A Wrong Man in Workers’ Paradise

About the Author

Rabindranath Tagore was a Bengali poet, philosopher, artist, playwright, musician, and writer who lived from 1861 to 1941. Tagore, India’s first Nobel laureate, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913 for his major work “Gitanjali,” which was published in 1913. He wrote the lyrics for both India’s and Bangladesh’s national anthems, which were both written by him. His corpus of work is characterised by a strong sympathy for the underprivileged and a commitment to universal humanistic values. As a visionary educationist, he established the experimental school, which he named “Shantiniketan,” and was bestowed with the title “Gurudev” by Mahatma Gandhi, who referred to him as “Gurudev.” Tagore, on the other hand, was the representative of India’s spiritual tradition in the western world. He was a major living institution in India, and he passed away recently.

Summary of  A Wrong Man in Workers’ Paradise

This is a highly interesting and engaging short storey written by Rabindranath Tagore, the Nobel laureate.The author begins by presenting the protagonist as a man who has never been satisfied with ordinary function. He was a man who had no useful work and hence indulged in irrational whims and desires such as building sculptures, tiny clay objects studded with seashells, and painting. Everyone else laughs at him for his silly behaviour. He was the type of kid who never plies his studies but nonetheless passes his exams. He wishes he could put a stop to all such irrational whims, but he is powerless due to his demeanour.

Everyone believes that he will not be able to break these behaviours any time soon. He dies there. Nonetheless, a narrative twist arises when the aerial messenger makes a mistake. The messenger transports this indolent man to a paradise teeming with labour. It had been “Workers’ Paradise,” where everyone is preoccupied with working, working, and nothing else. The residents of the paradise are so pleased with the quantity of labour they accomplish every day that they thank God for providing them with such a massive workload on a daily basis.

Everyone rushes to work in the workers’ paradise, reciting lines such as “Hurry! Time is flying” and “Time is precious.” They are as cheerful as a clam, despite the fact that they sigh. The sight of labour will no longer impact man, who is unsuitable for heaven. He wanders aimlessly through the streets, jostled by men in a rush. When he was lying on the verdant fields, busy farmers would call him out.

There, the man notices a girl who rushes every day towards the silent torrent to fill her pitchers with water. Her actions on the road like the quick movement of a dead hand on the strings of a guitar. Her hair is haphazardly styled, with only a few strands on her brow. Her attention is drawn to the unemployed man. She feels sorry for him because he did not have any work to do, just like a princess who feels sorry for beggars. She asks him if she can help him in any way, full of sympathies. She offers him a job. In response, the man claims he does not have time to work, but he might be able to do something for the girl. He asks her if he can use her pitcher. The girl then asks if he can fill it up with water. He responds, addressing her as the girl-of-the-silent-torrent, by saying he will draw some images on the pitcher. She is offended by the response. Drawing images and painting were useless to her. In frustration, he exits without complying.

The unemployed man requests the girl again the following day and in the days ahead. She reluctantly hands him one of her pitchers. He paints the pitcher after drawing some random lines on it. Despite the fact that the pitcher is lovely, the girl had no idea what the figures on the pitcher meant. She asks him, helpless, what it means. “A picture may have no meaning and may serve no purpose,” the man responds, jokingly.

The girl leaves with the pitcher and is unable to sleep through the night. She gets out of bed and attempts to figure out what the picture means. The next morning, she feels sluggish and bewildered. As she approaches the man, she inquires as to what he genuinely desired from her. To which the man responds that he wants to lighten her load and take some of her work. For her, he makes a magnificent ribbon with shining hues. The girl now spends a lot of time in front of the mirror, getting ready. Her work suffers as a result. This illness gradually spreads throughout the entire paradise. People are arriving late for work. They practised painting and other pointless tasks. The issue causes the elders to get concerned. Then the aerial messenger arrives and apologises for putting the wrong man in Workers’ Paradise.

The elder summons the man and orders him to leave the paradise immediately. He breathes contentedly and prepares to depart. Unexpectedly, the girl appears and expresses her desire to depart with him. All of the people of paradise are taken aback, as nothing like this has ever happened before.

