Back to: West Bengal Board Class 9th English Guide and Notes
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In ‘The Price of Bananas,’ two characters, a banana vendor and a business man, who symbolize and embody two different social classes. They have a face-to-face interaction, which has its own set of consequences. It all starts out on a light-hearted note. The narrator was traveling from Faizabad to Lucknow by train. The businessman boarded the train as the narrator, where he watched the incident. A businessman is seen heading into the railway station, trailed by a subservient coolie, when the narrative begins.
About The Author
Mulk Raj Anand was a pioneering figure of Indian literature in English, and he garnered worldwide acclaim early in his career. His works Coolie and Untouchable inspired a generation of educated Indians to reflect on the societal problems that were entrenched in the name of religion and tradition in India. The World Peace Council awarded Mulk Raj Anand the International Peace Prize. During his extensive literary career, he has received several prizes and distinctions, including the Sahitya Akademi Award, the “Padma Bhushan,” and the Leverhulme Fellowship.
The Pompous Businessman And The Kind Banana Vendor
A businessman is seen entering a railway station, followed by a coolie carrying his luggage. As he enters the railway station, the businessman exudes a sense of importance. A cheeky monkey snatches his headgear from a treetop in a matter of seconds. The businessman’s dignity is briefly revoked. He sends signals to the monkey, requesting for the cap, but he is unsuccessful. The observers find this amusing, and they burst out laughing, causing the businessman’s ego to be humiliated and shattered. The monkey is then enticed by a banana dealer, who offers the monkey a bunch of bananas in exchange for returning the cap. The monkey, who was initially perplexed and shocked, eventually backs down and returns the cap to the banana seller, who then returns it to the businessman.
The businessman is happy to collect his cap, and he settles into his train seat without even saying a simple ‘Thank you,’ appreciating the banana vendor’s generosity. When the banana vendor demands the price of bananas, the businessman is shocked. The businessman, as cunning as he is, refuses to give up his money on the pretext that he did not even request the banana vendor’s help. The unfortunate vendor’s point of view gets lost in the wind as the train moves forward, landing on deaf ears.
The narrator empathizes with the poor seller and creates a cartoon of the businessman, which he distributes to all of the other travellers except him. As a result, they laugh, making the businessman awkward. The businessman had his own preconceptions about the situation. He had his own perspective on things and justifications for his actions. Perhaps this disagreement would not have developed in the first place if he had made a profound transformation in his approach. The two annas, after all, would have made absolutely no difference to the businessman.
The fundamental issue with the businessman was that his ideals were far from reality, and he had no understanding of a poor man’s sentiments. To him, the only thing that mattered was his ego, which had suffered a serious blow. Furthermore, the businessman overlooked the need of reciprocating in human connections. In social relationships, there is always a give and take. In this scenario, the banana vendor’s kindness in rescuing the cap for the businessman should have been duly rewarded; however, this did not happen because of lack of consideration by the businessman.