The English Teacher By R. K. Narayan (Study Guide)


The English Teacher is R.K. Narayan’s greatest among his works. This was his third novel. It was published in 1945. It is the loveliest, nicest, and most sensitive love story and spiritual romance ever written. It is the love story of Krishna, the English teacher, and his wife, the vivacious Susila. Both have a deep and abiding love for one another. Their love is genuine and unwavering, and it never changes. Their love is heavenly, much like Romeo and Juliet’s. Her affection for him is as silent as Viola’s in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. She is madly in love with him. When he returns home from college, she waits for him with bated breath. There is a lovely scene in which she expresses her feelings for him: “I left the college usually at 4.30 p.m., the moment the last bell rang, and avoiding all interruptions reached home within about twenty minutes. As soon as I turned street, I caught a glimpse of Susila tinkering at her little garden in our compound, or watching our child as she toddled about picking pebbles and mud…It was not in my wife’s nature to be demonstrative, but I knew she waited there for me’’. (The English Teacher 35)

The present novel The English Teacher is critically examined in terms of theme, storyline, characterisation, setting, social values, cultural values, and philosophical ideals as depicted by Narayan. The novel was published in the year of 1945 and is preceded by Swami and Friends (1935) and The Bachelor of Arts (1937). The work dedicated to Narayan’s wife Rajam is not just autobiographical, but also profound in its intensity of feeling. The plot revolves around Krishna, an English teacher, and his quest for inner peace and self-development.

Chapter- Wise Summary

The English Teacher novel is divided into eight chapters.

Chapter -I

Krishna is the main character of this beautiful novel and he is an English teacher at Albert Mission College in Malgudi, where he was formerly a student. In the first chapter of the novel, he describes a typical day at work. He goes about his task mechanically, gaining no genuine joy or satisfaction from it. As a result, he is amused when the Principal, Mr Brown, convenes a faculty meeting after college hours to impress upon his colleagues, particularly those in the department of English, the need of maintaining purity and perfection in the language. He is especially irritated when pupils use American spellings for English words, such as spelling “honours” as “honors.” Krishna attempts to lighten the mood, but his head and old instructor Gajapathy sides with Brown. He informs Gajapathy that there are worse sins in the world than a dropped vowel, but Gajapathy simply walks away.

Krishna discusses the situation with his colleagues in the hostel that evening and is told that the English department exists exclusively to dot the i’s and cross the t’s. He is restless because his heart is not in the job, and he is just sticking with it because he is paid a hundred rupees every month. He also has little regard for his colleagues. Krishna resolves to take matters into his own hands and goes for a morning walk. When he returns, he resolves to devote some time to poetry writing. He is certain that he will establish a name for himself in this field and become a famous poet one day, albeit he has yet to decide which language. His contribution will benefit English or Tamil. He resolves to put this plan into effect right away, before mugging up his teachings every morning, and to make his unwilling students mug up in order for them to do well in the exams.

Chapter -II

The second chapter deals with the story of setting up the house. He receives a letter from his father informing him that he should now start setting up his house with his wife and daughter and leave the college hostel. He goes out hunting for a house. When he finds one, he moves out of the hostel. His mother arrives with his wife and child and helps him in starting his own household. His mother, a stickler for a neat and clean and well-ordered household, trains Krishna’s wife Susila in all household matters and leaves after two months.

A period of domestic bliss starts. Susila waits for him every afternoon in the doorway every afternoon when he returns from college and serves him coffee and snacks. While she is busy preparing dinner, Krishna plays with the child and looks after her. His mother’s rigorous training has made Susila a responsible housewife. She is a “ruthless accountant” who keeps track of all the expenses. He finds that there is an autocratic strain in here, and unsuspected depths of rage when it comes to keeping accounts and managing their monthly provisions. This often leads to minor squabbles between the two. Susila is disturbed when Krishna’s mother sends an old woman from the village to help her in the kitchen so that she can devote more time to the child. An additional member in the house means more expenses and wastage, and Susila grumbles about it. But eventually, she accepts the old lady’s presence in the house. She is a firm believer in the adage that they must live within their means and save enough for the child. She has firmly decided to have just one child and does not like it when Krishna jokes about having more children. With the future in mind, she plans all their finances.

Susila encourages Krishna to write poetry but makes fun of him as he tries to reproduce Wordsworth’s lines, “She was a phantom of delight” to please and impress her since he cannot hit upon any subject to give vent to his poetic aspirations. She accuses him of copying and urges him to be original.

Their first serious quarrel is caused by Susila’s selling of Krishna’s old clock, which keeps irregular time and its alarm rings at all odd hours thus disturbing the sleeping child, as well as his old papers. Krishna shouts at her and she starts sobbing. They refuse to talk to each other for forty-eight hours. Both of them feel miserable about it. It is Krishna who eventually breaks the ice by taking her to a film. They decide not to quarrel in the future because, as Susila puts it, “They say such quarrels affect a child’s health.”