Analysis of  A Wrong Man in Workers’ Paradise

The author begins by presenting the protagonist as a man who has never been satisfied with ordinary function. He was unemployed and hence indulged in irrational whims and desires. He painted and sculpted small figures of men, women, and castles and ended up spending his time on all sorts of pointless and unnecessary things. As a result, he was mocked and laughed at. He spent his time on earth performing pointless tasks.

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However, fate and destiny (“moving finger”) mistakenly inscribed his permanent residence as paradise upon his earthly demise. Just like students who study infrequently pass exams, this man finds up in paradise having accomplished nothing beneficial or productive in his life. Heaven’s gates swung wide for him, and he was ushered into “Workers’ Paradise.” However, the newcomer did not fit in well with the Workers’ Paradise ambiance. He lounged aimlessly in the streets and was jostled by hurried folks who were content to be occupied. He slept in lush fields or near a swiftly flowing brook. Every day, a girl went hustling-bustling to a silent torrent (silent because even a torrent in the Workers’ Paradise would not spend its energy singing) to fill her pitchers. Her actions resembled those of a deft touch on the strings of a guitar. She appeared to be in a constant rush to complete her unfinished responsibilities. The girl of the silent river believed that idleness was a sin and that one ought to be constantly occupied doing something.

After observing the calm man doing nothing productive and squandering his valuable time, the girl feels sorrow for him and inquires about his job. He informs her that he does not have a moment to spare due to work, while the girl, to her surprise, does not have a moment to spare due to work. The girl, who had never comprehended what he said, was quick to respond that she would gladly spare some labour for him if he desired, to which he cheerfully says that he had been waiting there solely to rob her of work. When she inquires about his choice of job, he wants one of her spare pitchers. She inquired as to whether the objective was to take water from the torrent or for some other reason and is amused by his response, in which he expresses a desire to create pictures on her pitcher. She concludes by stating that she does not have time to squander on such frivolous pursuits. The girl was adamant in her refusal to comply with the man’s request for her pitcher. However, the man persevere and eventually prevails over the busy person. When he offers the pitcher to her, the girl is taken aback by the vibrant images on it and inquires as to the purpose of those vibrant lines. The man chuckles and explains that a photograph is never meaningful or serves any function. Within the confines of her house, away from prying eyes, she analyses the painting from every angle and is taken aback by its beauty, despite the fact that it served no purpose or meaning. She was mesmerised by the man’s ability to paint and saw newer possibilities open up in front of her.

From that day forward, the hastening girl never hurried again, since she began having meaningless or purposeless thoughts. She was drawn to art and attempting to realign her priorities. The meaningless was gradually taking on a life of its own. The man requests additional work the next time, and this time he agrees to weave a random coloured ribbon for her hair. When the wrong man volunteered to make ribbons for her, the girl was intrigued as to why he would make a hair ribbon. However, as he supplied the coloured ribbons, she began spending an inordinate amount of time tying the ribbon around her hair, and a new sense of excitement arose in her head. Much of her routine work remained incomplete. Work in paradise began to deteriorate as a result of many people who had previously been active now engaging in frivolous activities such as painting sculptures and squandering their valuable time. The frightened elders convened a meeting to discuss how this unprecedented phenomena was transforming the populace into idlers. It is at this point that the airborne messengers emerge and admit their error in bringing the incorrect man to the worker’s paradise. The idler-man is summoned and requested to leave the area immediately, much to his relief. The girl instantly agrees to accompany the wrong man, which causes the elders to gasp in surprise, as this has never happened before – a phenomenon with no meaning or purpose at all.

The sentence “the man never believed in mere utility” implies that he never believed he should accomplish anything solely for the sake of being useful and productive. He was of the opinion that something should not be done unless it is deemed valuable and useful. Under the influence of the man who was an artist, the girl who knew and believed only in work and utility became a completely altered person. She was willing to abandon her job and home in order to pursue the man who had such an effect on her. At the conclusion of the storey, the girl’s outlook about life undergoes a complete transformation. The idler deserves praise for his dedication to his work as an artist. He cherished his talent above all else. Even after settling in a place where everyone was busy and no one cared about his art, he refused to give up. Occasionally, despite our numerous capabilities, we fail to recognise and foster them. However, in this situation, the man was effective in not only perceiving it from within, but also in affecting the girl of the quiet torrent first and then everyone else. Oftentimes, our abilities go unappreciated. However, in this storey, despite the girl’s lack of interest in the man’s creative values, she gradually becomes receptive and discovers that art has some significance and purpose and welcomes it totally.

