The English Teacher relates the story of a young man, from his carefree bachelor days to becoming a family man, then a man who slowly matures as he tries to deal with the devastating loss of his beloved wife.
Summary Of The Book
Krishnan teaches English at the Albert Mission College in Malgudi, and lives happily alone. His days are monotonous, replete with routines. His wife and new born child live with his in-laws.
But, when his child is around seven months old, the elders of the family decide that it is time for Krishnan to take up the responsibilities for his family. So, they inform him that his wife and child would be joining him soon.
Krishnan’s life is changed, as he has to find a new house to live with his family. He is initially upset at the change in routine, but soon, he grows to love it. His wife Sushila transforms his life and they grow very close. He also adores his little daughter, Leela.
As a family man, Krishnan learns to adjust to the many changes and also enjoys the many delights it brings. Soon, Sushila and Krishnan plan to move to another house, and start house hunting. Unfortunately, Sushila gets accidentally trapped in a dirty toilet and as a result, she contracts typhoid.
Krishnan takes care of her diligently, always remaining optimistic about her recovery. Sadly, though, she dies, and Krishnan’s life is again changed, this time, it is thrown into confusion and bereavement.
He finds it hard to come to term with the loss, and tries many means to get over his grief. He finds a bit of relief in the antics of his daughter Leela, and her childish innocence and wonder. He tries to lose himself in taking care of her, but the weight of his loss refuses to ease its burden. Eventually he turns to spirituality and tries to connect with his wife’s spirit through a medium.
By the end of the book, The English Teacher, Krishnan manages to come to term with his loss, and turns all his attention towards his daughter. He resigns from his position at the college and becomes a teacher at a new school started by a friend and mentor.
About R. K. Narayan
R.K. Narayan was one of the path breakers in Indian literature and paved the way for Indian authors who wrote in English. His novels portray the life of the common man in the colonial and post-independence period.
The English Teacher is believed to be a semi-autobiographical account, due to similarities between the author’s life and the plot. Some of the other books written by R. K. Narayan are Malgudi Schooldays, Malgudi Days, The Guide, The Man-Eater of Malgudi, Waiting for the Mahatma, and The Financial Expert.
All his stories are set in the fictional town of Malgudi in Southern India. His stories are realistic and reflect the life of people in that period. This novel is considered to be part of a trilogy, with the other two novels being Swami and Friends and The Bachelor of Arts. They are seen as character developments of the same protagonist, even though the names differ in each novel.