Chapter III

The third chapter deals with the story of their last day of happiness. Krishna is happy when, on the occasion of the child’s third birthday, his father offers him a loan to buy his own house in Malgudi. The couple starts discussing the sort of house they would like to buy as Krishna thinks it is too much of a bother to buy a plot of land and build a house on it. So on a Sunday morning after entrusting the child to the care of the old lady, they set out to inspect the various houses on offer in Lawley Extension through Krishna’s colleague Sastri, the logic teacher turned-builder. Susila looks resplendent in her favourite indigo saree. She looks indeed “a phantom of delight” to a bewitched Krishna. There is ‘a perpetual smile in her eyes’ and she exudes the fragrance of jasmine. Krishna decides to call her Jasmine hereafter and name their house Jasmine Home. But before going to Lawley Extension, Krishna takes her to Bombay Ananda Bhavan for breakfast. Then they take a detour to the river to wash her feet. They inspect several houses in Lawley Extension and finally select one as their future abode. As Krishna is discussing the price and other details with Sastri and the building contractor, Susila walks into a filthy lavatory in the back of the house and locks herself in. Krishna kicks open the door and when Susila comes out, she appears disturbed. The filth inside the lavatory has nauseated her and a fly has sat on her lips. But she temporarily feels better as they visit a nearby temple on their way back. Feeling uneasy, Susila lies down when they return home. She is unable to have her food as she recalls her experience of having been locked up inside the lavatory.

She remains confined to her bed for the next four days. But when she shows no signs of recovery, Krishna is worried. He decides to consult a doctor. Krishna goes to Dr Shankar of Krishna Medical Hall. Dr Shankar is the most successful medical practitioner in Malgudi and his clinic is always crowded with patients. There is a kind of red-tapism and mechanical nature of dispensing medicines in the clinic which Krishna doesn’t like. But he has no choice but to bear with it. The doctor prescribes some medicines for Susila but is too busy to visit her at home. But when these medicines have no effect, he visits Susila at home and tries to cheer her.

Initially, he diagnoses Susila’s illness as malaria but when her fever does not come down, he takes a sample of her blood and arrives at the conclusion that she is suffering from typhoid. Susila’s room is turned into a sick ward. Her concerned parents arrive and her father takes turns with Krishna to nurse Susila and keep a vigil on her condition at night. The child Leela is kept away from her mother. She is looked after by the old lady and Susila’s mother. When Susila’s condition does not improve, Dr Shankar has her examined by a visiting doctor from Madras. But it is too late now. Susila dies leaving behind a “blind, dumb and dazed” Krishna, her disconsolate parents and the child. She is cremated according to Hindu rites on the banks of the river beyond Nallappa’s Grove.
The short domestic idyll comes to an end.

Chapter IV

The fourth chapter talks about Krishna’s loneliness. The days acquire a peculiar blankness and emptiness for Krishna, the only relief being the sight of his child. He does not wish to part with her; he decides to bring her up himself, to which end he concentrates his whole being. His mother occasionally comes to stay with him to help him bring up the child. He loses whatever little interest he has in his college work. Despite well-meaning advice, he refuses to marry again. Krishna has disturbed sleep as his wife’s memories keep haunting him. He locks up her room, which is opened once a week for sweeping and cleaning. And he spends all his time looking after the child and listening to her prattle. He reads bedtime stories to her and this keeps him occupied.

Chapter V

The fifth chapter discusses how Krishna makes a medium to communicate with his dead wife. One day as he has finished his work in college, a boy comes to see him. He has been working for Krishna and he hands over a note from his father to Krishna. It contains a message from his dead wife whose spirit has been trying to communicate with and has at last found a medium through which she can get in touch with him. She has been watching over her husband and the child since her death.

Krishna accompanies the boy to his house a couple of miles away and meets a gruff and cheerful peasant who takes him to a pond, sitting there beside a temple, tells him about he has been chosen to act as the medium between Krishna and the spirit of his dead wife. He takes out a notebook and his pencil automatically moves over the papery trying to receive a message from Susila for her husband. After a false start, he succeeds. Susila tells him that she is quite happy in the other region and she wants him to be calm and relaxed in life; he should stop worrying about the child who is quite happy. Krishna is elated.

The medium asks him to come there every Wednesday in the afternoon to continue these sittings, which Krishna complies with. It is a rich experience – a glimpse of eternal peace for him. Gradually Susila’s spirit starts communicating with Krishna and advising him on his day-to-day affairs. For instance, she advises Krishna to put the child in school. Krishna finds out that the child has already been going to a nearby school for small children run by an eccentric looking headmaster who has devoted his life to this cause. He meets the man and is impressed by his dedication and devotion. Leela finds the school interesting and Krishna formally enrols her there one day. He goes about his work with a light heart. The sense of futility leaves him and he attends to his work earnestly.

He continues his Wednesday sittings with the medium although he is sometimes disappointed with the outcome. The overall effect on his mind is calm and relaxing. Susila’s spirit repeatedly asks him to look for her favourite ivory-sandalwood casket and the bundle of fourteen letters she had written to him, which he has not been able to destroy even though he has destroyed all her letters. But he cannot find them when he rummages through Susila’s belongings. But a look at her possessions brings back fond memories, particularly of the perfumes she was so fond of. At the next sitting, Susila asks Krishna about the perfume she is wearing. She is glad to be near him. She tells him that she has evolved spiritually since her death and is always at his side.

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She mentions the dress she is wearing at that time, the one he saw in her trunk and which he always liked. It is a pity, he cannot see her out she hopes that Krishna will be able to see her one day when his ‘sensibilities’ are improved. She still looks the same person as she was on earth but without any of her ailments when she was alive, she says. While going home that evening, Krishna plucks some jasmine buds and keeps them near his pillow at night. He can indeed feel her fragrance and presence in the room. He is now convinced that she is with him.

