Character Sketch – Raju in R. K. Narayan's 'The Guide'

  • “We are free to infer that, on the last day of the fast, Raju, "Swami” dies opportunely, a martyr.” – Discuss.
  • Some are born saints, some achieve sanctity, and some have sanctity thrust upon them. Perhaps, Raju is one of these last! –Discuss.
  • Sketch of the  Character of – Raju in R. K. Narayan's The Guide.
Introduction:- In his last three novels, R. K. Narayan has been trying – like a stonemason laboring to make a goddess come out of a stone – to make a good man a godly man, grow out of a man of the earth. Raju in The Guide is doubtless half knave half fool, and he remains such when he allows himself to be mistaken for a Swami, a spiritual Guide, by the simple people of Mangala. But some days after he is trapped into commencing his fast, change gradually comes over him:“For the first time in his life he was making an earnest effort, for the first time he was learning the thrill of full application, outside money and love; for the first time he was doing a thing in which he was not personally interested.” He fasts, and he prays and he enjoys this experience, this enjoyment, he teals himself is something the faith of the people made a new man of him? Isn’t he redeemed indeed? Some are born saints some achieve sanctity and some have sanctity thrust upon them, perhaps Raju is one of the last!

A romantic A rascal:- The principal character of The Guide, Raju is a romantic doubled with a rascal like his fictional predecessors, Margayya and Sympathy. Raju too plays many parts and puts into practice some of Dr. Pal’s pregnant ideas on Tourism. Trying to help a rich visitor, Marco in his researches, Raju is involved in a tangle of new relationships. Rosie, Mareo’s wife becomes Raju’s lover. Abandoned by Marco, Rosie realizes with Raju’s help, her ambition of becoming a dancer. But his possessive instinct finally betrays him into a criminal action, and he is charged of and convicted of forgery. The railway Raju becomes Raju guide and entrepreneur and a convict, a seducer like Alec.
R. K. Narayan
Caught in the coil of his self-deception:  Coming out of the jail, Raju cuts off all connection with the past and sets up as a sort of as ascetic or mahatma. And once again caught in the coils of his own self deception, and he is obliged to undertake a twenty day fast to end a drought that threatens the district with a famine. In vain he tells his chief disciple Velan, the whole truth about himself and Rosie, and about the crash and the incarceration. But nobody would now believe that he is or has been-anyone other than a mahatma. He has made his bed, and he must perforce lie on it. We are free inferring that on the last day of the fast he dies opportunely, a martyr: …… “Velan its raining in the hills. I am can feel it coming up under my feet, up my legs…. And with that he sagged down.

Does it really rain? : Does it really rains or is it only Raju’s optical delusion? Does he really die or merely sink down in exhaustion? Has the lie really become truth or has it been merely exposed? We are free to conclude was we like; Narayan might say in Pirandellian fashion “Right you are if you think so!”
Realization and Nemesis in Raju’s life: The present and past are cunningly jumbled to produce an impression of suspense and anticipation in The Guide. We begin with Raju’s release from prison and Velan’s recognition Swami in him. The earlier history of Raju is supposed to be related by him to Velan much later when the fast is in progress. This zig-zag narration gives piquancy to the novel with out quite confusing the reader. We are enable to see the action as Raju sees it, and as the latter Raju sober sees the earlier Raju Drunk. Yet Raju lacks the sheer exuberance and vitality of Sympathy and Margayya. 
After all the alarums and excursions, all the excitement and suspense, all the regrets and recriminations Raju realizes that neither Marco nor I had any place in Rosie’s life which had its own sustaining vitality and which she herself had underestimated all along Rosie’s own summing my is masterly : I felt all along you were not doing right things. This is karma. What can we do? There is in deed no failure of nemesis in The Guide
 Conclusion: In The Guide the hero Raju floats as gently as a lily pad on the surface of Indian life and yet suggests to the depths beneath. It manages to describe a saint who is neither born made but simply happens almost like the weather. 

Ref: 1. History of English Literature- Albert
      2. The Concise Cambridge History of English Literature

Now give short answer of the following questions:

a. What story of Buddha does Raju tell in the beginning to influence his listeners with his knowledge?
b. Which school does Raju intend to study in? Why does his father not send him to that school?
c. ‘Wanted: an educated, good-looking girl to marry a rich bachelor of academic interests ...‘Whose matrimonial consists of these words? Comment on the social significance of this matrimonial.
d. ‘For the first time in his life he was making an earnest effort’. Which effort is referred to here? Why is it earnest?
e. On which myths is Narayan’s The Guide based? Discuss the myths in The Guide.
f. What is the significance of Rosie’s name? How has Narayan depicted her relationship with Marco?  
g. How does Narayan’s Malgudi depict a picture of India? What significance does the name Malgudi have?

h. ‘I had managed to get a medical certiicate to say that I needed alcohol for my welfare.’ When does Raju make this remark? What social significance does this remark have?
i. ‘Hundreds of people were now walking across the lake bed to visit the temple ...‘Which temple is referred to here? Does this have any connection with the source of The Guide?


  1. Sir,needs some important lines from the Guide by r.k.narayan as 2 marks.

  2. story of sanyasi is more interesting than railway raju...

  3. Dear Sansuma, it is quite right- the transformation is the key.

  4. Not good but only main things are written in this para


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