Initially, prior to the artist’s influence on the men in worker’s paradise, the men’s and the artist’s perspectives of duty were diametrically opposed. The men felt that one should do meaningful work and avoid wasting time on frivolous hobbies, but the wrong man, an artist, was always engaged in his so-called “purposeless and futile” job, which was totally different from the labour of the men. According to him, every work that brings joy to our minds and enhances the beauty of this world is quite significant.

The storey is divided into two worlds: that of the idler – artist and that of the hustlers – folks in paradise. Both worlds are critical. The realm of the idler – artist is significant since it brings happiness to our minds. It is the world in which we all forget our troubles and revel in our daily routines. That visual universe adds colour to our lives, despite the fact that they appear to be devoid of significance or purpose on the surface. Similarly, the world of the workers’ paradise’s inhabitants is similarly significant. This is the world in which we live. Physical labour in this world is limited to feeding our mouths; else, we shall starve to death. In this sense, both of these worlds complement one another – one takes care of the mind, while the other takes care of the body.

Irony of  A Wrong Man in Workers’ Paradise

Throughout the narrative, the writer applies irony. He dismisses art literally, yet he is being sarcastic. His attitude toward art reflects that of society.

Theme of  A Wrong Man in Workers’ Paradise

The title implies that this short storey is about a man who is wrongly present in workers’ paradise. The author employs satire and mocks the world’s attitude toward art.

The author suggests that ‘art for the sake of art’ would serve just the goal of art. By ridiculing the actions of the wrong guy, the author humorously mocks those who do not understand the worth of art. The storey also tells us that “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”

Along with being amusing due to its paradoxical remarks, it raises several significant issues like employment, leisure, utility, and emotions, among others. The expression “the Moving Finger” is derived from Omar Khayyam’s ‘Rubiyat,’ in which the moving finger refers to ‘time’ or ‘fate,’ and man lacks the ability to modify anything that time has decreed for him. However, in this myth, the elders of Paradise remedy the mistake of the moving finger. Due to the Moving Finger’s error, an artist who had been wasting his time painting merely ends up in Workers’ Paradise. He has no idea how to pass the time there because everyone else is constantly moving about doing something or other. Once, a girl glances at him and, upon observing his unemployment, offers to’give him part of her job. However, the artist declines and instead requests that her pitcher make pictures on it. The girl is perplexed as to why he wishes to create pictures, but after some convincing, she gives him her pitcher. She inquires about the meaning of the drawings once he completes them, but the artist responds that a painting may have no meaning or purpose. The girl is perplexed by his response and gets gradually entranced by his work to the point where, rather than rushing to complete her task, she becomes contemplative and slow. The next time he requests her ribbons to colour them, she happily provides them and spends more time experimenting with the vibrant ribbons. Numerous other individuals are similarly impacted by the artist and his work. Work begins to suffer in the Workers’ Paradise. The elders frown and forbid the artist from entering Paradise. When the artist departs, the girl also departs, confounding all the elders in Paradise. Until then, only work had been significant to them, and interest with art, friendship, or love had been meaningless.

Throughout the storey, there are two worlds: the world of the idler – an artist, and the world of the hustlers – people who live in paradise. Both realms are equally essential in their own right. The realm of the idler – artist is significant because it brings happiness to our minds and hearts. It is the world, in which we may all forget our sorrows and take pleasure in the activities of our daily lives; it is the world. Although it looks to have no value or purpose on the surface, the world of the aesthetic adds colour to our lives even when it appears to have none. Also of equal importance is their environment, which is referred to as the “workers’ paradise.” This is the world that provides us with the resources we need to survive. All of the physical labour that we do in this world can only provide food for our stomachs; otherwise, we shall starve to death. As a result, both of these worlds are complementary to one another – one takes care of the intellect, while the other takes care of our physical body.

Questions and Answers of  A Wrong Man in Workers’ Paradise

Comprehension I

1. What sort of things did the man do on earth?
Ans. The man created little sculptures and weird earthen objects (pots) strewn with sea shells.