Chapter VI

The sixth chapter deals with the description of Leela’s school. Krishna decides to spend the next Sunday in his daughter’s company but she is getting to school early in the morning. Krishna learns that there are no Sundays in her school and decides to accompany her there. About twenty children are already there, running about and playing; the see-saws and the swings are in full use. Krishna is taken around his thatch-roofed room by the headmaster who shows him the handiwork of children in pictures, cardboard cut-outs and clay figures. He is trying a new experiment in education which, he believes, should aim at shaping the mind and character of students without undue emphasis on sports and games. For this, no fancy building or elaborate setup is required. Only a shed and a few mats are required in addition to open air.

Krishna then witnesses a story session that the headmaster invites the children to participate in. With the help of charts and pictures, the children follow the story of a bison, a tiger and a bear in Mempi Forests. As the story progresses, they take sides with the various characters and are thoroughly involved with the happenings in the story that the headmaster goes on improvising. At the end of the story, Leela wants a cat and the headmaster promises to get her one. For this, she will have to come to his house. Leela readily agrees. On way to the headmaster’s home, Krishna invites him to have dinner at his house. There the headmaster talks of reducing everything to simple basics as the children do; he considers them gods on earth. Krishna is impressed with this eccentric-looking man, tells him that he would have liked to remain a bachelor without encumbrances so that he could devote all his time to the cause of children’s education.

The headmaster lives in a neglected part of the town. It is full of dirt, dust and grime. His wife is a virago and his children are uncouth and wild. The wife starts quarrelling with her husband, unmindful of the presence of Krishna and the child. The cat that he promised Leela is nowhere to be found and the headmaster returns to Krishna’s hoi where he feels more relaxed and at peace with himself. As they go for a walk on the riverside, the headmaster tells Krishna how he has been forced into the marriage. He has left his parental home because he refused to take up a job after graduation and his wife still misses the comforts of that house. After his father’s death, his house is occupied by his stepmother and her children, and he refuses to get into litigation in order to get his legal rights. This is what worries his wife but he has not lost hope for her yet. We should not despair even for the worst on earth, he tells Krishna. He has been inspired to start his school because his teachers made him take a “wrong turn” in life. He is trying a new system of education in which the children are left alone to pursue their hobbies and interests; this will make them wholesome beings, and also help us, those who work along with them, to work off the curse of adulthood. And he wants to work towards his end which is very near. An astrologer has already worked out and told him the date and time of his death. Since the astrologer’s other predictions in his life have turned out to be true, the headmaster is convinced that this will also be true. That’s why he is so patient with his wife, he tells Krishna.

Chapter VII

The seventh chapter discusses about the direct communication with Krishna’s wife. Krishna’s sittings with the medium are disrupted for a week because the man is either ill or away on some work. Krishna is desolate. Then they try sittings in absentia at fixed times and the medium conveys it through letters to Krishna. Eventually, he succeeds indirectly communicating with Susila’s spirit at the dead of the night. This gives “inexplicable satisfaction” to both of them. Susila assures him that she is happy and she wants Krishna to be happy, calm and relaxed for her sake. She assures him that she is always with him and is watching his every move and activity.

One night the headmaster comes as Krishna is getting ready to communicate with his wife. He says that his end has come, as predicted by the astrologer and he wants Krishna to take charge of his school. His life has gone on strictly as predicted by the astrologer and he may not see the sunrise. Krishna finds him the strangest man he has ever come across – one who is looking forward to his own death as if he were going to the next street. The next morning Krishna goes to the headmaster’s house to inform her of her husband’s ‘death’. She starts wailing loudly and people crowd around her. Just then, the headmaster appears. His wife and children cling to his feet. But he sees this as a new life for him. He is glad that the astrologer’s prediction has gone wrong because he is meant for better things in life. He gives up his family life and detaches himself from his wife and children. He fixes a monthly allowance for them but breaks all ties with them. He stays on the school premises and is happy in the company of small children.

Krishna’s mother comes to visit him and the child. She brings a gold chain for Leela. As she takes it out to put it around the child’s neck, Krishna notices that she takes it out of the ivory sandalwood box that Susila has mentioned. He takes the box and measures it. It has more or less the same specifications as mentioned by Susila’s spirit. But he fails to unearth the bundle of fourteen letters that she has talked of while communicating with him and his father-in-law is of no help in this matter. Leela goes with her grandmother to the village. She is happy in the company of other children and a teacher comes every day to teach her. Krishna visits her on the weekends and gradually comes to accept the loneliness of his own existence. He is happy that his child is being looked after and educated. She has also been well provided for by both her grandfathers. So he has nothing much to worry about in life.

Chapter VIII

The last chapter concludes the entire novel with the resignation of Krishna. Since he is at peace with himself now, Krishna makes up his mind to give up his job at Albert Mission College. It is monotonous, dull and dreary even though it gives him a regular Income of a hundred rupees per month. The Principal asks him to reconsider his decision but Krishna is determined. He is given a farewell at everyone calls him “an uncompromising idealist” at the function held in his honour. But Krishna tells them that he is no idealist; he is going to do what he likes to do: devote his time and energies to the education of small children in the headmaster’s school at a paltry salary of twenty-five rupees a month. Krishna is now calm and relaxed as he has direct communion with the spirit of his dead wife at night. He is at peace with himself at last.

