number: 118
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 8 Quotes

“You are not of our family? Are you of our clan?” He again waited for her to answer and answered himself. “No. Are you of our caste? No. Our class? No. Do we know you? No. Do you belong to this house? No. In that case, why are you here? After all, you are a dancing girl. We do not admit them in our families. Understand?”

Related Characters: Raju (speaker), Raju’s Uncle (speaker), Rosie / Nalini, Raju’s Mother
Page Number: 133
Explanation and Analysis:

I dressed myself soberly for the part in a sort of rough-spun silk shirt and an upper cloth and a handspun and handwoven dhoti, and I wore rimless glasses—a present from Marco at one of our first meetings. I wore a wristwatch—all this in my view lent such weight to what I said that they had to listen to me respectfully. I too felt changed; I had ceased to be the old Railway Raju.

Related Characters: Raju (speaker), Rosie / Nalini
Related Symbols: The Railway
Page Number: 139
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 9 Quotes

I silently fretted. I liked her to be happy—but only in my company. This group of miscellaneous art folk I didn’t quite approve.

Related Characters: Raju (speaker), Rosie / Nalini
Page Number: 149
Explanation and Analysis:

It seemed absurd that we should earn less than the maximum we could manage. My philosophy was that while it lasted the maximum money had to be squeezed out. We needed all the money in the world.

Related Characters: Raju (speaker), Rosie / Nalini
Page Number: 153
Explanation and Analysis:

[…] I carried [the book] to my most secret, guarded place in the house—the liquor chest, adjoining the card room, the key of which I carried next to my heart—stuffed the volume out of sight, and locked it up. Nalini never went near it. I did not mention the book to her.

Related Characters: Raju (speaker), Rosie / Nalini, Marco Polo
Page Number: 156
Explanation and Analysis:

I found a scrap of paper and made a careful trial of Rosie’s signature. I had her sign so many checks and receipts each day that I was very familiar with it.

Then I carefully spread out the application form and wrote on the indicated line: “Rosie, Nalini.”

Related Characters: Raju (speaker), Rosie / Nalini, Marco Polo
Page Number: 164
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 10 Quotes

I was now a sort of hanger-on in the house; ever since she had released me from police custody, the mastery had passed to her. I fretted inwardly at the thought of it. When the first shock of the affair had subsided, she became hardened. She never spoke to me except as to a tramp she had salvaged.

Related Characters: Raju (speaker), Rosie / Nalini, Marco Polo
Page Number: 173
Explanation and Analysis:

I felt like telling Mani, “Be careful. She’ll lead you on before you know where you are, and then you will find yourself in my shoes all of a sudden! Beware the snake woman!” I knew my mind was not working either normally or fairly. I knew I was growing jealous of her self-reliance. But I forgot for the

moment that she was doing it all for my sake.

Related Characters: Raju (speaker), Rosie / Nalini, Mani
Related Symbols: The Serpent
Page Number: 176
Explanation and Analysis:

But on Friday and Saturday I turned the last page of the Hindu with trembling fingers—and the last column in its top portion always displayed the same block, Nalini’s photograph, the name of the institution where she was performing, and the price of tickets. Now at this corner of South India, now there, next week in Ceylon, and another week in Bombay or Delhi. Her empire was expanding rather than shrinking.

Related Characters: Raju (speaker), Rosie / Nalini
Page Number: 181-182
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 11 Quotes

Raju asked, “Now you have heard me fully?” […]

“Yes, Swami.”

Raju was taken aback at still being addressed as “Swami.” “What do you think of it?”

Velan looked quite pained at having to answer such a question. “I don’t know why you tell me all this, Swami. It’s very kind of you to address at such length your humble servant.”

Related Characters: Raju (speaker), Velan (speaker)
Page Number: 184
Explanation and Analysis:

“Will you tell us something about your early life?”

“What do you want me to say?”

“Er—for instance, have you always been a yogi?”

“Yes; more or less.”

Related Characters: Raju (speaker)
Page Number: 193
Explanation and Analysis:

The morning sun was out by now; a great shaft of light illuminated the surroundings. It was difficult to hold Raju on his feet, as he had a tendency to flop down. They held him as if he were a baby. Raju opened his eyes, looked about, and said, “Velan, it’s raining in the hills. I can feel it coming up under my feet, up my legs—” He sagged down.

