The Guide

by

R. K. Narayan

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The Railway Symbol Analysis

The Railway Symbol Icon

The railway, which comes to Raju’s hometown of Malgudi when he is still a child, represents modernization and industrialization. Raju and his family watch in awe as construction workers appear to build the tracks and the railway station which is located right across from Raju’s family home. On the day the railway is completed and the station is officially opened, the town is given a holiday in celebration. Indeed, the construction of the railway line to Malgudi changes the villagers’ lives in many ways. Raju’s family, for instance, grows wealthier as a result of the second shop that Raju’s father opens in the station. Raju’s own career prospects are transformed by the railway, when visitors who arrive by train become the customers that he leads as a tourist guide. The railway not only improves the financial prospects of Raju’s family; it also opens the family and the town’s inhabitants to a broader world beyond Malgudi—exposing them to people from all over India, and from different walks of life. As such, in symbolizing modernization and industrialization, the depiction of the railway in the novel alludes to the ways in which these forces have the capacity to transform people’s material, social, and cultural prospects.

The Railway Quotes in The Guide

The The Guide quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Railway. 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 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 8 Quotes

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:
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The Railway Symbol Timeline in The Guide

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Railway appears in The Guide. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Hypocrisy and Disguise Theme Icon
Gender and Feminism Theme Icon
...to undertake an expedition—which prompts Raju, upon meeting him for the first time in the railway station, to refer to him as Marco Polo. (full context)
Transformation and Redemption Theme Icon
Tradition vs. Modernity Theme Icon
...a guide. As a child, he had grown up in a small house opposite the railway station of Malgudi, in a house built by his father long before trains arrived in... (full context)
Chapter 2
Tradition vs. Modernity Theme Icon
Raju tells Velan of the construction of the railway in Malgudi, across the street from his father’s house. Construction workers have begun work on... (full context)
Tradition vs. Modernity Theme Icon
Greed and Materialism Theme Icon
...a fight with a boy who encroaches on the red mountain of earth by the railway construction site that has become Raju’s territory. Raju pounces and curses the boy, who runs... (full context)
Chapter 3
Tradition vs. Modernity Theme Icon
Raju tells of the day that the railway line is finally completed in Malgudi. Everyone in the town is given a holiday to... (full context)
Tradition vs. Modernity Theme Icon
Greed and Materialism Theme Icon
The railway is good for Raju’s father’s shop, which prospers as a result of the growing population... (full context)
Tradition vs. Modernity Theme Icon
Greed and Materialism Theme Icon
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... (full context)
Transformation and Redemption Theme Icon
Tradition vs. Modernity Theme Icon
Greed and Materialism Theme Icon
...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,... (full context)
Chapter 4
Tradition vs. Modernity Theme Icon
Greed and Materialism Theme Icon
...spite of dropping school, he had continued to read in between serving customers at the railway shop. Raju’s father died suddenly during the rainy season of that year. With his mother’s... (full context)
Chapter 5
Hypocrisy and Disguise Theme Icon
Transformation and Redemption Theme Icon
Tradition vs. Modernity Theme Icon
Greed and Materialism Theme Icon
...father dies, Raju comes to be known as “Railway Raju.” Visitors arriving in Malgudi by train ask him for his guidance in exploring the sites of the town. With the help... (full context)
Hypocrisy and Disguise Theme Icon
Gender and Feminism Theme Icon
Tradition vs. Modernity Theme Icon
Greed and Materialism Theme Icon
...the nickname Marco. Shortly after arriving, Marco had asked Raju to take him to the railway station to meet a train coming from Madras. From this train, Rosie had stepped down,... (full context)
Chapter 7
Hypocrisy and Disguise Theme Icon
Greed and Materialism Theme Icon
...Malgudi with Gaffur. In town, he attempts to return to his previous life at the railway shop, and he returns to showing tourists around. But his mind is troubled. He feels... (full context)
Transformation and Redemption Theme Icon
Gender and Feminism Theme Icon
Tradition vs. Modernity Theme Icon
...Marco packed up, and she followed him down to the hotel in Malgudi. At the train station, to which she also followed him, he told her that he had no ticket... (full context)
Greed and Materialism Theme Icon
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 porter’s son, whom he... (full context)
Chapter 8
Tradition vs. Modernity Theme Icon
Greed and Materialism Theme Icon
Shortly after the loss of his railway shop, the Sait, a wholesale merchant at the market who was also Raju’s creditor, arrives... (full context)
Gender and Feminism Theme Icon
Tradition vs. Modernity Theme Icon
The next morning, Raju’s uncle renews the fight by saying that the train is arriving in an hour and he asks whether Rosie is ready to leave. Raju’s... (full context)