Read Also:

1. The English Teacher as an Autobiographical Novel.

2. The Elements of Humour and Pathos

3. Major Characters of the Novel

The Theme of Love

The English Teacher, dedicated to R.K. Narayan’s wife Rajam, is not only autobiographical but also poignant in its intensity of feeling. The tragic love story is a series of experiences in the life of Krishna, an English teacher, and his quest towards achieving inner peace and self-development after the untimely death of his wife Susila. For several years Krishna has enjoyed a bachelor’s life, but this changes when his wife Susila and their child Leela move in with him. Krishna’s life expands to include the happy domesticity of living with his child and wife: nearly half the novel focuses on the mundane joy of his day-to-day experiences with his family. However, one-day Susila contracts typhoid after visiting a dirty lavatory and dies from the illness.

Krishna is devastated by her loss but receives a letter from a stranger indicating that Susila has been in contact with him and wishes to communicate with Krishna. This leads to Krishna’s journey for self-enlightenment, with the stranger acting as a medium to Susila in the spiritual world and eventually learning to communicate with her on his own, thus concluding the entire story itself, with the quote that he felt a moment of rare, immutable joy – a moment for which one feels grateful to Life and Death.

Krishna thus undertakes an emotional, intellectual and spiritual journey to come to terms with the irreparable loss. The English Teacher is the tale of love; the saga of loving someone so dearly. It is exclusively a love story but interestingly different from the love stories one reads. By a love story traditionally we mean the love before marriage which consequently ends, or may not end in marriage. But here we have the love story which starts when Krishna is already a married man and Susila already a mother. There is not much physical passion in the Krishna-Susila relationship. Nor is there much romance in it. They have decided not to have any more children and when Krishna talks about it, Susila covers his mouth and asks him: Where is your promise?… I often reiterated and confirmed our solemn pact that Leela should be our only child. Krishna sometimes becomes romantic, for instance when he is going with his wife in search of a house. But Susila asks him to control himself because they are walking in a public place. Their love is fresh because it is not staled by familiarity. There is always the first flush of love in their short-lived companionship. Susila does not express her love openly but she is frank, open-hearted and sprightly behaviour when she says: Why can’t each keep his or her own heart instead of this exchange? She then put out her hand and searched my pockets ‘in case you have taken away mine. Her love for Krishna is expressed by the tears she sheds when he loses her temper after learning that she has sold his old alarm clock as well as useless papers. They do not talk for forty-eight hours, each of them sulking separately. But when Krishna makes the first move towards making up, she immediately agrees. They decide not to have any more arguments, since as Susila says that such quarrels can affect the child. On his part, Krishna is concerned about his wife. This is evident from his anxiety when he paces up and down the Malgudi railway station awaiting her arrival. He pays the coolie thrice his portage so that he may take precautions in unloading her luggage from the train which stops there for only seven minutes. He worries unnecessarily and ceaselessly about her as Narayan depicts: Suppose fifteen days hence I was still in this state and they arrived and had nowhere to go outside the railway station! This vision was a nightmare to me. When she likes the coloured marble tiles in Bombay Ananda Bhavan, he offers to have them on the walls of their own house even though he knows that they are normally used in bathrooms. When he becomes rich and famous through writing poetry, he plans to take h. on a trip to Europe. And when she falls ill, he keeps nightly vigil at her bedside to see that she is not uncomfortable and that she sleeps peacefully.

He leaves no stone unturned to treat her but, alas, all his efforts come to nought when she dies. Krishna is distraught. He feels dumb, blind, and dazed. He is so miserable that he loses all interest in life. Only the thought of the child keeps him away from committing suicide. But the story does not end there. Indeed we are just halfway through. Death is not, need not be, the end of life.

Contracts can be established beyond the funeral pyre with a little patience. Krishna is rejuvenated when a stranger offers to act as the medium between him and his wife’s spirit. When he can do so, first through the medium and later on his own, he feels reassured when the medium informs him: The lady wants to say that she is deeply devoted to her husband and the child and family as ever. Ultimately she comes and sits on Krishna’s bed, looking at him with her bewitching smile, and tells him: Yes, I’m here, I have always been here. Krishna’s zest for life is renewed and he goes about his work. His “sensibilities” are improved through contact with his dead wife’s spirit which urges him to be cheerful and relaxed. Eventually, to satisfy his inner urge, Krishna gives up his well-paid college job. Further, at a quarter of the salary that he was getting in a college, he joins the headmaster’s school for small children. Finally, he comes to terms with life when his daughter Leela leaves for the village with her grandmother and he realises the fact of life. The headmaster’s company gives him solace. After his near-death experience, the headmaster has distanced himself from his wife and children. This has a profound impact on Krishna who, besides enjoying his newfound vocation now, is at peace with himself in the company of Susila’s spirit. It is a moment of rare, immutable joy – a moment for which one feels grateful to “Life and Death”. This is how his love story culminates in a strange, happy ending. Narayan obviously believes that nothing is impossible for true love. The novel, for all the searing tragedy of the death of Susila, ends on a note of fulfilment. Narayan has effectively put the element of love in the present novel.

Thus, the present novel The English Teacher is an autobiographical and most acclaimed novel of Narayan. In this novel, he has effectively and artistically inserted all the literary elements like love theme, autobiographical elements, humour, pathos, irony, tragedy etc. Krishna is an immortal character of the novel. Through the characters, he expresses his views on education and the philosophy of life.