Related Characters: Raju (speaker), Velan
Related Symbols: Water
Page Number: 196
Explanation and Analysis:
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Raju Character Timeline in The Guide

The timeline below shows where the character Raju appears in The Guide. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
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Sitting on a granite slab by a river, Raju is approached by a stranger, who looks up at him reverentially. Slightly disconcerted by the... (full context)
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Raju’s musings on his facial hair lead him back to his last visit to a barber... (full context)
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On the river bank, Raju finds the stranger still seated on the steps below him, looking at him with devotion.... (full context)
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Before the stranger, whose name is Velan, shares his problem, the narrative jumps forward to Raju telling Velan his life story. His troubles began, he says, when he met Rosie, a... (full context)
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Raju flatters and praises Rosie’s talents whenever he finds the opportunity and whenever they are out... (full context)
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Raju says that he was fated to become a guide. As a child, he had grown... (full context)
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Raju’s father made a living from a small shop he built on the premises of the... (full context)
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...the riverbank, Velan is seated on the steps that lead down to the river, telling Raju that he has a problem. Raju has felt important ever since this man gazed up... (full context)
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Velan, impressed by the weightiness of Raju’s statements, tells him that the youngest daughter of his late father’s third wife, for whom... (full context)
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After Velan leaves, Raju sits watching the river for a long time and counting the stars. He has a... (full context)
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The next morning, Raju awakens to find Velan standing with his sister, a fourteen year old girl. Raju, still... (full context)
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Nonetheless, Raju takes the basket and places it at the foot of a stone image of a... (full context)
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Raju remembers being back in Malgudi, his mother telling him stories as they waited for his... (full context)
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On the riverbank, Raju is still sitting on the steps with Velan and his sister patiently waiting for him... (full context)
Chapter 2
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Raju tells Velan of the construction of the railway in Malgudi, across the street from his... (full context)
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One day, Raju gets into a fight with a boy who encroaches on the red mountain of earth... (full context)
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Each morning, Raju’s mother makes a fuss over Raju as she dresses and prepares him for school. He... (full context)
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Despite the chaos of the pyol school, Raju makes enough progress to qualify for first standard at the Board High School. On the... (full context)
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By the riverbank near the small village of Mangal, Velan appears, bursting to tell Raju that his sister has admitted her follies before the family and has accepted Velan’s decision... (full context)
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Grateful to Raju for helping him conclude the affair with his sister, Velan comes to invite Raju to... (full context)
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After the wedding incident, Raju’s circle begins to widen as news of his success with Velan’s sister spreads. Other villagers... (full context)
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One day, Raju hides himself in the temple. Villagers arrive as usual, wondering where he has gone to.... (full context)
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The next day, Raju wakes up, and contemplates his future. He must decide whether he will go back to... (full context)
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Having decided on his course, Raju sets up a place in the temple beside the river for himself with a better... (full context)
Chapter 3
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Raju tells of the day that the railway line is finally completed in Malgudi. Everyone in... (full context)
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The railway is good for Raju’s father’s shop, which prospers as a result of the growing population around the railway station.... (full context)
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Raju’s father makes a deal with a groom, who hires the carriage to sell goods in... (full context)
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Raju’s father is given the privilege to run a fancier, bigger shop at the railway station.... (full context)
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Raju takes his father’s place at the hut shop—the original shop built on the premises of... (full context)
Chapter 4
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Back at the riverbank, the boy whom Raju had sent to his uncle announces the return of the “saint,” and soon the villagers... (full context)
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Raju recalls that, in spite of dropping school, he had continued to read in between serving... (full context)
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...arrived at the temple for instruction with their teacher, are rapt by the stories that Raju tells them. Soon, their parents also arrive to hear Raju’s stories. (full context)
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As the gatherings around Raju grow, he can’t help feeling like an actor. Indeed, on one occasion, he is asked... (full context)
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At the next gathering, Raju chants holy refrains, which the audience repeats. The villagers also decorate the halls of the... (full context)
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Raju decides to grow his beard in order to look more like an authentic holy man.... (full context)
