AD's English Literature : Analysis of Mulk Raj Anand’s Story, "The Lost Child": Accepted Part of Our Multicultural Neighborhood in the World

Analysis of Mulk Raj Anand’s Story, "The Lost Child": Accepted Part of Our Multicultural Neighborhood in the World

Simply, Mulk Raj Anand’s story, The Lost Child narrates how a little boy was lost in the crowd of a village fair. It tells us how on his way to the fair he was attracted by various things such as toys, sweetmeat, balloons and birds, butterflies and flowers. But what attracted him most was the roundabout. It made him forget his parents and everything else in the world. Thus he lagged far behind his parents and got lost in the crowd of the fair. Here, Anand deals with the child psychology in a sensitive way without shying away from its reality. We too have grown up as an accepted part of our multicultural neighborhood in the world.  Anand’s at his strongest when writing about the Child’s classic confrontational relationship with his world without parents. Young adult readers will be able to identify with the lost child’s struggle to live within his family’s ambit while trying to discover his own world outside.


On the day of the spring festival a large crowd of brightly dressed people came out of the lanes of a city and proceeded towards the village fair. Among them was a little boy following his parents. The little boy lagged behind his parents as he was attracted by a toy-shop. He wanted a toy but received only an angry look from his father and his kind-hearted mother only asked him to see what was before him. The child began to sob but when he saw what lay before him; his eyes were filled with delight. It was a mustard field in flower, which stretched for miles like a rippling yellow river.

The child’s joy knew no bounds. He left the footpath and entered into the mustard-field and began to chase some dragon-flies and a black bee or a butterfly. He tried to catch one of them but he was called by his mother to come back to the foot-path. He joined his parents and for some time walked side by side, but again left them being ‘attracted by a number of little worms and insects. He was again called back by his parents who were now sitting on the edge of a well. They were seated under an old banyan tree which spread its branches over smaller trees such as the champak and gulmohur.

The Lost Child does treat some very important issues. Central to it is humankind's responsibility to world outside. The episodes dealing with the stranded crowds en route to gala are exciting. They are handled realistically: Anand does not underplay the surging of the Indian crowd, and he definitely shows that trying to rescue them in order is a largely futile activity. Still, most of the characters in the story, including the narrator, are convinced that it is one's duty to try to fun and frolic them anyway. Some may find hidden humour in the story. Its central humor is maturity, and its ideas about maturity are open to serious questions. Anand’s idea that maturity can be measured in terms of things like losing the child by the parents or the child loses his parents?

When they had almost reached the fair, the child was attracted by the cries of a sweetmeat-seller. His mouth watered for the burfi which was his favourite sweet He knew that his desire would not be fulfilled , yet he spoke of it in a whisper then moved on without waiting for an answer The next attraction was the rainbow - coloured balloons but he was sure that he would be refused. Then they came to a snake-charmer who was playing on a flute before a snake. But the child had to pass on. The greatest attraction for the child came next. It was a roundabout in full swing. He watched it going round and round with a merry band of men, women, and children on it. As soon as it stopped he boldly asked his parents for the pleasure of a ride on the roundabout. But when he turned round he could not find them anywhere. With a heart-rending cry of fear and grief, the weeping child ran about madly in search of his parents, but there was no sign of them. His turban came off and his clothes became wet with sweat and mud. Tired from running the little boy stood sobbing for some time and then started running again. This time he ran to a crowded temple. Desperately he ran through People’s legs, crying ‘mother, father’. At the door of the temple the crowd was so thick that he was knocked down and was about to be trampled when he was picked up by a man in the crowd. The man came out of the thick crowd with the boy and asked him whose baby he was, but the child only cried bitterly, saying that he wanted his father and mother. The kindhearted man tried to console the child by offering him a ride on the roundabout, but the child repeated his cry for his parents. The man next took him to the snake-charmer but he refused to listen to his flute; then he offered to buy him the bright-coloured balloons. Finally, the man tried to console him with some sweets, but all his efforts failed; the child only sobbed ‘I want my mother, I want my father.’

The Lost Child contains as usual Indian settings, characters, and actions. Like other Anand’s story of good humane fantasies, it serves as a metaphor for human life. It tells the story of a physical and psychological quest of a child, of our growth in creativity, compassion, and confidence. In the The Lost Child, it raises investigations about parenting, the function of imagination, the preambles of growing up, and the relationship of wishes and reality. Many people have recognized these deeper levels of the story.

(Life and works of the Author Mulk Raj Anand: famous Indian writer and art critic was born in Peshawar in the Punjnb on December 12, 1905. He spent his early life in military camps. He was educated first at the Punjab University from where he graduated Then he went to England and studied Philosophy in London and Cambridge Universities. He was awarded the Ph. D. Degree by the London University for his original researches in Philosophy. While in England he was for sometime lecturer in Philosophy and literature to the London County Council. He was, also on the staff of the B.B.C. and a film-script writer under the British Ministry of Information. He returned to India in 1929. He edited several magazines. Later, he became the editor of Marg, a famous art journal. He breathed his last on September 28, 2004.)

1 comment:

  1. Dear Sir,
    You have been rendering a noble service.
    Hats off to you!

    ReplyDelete

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