Questions and Answers – Quiz Type

1. Whose books did Krishna read for the fiftieth time?
Ans: Milton, Carlyle and Shakespeare.
2. Where did Krishna work?
Ans: He worked in Albert Mission College.
3. What was the salary paid to Krishna?
Ans: One hundred rupees per month.
4. Who was the principal (head) of Albert Mission College?
Ans: Mr Brown.
5. Who was the assistant professor of English?
Ans: Gajapathy.
6. Who spoke on the importance of English and the need for preserving its purity?
Ans: Mr Brown.
7. Name two colleagues of Krishna?
Ans: Rangappa, Gajapati, Gopal.
8. Who was as sharp as a knife in Mathematics?
Ans: Gopal.
9. What did the English department solely exist for?
Ans: For dotting the – i’s and crossing the – t’s.
10. What does ‘raining cat and dogs mean’?
Ans: Strong wind, heavy and hard rain.
11. Who was the ever questioning philosopher?
Ans: Rangappa.
12. Why did Krishna want to be up very early the next day?
Ans: To see the sunrise and get some exercise before work.
13. Where had Krishna brought the alarm clock from?
Ans: Junk store in Madras.
14. When did the alarm clock stop shrieking?
Ans: When a heavy book like ‘Taine’s History of English Literature’ was placed on
its crest.
15. What was in heaps on Krishnan’s table?
Ans: Books from libraries and friends, untouched and unanswered letters.
16. Who was Singaram?
Ans: Hostel servant of 80 years
17. Which bath is a real bath for a real man according to singaram?
Ans: River bath.
18. Which poem did Krishna write and how many lines?
Ans: Nature, Fifty lines.
19. What takes up most of the teachers’ hours?
Ans: Attendance.
20. Which is the vital portion of the great tragedy King Lear?
Ans: Lear facing the storm.
21. Which hour is a sort of relaxation for teachers?
Ans: The Composition hour.
22. Who had written two pages about a poem without understanding it?
Ans: Ramaswami.
23. Which epigram Krishnan set for essay writing?
Ans: “Man is the master of his own destiny”?
24. Who read the four day old newspaper?
Ans: Logic lecturer Sastri.
25. Who was the assistant professor of philosophy?
Ans: Dr Menon.
26. Where had Dr Menon obtained his Ph.D?
Ans: Columbia University.
27. Who said the “American spelling is foolish buffoonery”?
Ans: Gajapathy.
28. Where did Krishna’s brother work?
Ans: He worked in Hyderabad as an auditor.
29. Who led her husband by nose?
Ans: Krishna’s brother’s wife.
30. Who underlined the ‘town’ three times while writing a letter?
Ans: Susila.
31. Who was fastidious and precise in handling the English language?
Ans: Krishna’s father.
32. Who was the B.A. of the olden days?
Ans: Krishna’s father.
33. Which bathrooms are like hell on the earth?
Ans: Hostel bathrooms.
34. Who was an assistant professor in the Economics Department?
Ans: Subharam.
35. What was a grand affair for Krishna’s mother?
Ans: Housekeeping.
36. How did Susila spend her time before marriage?
Ans: Reading, knitting, embroidering or looking after a garden.
37. Whom did Krishna’s mother hates heartily?
Ans: Her eldest daughter-in-law.
38. Who said ‘I shall never accept a girl from High Court Judge’s family’?
Ans: Krishna’s mother.
39. Which was a wonderful place for Krishna?
Ans: Kavadi.
40. Who were the eminent professors of the Madras College?
Ans: Dr William Miller, Mark Hunter
41. What amount of rent Krishna had to pay for the house?
Ans: Twenty five on the fifth of every month.
42. Why should be jasmine bush grown in a boys’ hostel?
Ans:  To remind that there are better things in the world.
43. Why did Krishna want a house facing south?
Ans: It keeps the western sun out and gets eastern in and admits northern light.
44. What are the conditions that are looked for in residential locality?
Ans: Cheap houses, refined surroundings, near to the market and the office.
45. Who revered the college teachers?
Ans: The old man.
46. Who said, “Susila is a modest girl, she is not obstinate”?
Ans: Krishna’s mother.
47. Who disliked the extravagance of travelling second class?
Ans: Krishna’s father-in-law.
48. Which was the best shop in the town?
Ans: The National Provision Stores (N.P.S).
49. Who never understand the importance of travelling alone?
Ans: Women.
50. Who says man or woman is not born merely to cook and eat?
Ans: Krishna.
51. Who was the cash-keeper in Krishna’s house?
Ans: His wife Susila.
52. In whose hand a hundred rupees seemed to do the work of two hundred rupees.
Ans: Susila.
53. Who is ‘Kamu’ in the novel?
Ans: Krishna’s mother.
54. What salary was fixed for the old lady?
Ans: Six rupees per month.
55. What did Krishna fancy?
Ans: He was born for a poetic career and someday he hoped to take the world by storm with the publication.
56. Who jostled each other in a struggle for existence?
Ans: Milton, Shakespeare, Bradley
57. What did Susila read without Krishna’s help?
Ans: The Tamil classics and Sanskrit texts.
58. Who was a ‘Phantom of Delight’ for Krishna?
Ans: Susila
59. What price Susila got for the old clock?
Ans: Twelve annas.
60. According to Sushila what affects a child’s health?
Ans: Husband and wife quarrelling.
61. Who advanced money to Krishna to buy a new house?
Ans: His father.
62. Where did Krishna and his wife go to choose a house?
Ans: To Lawley Extension.
63. How do the soul and body laugh?
Ans: The soul laughs through the eyes and body laughs with lips.
64. Where did Krishna and Susila take their morning tiffin?