2. What was the ‘mistake’ of the aerial messenger?
Ans. The’mistake’ made by the aerial messenger was that he found a place in Workers’ Paradise for the wrong individual (Heaven).

3. How do people in Workers’ Paradise spend their time?
Ans. Workers’ Paradise people keep themselves quite active. They despise being sluggish. They are content with their frantic pace of work.

4. Why did the man not fit in with the others in Workers’ Paradise?
Ans. The man passed all his life on the planet earth. Without any work, he did not fit in with others in Workers’ Paradise.

5. How is the girl described?

Ans. The girl is characterised as being lively, moving rapidly, much like a talented hand on the strings of a guitar. Her hair looks unkempt, with a few wisps of hair falling over her brow as if attempting to reach her eyes.

6. What was the girl’s initial impression of the man?
Ans. The girl’s initial impression of the man was that she was filled with pity. By seeing him not doing anything, he did not have any work to do.

7. What did the girl do after taking home the painted pitcher?
Ans. After bringing the painted pitcher home, the girl put it up to the light and examined it from every aspect, making certain no one was watching. Even at night, in the dim light of the lamp, she examined the pitcher once more in silence.

8. What is the effect of the man’s creations on the girl and others in Workers’ Paradise?
Ans. The busy girl of Workers’ Paradise began spending a long time every day trying on the man’s coloured ribbon. She squandered so much time trying out the ribbon that time flew by. Much construction remained incomplete. Gradually, the work of others began to suffer as well.
Many once energetic people have suddenly become idle, squandering their time on frivolous pursuits like as painting and sculpture.

9. What was the decision taken by the elders? Were they justified?
Ans. The elders decided to send away the man from the Workers’ Paradise, saying that he was not the right sort for Workers’ Paradise. They justified themselves by concluding that “this” was not the place for the likes of the man.

10. What was the man’s reaction to the elders’ decision?
Ans. The man was immensely relieved when the elders decided to send him out from Workers’ Paradise right away.

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Comprehension II

1. The man indulged in “mad” whims and “wasted” his time painting. From whose point of view are these terms used? What is the author’s attitude towards the man and his reoccupations?
Ans. The adjective terms “mad” whims and “wasted” his time painting are used by those who believe that any work should possess “utility” or “usefulness.” In a roundabout way, the author admires the man for doing something for his own amusement.

2. Explain the gradual changes that come in the girl’s attitude towards the man.
Ans. Initially, the girl was apprehensive and irritated when the man requested her pitcher for the purpose of sketching images on it. However, when the man asked her daily, she was forced to relent and give it. For the first time in her life, the girl expressed interest in something that had no significance or purpose. She later accepted to the man’s request that she weave a coloured ribbon for her hair. The busy girl gradually began admiring and appreciating something that serves no function other than pure pleasure.

3. Describe the author’s view of the “scheme of things” in Workers’ Paradise.
Ans. The author does not like the “scheme of things”. The routine work done by the people (everyday) of the Workers’ Paradise is like a drudgery. The author seems to suggest that life becomes boring, dull and monotony, if there is only work and no recreation. Indirectly, the author takes the side of “the man”.

4. The man says, “A picture may have no meaning and may serve no purpose”. Explain the sentence in the context of the central idea of the story.
Ans. The speaker appears to be implying that while the image lacked “utility,” it did possess “aesthetic value.” It satisfies our senses and arouses our emotions. The lesson’s key concept is “Art for the sake of Art.” This indicates that art is not required to impart values, issue instructions, or take a position. Even if a poem or novel contains no meaning, they can be liked and appreciated.

5. The author presents the man as an idler and calls the other place “paradise”. Are we supposed to take his words literally or does he mean something different? Irony is a way of using words and tone to mean something quite opposite to what is actually being said. Discuss the author’s use of irony in the story.
Ans. The author portrays the man as slothful and ironically refers to the other location as “Paradise.” Tagore believes that humans require recreation. After some time working in this straightforward and entertaining narrative, he discreetly attacks the residents of the “Workers’ Paradise” who are obsessed with “work” and “work.” Tagore also takes aim at writers and poets who believe art should serve a purpose, attempting to communicate the message that art is valuable just as art and that the sole purpose of art is the pursuit of pure beauty and enjoyment.

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