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Raju not only chants holy verses in his role as spiritual guide, he also discourses on... (full context)
Chapter 5
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After his father dies, Raju comes to be known as “Railway Raju.” Visitors arriving in Malgudi by train ask him... (full context)
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Raju, eager to please Rosie, searches for a cobra. While Marco is busy examining an ancient... (full context)
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The next morning, Raju and Gaffur duly arrive at the hotel at the allotted time. Marco emerges without Rosie... (full context)
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Raju goes to the hotel room and knocks, telling Rosie through the doorway that he is... (full context)
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...lanterns as night approaches. At dinner, Rosie insists on serving the meal and accidentally touches Raju, who is electrified and haunted by her touch. (full context)
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After dinner, Marco announces that he intends to spend the evening reading, and so Raju and Rosie go to sit in the house’s glass veranda, through which they can watch... (full context)
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The next morning, the mood is tense. Marco appears without Rosie, and when Raju presses him on her whereabouts, Marco says to leave her alone. Raju wonders what has... (full context)
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Looking for an excuse to check on Rosie, Raju pretends he hears Gaffur’s taxi and excuses himself from Marco for a brief visit to... (full context)
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Rosie, perhaps prompted by Raju’s flattery, opens up about her conflicts with Marco. She tells Raju that she had married... (full context)
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When Raju touches Rosie after she finishes speaking, she does not refuse his touch. Emboldened, Raju again... (full context)
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...the House to continue with his research. After they decide to remain at Peak House, Raju accompanies Rosie back to Malgudi with Gaffur to pick up more things for the extended... (full context)
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In Malgudi, Raju briefly stops at his house, where his mother confronts him, full of questions about his... (full context)
Chapter 6
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At the riverbank near the village of Mangal, months or years have passed. Raju’s hair and beard have grown long; his repute has grown so much that he has... (full context)
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One year, Raju notices that there has been no rain. The river has shrunk, and the food offerings... (full context)
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One day, Velan asks Raju to go with him to a forest path to examine a dead buffalo in the... (full context)
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The day after the fight, Velan’s brother comes to Raju to inform him that Velan has been injured. Raju is not sure what he is... (full context)
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...with the shopkeepers. Afraid to tell the villagers that he has mentioned the fight to Raju, he muddles up Raju’s message, suggesting that Raju has undertaken not to eat until the... (full context)
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The villagers decide to visit the swami by the river. At the gathering, Raju waits for the food offerings that they always present to him, but no offerings appear.... (full context)
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Velan tells Raju that everyone is hoping for Raju to come through the ordeal safely. The villagers come... (full context)
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Raju, finally alone, attempts to sleep, but finds it difficult. He wonders whether the villagers actually... (full context)
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When Velan returns the next night, Raju asks him what makes him think that Raju can bring about rain. Raju tells Velan... (full context)
Chapter 7
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Returning to his past in Malgudi, Raju speaks to Velan about how he continued to devote himself to Marco’s care. Marco decides... (full context)
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While Rosie continues her affair with Raju, she also begins to show excessive consideration for Marco, still up in Mempi Hills. One... (full context)
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Raju and Rosie go up to Peak House, with the plan that Rosie will speak to... (full context)
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Raju leaves Peak House for Malgudi to allow Rosie time to speak to Marco. He returns... (full context)
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Gaffur, who has driven Raju to Peak House, advises Raju to leave Rosie and Marco alone. In retrospect, Raju thinks... (full context)
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...also in the room—neither she nor her husband emerge to disclose what is going on. Raju goes to the room with food and opens the door, only to find Rosie lying... (full context)
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Raju returns to Malgudi with Gaffur. In town, he attempts to return to his previous life... (full context)
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A month passes. One day, Rosie appears at the door to Raju’s house. She is carrying a trunk and a bag. Raju, shocked by Rosie’s reappearance, tells... (full context)
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Raju hires Gaffur to take him and Rosie on an outing to the beach in Malgudi.... (full context)
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After her disclosure, Rosie felt terribly sinful and sad over her affair with Raju, and she followed her husband to the caves, where he proceeded to ignore her for... (full context)
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After listening to Rosie’s story, Raju comforts her and tells her that he will make the world recognize her as the... (full context)
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Totally caught up by Rosie’s arrival at his home, Raju further neglects the railway shop, which is not doing well under the care of the... (full context)
Chapter 8