Ans: The Bombay Anand Bhavan.
65. Name the boy who serves Tiffin to Krishna and Susila?
Ans: Mani, a youngster from Malabar.
66. Who had promised Krishna in choosing the house?
Ans: Sastri, of the logic section.
67. What did Krishna call his wife?
Ans: Jasmine.
68. Who blamed Krishna for living in a rented house?
Ans: Sushila’s mother.
69. Who was the moving spirit of the new Lawley Extension?
Ans: Dr Sastri of the logic section.
70. Who was the secretary of the Building and Acquisition Society?
Ans: Dr Sastri of the logic section
71. What name Krishna loved to give to the new home?
Ans: Jasmine Home
72. What did the God Srinivas grant the visitors?
Ans:  He granted all theirs boons and blessed all their efforts.
73. Who never heard of buttermilk being given for fever?
Ans: The old woman in Krishna’s house.
74. Who wrote encouraging letters to Krishna during Susila’s illness?
Ans: His brother in Hyderabad, his sister at Vellore and the other sister at Delhi.
75. Who try to starve patients to death?
Ans: The English doctors.
76. Who was convinced that an Evil Eye had fallen on her daughter?
Ans: Susila’s mother.
77. What does the exorcist do to bring down the fever of Susila?
Ans: He feels her pulse, utters some mantras with closed eyes, takes a pinch of sacred ash and rubs it on Susila’s forehead. He ties her arm a talisman strung in yellow thread.  
78. Why did Susila not like the doctors?
Ans: They pressed the stomach, and here and there.
79. Who, according to Rangappa, was the greatest physician on the earth?
Ans: Dr Shankar of the Krishna Medical Hall.
80. Which is the most erratic and temperamental disease on the earth?
Ans: Malaria.
81. Which ailment is the king among the fevers?
Ans: Typhoid.
82. Who said,” Never trust these English doctors”?
Ans: The contractor.
83. Where did Krishna’s mother live?
Ans: Kamalapuram.
84. Why was Krishna to take Fourth-hour class?
Ans: Because George of the language class was absent.
85. What was one aim in Krishna’s life after Susila’s death?
Ans: To see that Leela did not feel the absence of her mother.
86. What seemed to be the greatest task for Krishna in life after Susila’s death?
Ans: Living without illusions.
87. What was the most welcome sound into the pandemonium-like class?
Ans: The college bell.
88. Who brings a letter to Krishna?
Ans: The village boy of fifteen years.
89. Why should we first wash and then read stories?
Ans: We must never touch goddess Saraswati without washing.
90. Who built the goddess ‘Yak Matha’ temple by mere chanting?
Ans: Sankara.
91. Through whom Susila communicated with Krishna?
Ans: The Farmer
92. Who have been working to bridge the gulf between life and the afterlife?
Ans: A band or group of spirits.
93. Who said children must not eat more than two sweets at a time?
Ans: Krishna.
94. How many skirts and shirts Leela had?
Ans: Over forty.
95. What did Susila urge Krishna on to look for at every sitting?
Ans:  Her sandalwood casket and the fourteen letters.
96. Why did the spirits need no exercise?
Ans: Because they have no physical bodies.
97. What transports us directly?
Ans: Music
98. What was the evidence of Susila’s visit to Krishna’s room after her death?
Ans: Taking away the scent from the ten jasmine buds.
99. What had Leela made on her first-day visit to the college?
Ans: A green paper boat.
100. Who brings in a shield or cup?
Ans: The eleven stalwart idiots.
101. What is the main business of an educational institution?
Ans: To shape the mind and character 102. Who are made to pass the examinations?
Ans: The sportsmen.
103. What was the name of the tiger in the Headmaster’s story?
Ans: Raja.
104. Who never used a towel for the bath?
Ans: The Headmaster.
105. Where was the house of the Headmaster?
Ans: In Anderson Lane.
106. What had Malagudi earned notoriety for?
Ans: Its municipal affairs.
107. Who was Anderson?
Ans: Some gentleman of the East India Company.
108. What had children taught to the Headmaster?
Ans: To speak plainly, without the varnish of the adult world.
109. Which was the dullest work read in the English language by Krishna?
Ans: Criticism of the Elizabethan dramatists, Beaumont and Fletcher.
110. Whose company is unfit for children?
Ans: Adults’ company.
111. Which problem is crushing us all the time?
Ans: The problem of living and dying.
112. Who is a nice fellow to have around never fallen back?
Ans: A dog.
113. How does Leela look?
Ans: Like a miniature version of Susila
114. Which story does the Headmaster narrate to the children in front of Krishna?
Ans: The story of a ‘Bison and a Tiger’.
115. Who preferred poison to brinjal?
Ans: The Headmaster.
116. What seemed real work to Krishna?
Ans: Something which satisfied his innermost aspirations.
117. What is necessary for complete communion?
Ans: A degree of concentration and psychic development.
118. What did the Honours boy say about Krishna on the occasion of send off to Krishna?
Ans: Our country needs more men like our beloved teacher who is going out today.
119. Who said ‘I mug up and repeat and they mug up and repeat in the examination?
Ans: Krishna.
120. What did young minds need according to Krishna?
Ans: They need lessons in the fullest use of the mind.
121. What do children need above all else?
Ans: The warmth of mother’s touch.
122. What did the Headmaster give to his wife and children?
Ans: Monthly allowance for their upkeep.

