The Price of Flowers By Prabhat Kumar Mukhopadhyay

Introduction

“The price of Flowers” is an emotionally touching story about a young but poor British teenage girl, Maggie, who sacrifices her hard-earned shilling for offering a floral tribute to her dead brother, Frank. Her sacrifice and the contentment derived out of it are invaluable and priceless.

Summary

The story is about a young teenage British girl, Maggie, her widowed mother, Mrs Clifford and her soldier Brother, Frank. Frank was posted as a soldier in the British Army on the frontier in India. Maggie and her mother were too much worried and apprehensive about Frank as they had no information about him for the past many months. Mrs Clifford wanted to meet some Indian who could remove her misconception about India and apprehensions about the safety of her son. Fortunately, Maggie met an Indian, Mr Gupta in a London Restaurant. She pleaded to him and he agreed to accompany her poor household in Lambeth.

After a detailed discussion with Mr Gupta, Mrs Clifford was greatly relieved. However, she took him for a yogi and wanted him to concentrate on the crystal of the ring sent by Frank as a gift from India. The ring was supposed to have magical powers and could be used to predict about any person while focusing on it. Mr Gupta did not believe in these superstitions but at the insistence of Maggie was compelled to have a look at the ring, though he failed miserably.

About three months later Mrs. Clifford‘s health condition worsened seriously. Maggie wrote a letter to Mr Gupta and wanted him to provide a helping hand. When Mr Gupta arrived, Maggie requested him to concentrate on the ring again and hinted to him to lie about Frank‘s safety, for the sake of her mother. Mr Gupta did exactly the same and Mrs Clifford recovered instantly.

However, Frank had already been killed at that time on the frontier in India. When it was time for Mr Gupta to return to India, he did not have the courage to go to Maggie’s home for offering condolences and to inform them about his departure, for he felt ashamed of what he had told them about Frank. So he informed them through a letter. A day before his departure, Maggie visited him to say goodbye and at the same time handed him a shilling for offering flowers on the grave of her brother. At first, Mr Gupta felt reluctant to take the money but then he realized that he should not deprive Maggie of the satisfaction of that sacrifice, which was so invaluable and priceless.

Theme/Message

The story has a powerful theme that we should feel empathy for the poor and downtrodden, especially when they feel pride in working hard with dignity. Besides, we should honour the feelings and emotions of our fellow human beings. Even the smallest gesture shown and expressed in a sincere way carries a lot of importance and no wealth in the world can be compared to it.

Characterization

Maggie, Mrs Clifford and Mr Gupta are important characters in the story. Maggie is a young, teenage British girl whose perception of beauty, decency, refinement and truthfulness coupled with her innocence and sincerity, are overwhelming and praiseworthy. Her sense of decency and self-dignity beat Mr Gupta when she accompanies him to her home in Lambeth. She is sensitive to her situation and responsibilities and singlehandedly takes care of her mother by working hard and overtime. She is a loving sister who is much concerned about her brother and at the end sets an example through her willingness to sacrifice her hard-earned money for the sake of her brother.

Mrs Clifford is also a loving and self-sacrificing woman. Though she is a widow, she takes care of her family with a courageous heart. She is always concerned about the safety of her children.

Mr Gupta is a learned and educated Indian gentleman. He is sincere and compassionate. He goes an extra mile to help Maggie and her mother in distress.

Title of the story

The title of the story is appropriate as it highlights the love of a sister for her brother and the importance of Maggie’s sacrifice.

The Price of Flowers By Prabhat Kumar Mukhopadhyay: Summary, Theme, Characterization, Title and Questions

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