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...of his railway shop, the Sait, a wholesale merchant at the market who was also Raju’s creditor, arrives at the house and demands that Raju pay back the 8,000 rupees he... (full context)
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Within a few days of the Sait’s visit, Raju finds himself involved in court affairs—the Sait has brought a criminal case against him. Raju... (full context)
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Raju’s uncle—his mother’s eldest brother—appears unexpectedly one day at the house. The uncle castigates Raju. When... (full context)
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The next morning, Raju’s uncle renews the fight by saying that the train is arriving in an hour and... (full context)
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After his mother’s departure, Raju and Rosie continue living as a married couple. Rosie diligently practices her art every day,... (full context)
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Raju begins looking for opportunities for Rosie and approaches the Albert Mission School. In order to... (full context)
Chapter 9
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Continuing to narrate to Velan, Raju recalls Rosie’s rise to stardom. While, in retrospect, Raju reflects that Rosie—by virtue of her... (full context)
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Raju’s creditor, the Sait, is still pursing Raju in the courts of Malgudi. Upon learning from... (full context)
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Raju and Rosie move to a new, large, two-story house in a fashionable part of Malgudi.... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
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Raju and Rosie, followed by a posse of musicians, travel to engagements hundreds of miles away,... (full context)
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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... (full context)
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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... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
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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... (full context)
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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... (full context)
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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... (full context)
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Raju and Rosie depart for a performance in a city 60 miles away from Malgudi. The... (full context)
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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... (full context)
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Outside the auditorium, Raju meets the superintendent, who is an acquaintance. He is not in uniform. The superintendent takes... (full context)
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At home, Raju pleads with the superintendent to give him more time to speak to Rosie. When Raju... (full context)
Chapter 10
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Continuing to tell his tale to Velan, Raju speaks of the two days he was forced to spend in lock-up after his arrest... (full context)
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Back in the house after his two days in jail, Raju realizes that he is now a “hanger-on,” and “that mastery ha[s] passed” on to Rosie.... (full context)
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...going back to Marco. She says that she never wants to perform publicly again, after Raju’s disgrace. She also considers a suicide pact with Raju, but doesn’t trust that he will... (full context)
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With Mani’s help, Rosie busies herself with booking engagements. Watching her, Raju becomes jealous of her self-sufficiency, realizing that she did not need him, and had never... (full context)
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...that Rosie raises from her performances, she hires a reputable, but expensive, lawyer to defend Raju against Marco in the upcoming trial. (full context)
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At the trial, Raju’s lawyer presents the chief villain as Marco, who, he argues, wanted to drive Rosie mad.... (full context)
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In jail, Raju is a model prisoner, getting on well with both warders and prisoners. Raju adjusts himself... (full context)
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The prison superintendent transfers Raju to his office to act as his personal assistant. While organizing the super’s newspapers, Raju... (full context)
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Raju wonders whether Mani, his old secretary, has taken his place in Rosie’s life. Mani had... (full context)
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On the last day of the trial, Raju’s mother had appeared. She had refused to let Rosie speak to her, and, directing her... (full context)
Chapter 11
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Back in the present by the riverbank, Raju has told his story throughout the night and a rooster crows as he finishes. Raju... (full context)
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As news of Raju’s fasting penance to end the drought continues to spread far and wide, newspaper correspondents arrive... (full context)
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Finally, having run out of any kind of nourishment and completely lacking any privacy, Raju gives up on food. For the first time in his life, he decides to make... (full context)
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...to make a film about the Swami’s heroic fast. In an interview, the American asks Raju, “Have you always been a yogi?” and Raju answers, “Yes; more or less.” (full context)
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By the last day of the fast, Raju’s condition has worsened considerably. The government doctors who have been sent to the temple to... (full context)
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Raju, although weak to the point of being unable to stand upright alone, nonetheless wants to... (full context)
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Supported by Velan in the river, Raju suddenly stirs, opens his eyes. He tells Velan that it’s rain coming in the hills... (full context)