Chapter – IV

1. Why Krishna’s mother didn’t stay with him after Sushila’s death?
Ans. Krishna father was not well. He was unable to manage the things alone so she went back to the village.
2. What is the name of Krishna’s village? Ans.Kamalapuram.
3. What are the instructions given by the mother to Krishna before going to the village?
Ans. She told him to take care of Leela properly and advised to give an oil bath to Leela on every Friday.
4. What is the name of Krishna’s mother?
Ans. Kamala
5. What was the advice given by a lady at bus stop to Krishna?
Ans. She said a man must marry within fifteen days of losing his wife. Otherwise, he will be ruined. Even she told she is the fourth wife to his husband.
6. Why Krishna didn’t change the house after his wife’s death?
Ans. Krishna has connected himself with the memories of Sushila. So he didn’t change the house.
7. How did Krishna convince Leela about the closed door of her mother room?
Ans. Leela asked why the room was closed, for that Krishna told her she was taking a rest or taking bath. She used to ask her father why you are not looking after her. For that he told the nurse is looking after her. Finally, Leela came to know that her mother is not inside at that he told her she has been taken to the hospital for treatment.
8. How did Krishna used to tell stories to Leela?
Ans. Krishna used to connect all the names in the book and manage to make a story. But every time it’s a different one. Which is usually caught by Leela and she tells you are telling the wrong story.

Chapter V

1. Which class Krishna didn’t want to take?
Ans. Krishna didn’t like to take the class History of English Language.
2. How did Krishna finish the language class?
Ans. He sent a boy to bring a book from the library. He started reading the essay. He didn’t bother whether students are listening to him or not, just went on reading. He was eagerly waiting for the college bell sound.
3. What is the content of the letter brought by a boy to Krishna?
Ans. The letter had the message from Krishna’s dead wife Sushila. She wanted to communicate with her husband and she has chosen a man as the medium to communicate.
4. Who was medium?
Ans. He was a middle-aged farmer with a chubby and cheerful look.
5. How was the house of the mediator?
Ans. It’s like a green heaven, full of trees, shrubs and orchards. There was a lotus pond and on its bank, there was a temple of goddess Sankara.
6. How the farmer has become medium?
Ans. Once he has gone out for a walk as he daily he goes. At that time he had a strong sense to bring paper and pencil with him. The next day he carried. He thought he will write poetry.
But he sat near the shrine in the temple he started writing. He doesn’t know what he has written. After he saw that it was addressed to Krishna.
7 Which day is selected to communicate with spirit?
Ans. Wednesday
8. How do the climates change at the time of arrival of spirit?
Ans. They come at the time of dusk. The casuarinas tree hushed the sound of Ripples. The bright star appeared in the sky. There was eternal peace.
9. What happened in the first meet of communication?
Ans. In the first meet, Sushila was unable to communicate. Other groups of spirit communicated on the behalf of Sushila

10. Why Krishna didn’t believe completely in the existence of his wife as a spirit?
Ans. Because she told her daughter name as Radar
11. Which language did Sushila’s spirit use for communication?
Ans. Tamil
12. What did Sushila remind Krishna to search for?
Ans. Sushila told Krishna to search for a sandalwood casket or ivory box and fourteen letters.
13. What did Sushila tell about Leela?
Ans. She tells Krishna not to worry too much about Leela. She is perfectly happy and spends her time playing with her friend. Old lady takes care of her. Leela comes to door to look for her father only at the evening. Also, tell that Leela is going to school.
14. What did Leela tell about the school?
Ans. She told she likes the school very much. She had made clay of brinjal. And told she has made friends in the school.
15. Where did Sushila bring skirts to Leela on her birthday?
Ans. Bombay Cloth Emporium.
16. How is Leela’s school?
Ans. Its wall is full of alphabets and pictures drawn by the students. There are no proper classrooms. The ground is full of seesaws, swings, heap of sands and a ladder. There was a garden made by students and they are playing and enjoying. Krishna felt that is meaning of the word joy in its purest sense
17. How was headmaster?
Ans.He is a different man. He doesn’t like to take a rest even on Sunday. He has not taken holiday for ten to fifteen years.
18. Why Krishna was disappointed with communication with spirit. ?
Ans. Because she was not telling the things properly. She didn’t tell what happened in the house.
19. Who has sent scent to Sushila from Rangoon?
Ans. Her sister
20. How do spirits spend their time?
Ans. They don’t have a physical body. They spend most of their time in mediation. They give much importance to music. They believe music can directly transport their feelings. They can wear whatever they want just by wishing them.
21. What is the idea given by Sushila to test her presence?
Ans. She told Krishna to keep about ten jasmine flowers near to pillow and she will take the scent of those flowers
22. When did Krishna feel Sushila’a presence for the first time?
Ans. Krishna was returning from the house of a mediator. He was passing through Nallappa Grove at the graveyard. At that, he felt he is not alone. Someone else is walking with him.


1. What did students do on Sunday in Leela’s school?
Ans.On that day the students just play, sing and hear stories. That day they don’t study.
2. How was Headmaster’s room?
Ans. It was thatch-roofed. Its floor was covered with clay. The walls were of bamboo filled with mud. Room was full of cardboard houses, paper flowers, drawings and trophies of the school.
3. What was the first work done by Leela in school?
Ans. Leela has made green paper boat in the school.
4. What is the true principle of education according to Headmaster?
Ans. The main business of education is to shape the mind and character.
5. What is Headmaster’s opinion about sports?
Ans. Headmaster didn’t like giving much importance to game. He it has its own value but he didn’t like treating sports as worship and treating player as stars. He didn’t like the liberty given to those students such as giving party and made them to pass the examination.
6. How was the story told by Headmaster?
Ans. Headmaster told the story in a very lively way. The story didn’t remain in the book. It comes into reality. He makes all the students involved in the story.
7. Which story did Headmaster tell to students?
Ans. He told the story of a tiger whose name is Raja and his friend buffalo whose name is Bison.
8. What are the habits of Headmaster?
Ans. He used to have a bath before lunch. He didn’t use towel after the bath. He usually prays and meditate for fifteen minutes before lunch. He always sits on the floor. He didn’t eat brinjals.
9. How was Anderson Lane?
Ans.It was the dirtiest place. It was never cleaned by the municipality. It is cleaned by rain only rainy season. It was full of scraps, garbage, egg shells and other left out things.
10. How was Malagudi municipality?
Ans. It was known for its notoriousness. It’s in the hands of management with the council, president and vice president. They meet last Saturday of every month but every meeting ends up with a dispute.
11. How was Headmaster house?
Ans. It was not clear and tidy, full of old furniture. There was a Japanese mat in the hall.
12. How was headmaster family?
Ans. His wife is about 35 years old. Very arrogant lady didn’t answer anything directly and didn’t care for others. Headmaster had 3 sons between ages of 7 to 10. They are also untidy and didn’t care for father.
13. Why Krishana and Leela went to the Headmaster house?
Ans. To bring a kitten or cat.


1. Why Krishna was unable to communicate with Sushila’s spirit?
A. Because the mediator has gone to Trichinopoly on urgent business.
2. What was the advice given by Brown to improve the results of final year student?
A.  To take special classes for them
3. Why did Krishna scold the student in the class?
A. Krishna was upset because he was unable to communicate with Sushila at that he has engaged class unwillingly at that a student asked a question so he got angry.
4. What was the suggestion given by the mediator to Krishna by letter?
A. Mediator wrote a letter to Krishna by telling he connect himself with the communication. He suggested Krishna experiment that on Sunday at 4 O’clock at the evening.
5. What was the suggestion given by the Sushila spirit to Krishna?
A. It suggested him try to communicate with spirit directly and advised him to keep body and mind in perfect condition.
6. Why did the Headmaster come to Krishna at night?
A. He came to told Krishna that he is going to die on that day. Therefore he requested Krishna to take the responsibility of his school.
7. Who told the Headmaster about his death?
A. An astrologer who was not a professional predictor but a hermit.
8. Why Headmaster wife was unhappy with him?
A. She wanted her husband to claim their property in the Lawaly extension. But Headmaster was not interested in the property so she was unhappy with him.
9. What kind life was led by Headmaster when he didn’t die?
A. Krishna took him back to home forcibly. There Headmaster announced that he is entering into Sanyas Ashram and said that he will give a monthly allowance to his family. He said his wife and children to not consider him as husband and father. He started living in school happily.
10. How did Krishna find the sandalwood box mentioned by Sushila?
A. Krishna’s mother has come to meet them at that she has brought a gold chain for Leela. She has kept that gold chain in that sandalwood box
11. Why Krishna felt Leela needs motherly care?
A. Krishna used to take care of his daughter properly. But she was very happy with her grandmother. She has become more charming and beautiful in her nursing. She is always attached with her granny. This made him to think that she needs motherly care.
12. What was the content of letters to Krishna?
A. Krishna received letters from his father and daughter. Both convey that Leela was very happy in the village. I wished to see her. He has to village.

Chapter VIII

1. Why Krishna wanted to resign from his job?
A. Krishna was against the system of education and methods of approach. He was not interested in teaching the history of languages, literature other analyses of critical theories. He felt is other’s culture and feeling them in the mind our students is like felling their mind with garbage. Moreover it make the students stranger to our own culture. So he decided to resign.
2. What is Krishna’s opinion about literature?
A. According to Krishna, every person is sensible to literature. Shakespeare’s sonnets, Ode to West Wind and line like ‘ a thing of beauty is a joy forever ‘ always delight the mind.
3. How was Krishna’s resignation letter for the first time?
A. His first resignation letter runs for pages. It was like an article on the Problems of Higher Education.
4. What Krishna wrote in the resignation letter for the second time?
A. For the second time, Krishna wrote just lines and told that he was resigning from the job for personal reasons.
5. How much time did Brown give Krishna to rethink over his decision?
A. One week time.
6. How was the send-off party?
A. The send-off party was very grand. It was full of luxuries. Both students and teachers gathered there. They all talked appreciative words for him and told they need more and more good teachers like him.
7. Why suddenly Krishna has become a hero?
A. Krishna has become a hero suddenly because he has left his job 100 Rs per month and joined the job of 25Rs just because it gives him satisfaction. It has made him a respectful person and inspiring personality.
8. What happened at the night of the send-off party?
A. In the college, Krishan was honoured with a jasmine garland. He brought it home and was thinking of Sushila. That day his mind was free from thoughts. At that time Sushila appeared to him talked to him till the dawn.

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