The Homecoming Summary, Theme by Rabindranath Tagore
The Homecoming Summary
‘Homecoming’ is the tale of a 14 year old boy who was a nuisance to his mother. So he was sent away for studying and died there unloved and longing for his home. There has not been a single person who did not weep after reading this story.
Phatik Chakravorti was a 14 year old Bengali boy whose father died very early. He grew up lazy, wild and disobedient. His younger brother Makhan Chakravorti was quiet, good and fond of reading, an ideal son to be precise. Whereas Phatik thought about doing new mischief every day.
One day he and his retinue of boys pushed into the river a wooden log meant to be shaped as the mast of a boat. Makhan showed objection to this and while he was sitting firmly on the log, was thrown into water along with the log.
At home, when he was questioned about this, he beat not only his brother, but also his mother. It was then that his uncle from the far Calcutta City arrived. He agreed to take the boy along with him to Calcutta to be educated there. The boy was only glad to leave, but the mother was only half-relived and half-sad.
Phatik’s uncle had three sons of his own and his aunt did not like new addition to their family. A 14 year old boy will have his own problems too. He was fast growing up. He was neither a child nor a man, crossing the line in between.
Soon he started missing the meadow, mountain and river of his native village. Therefore, it was no wonder he became a failure at school. He answered no questions, was beaten badly daily at school and ridiculed by all including his cousins. He grew impatient about returning home and started asking about the holidays.
One day Phatik lost his lesson book and was scolded and abused much by his aunt. It served as the last hurt to break him. On a rainy afternoon after school, feeling fever and headache, he sought shelter somewhere and did not return home. He did not want to trouble his aunt anymore. Police help was sought the next day.
They found him and brought him home, shivering and fallen into a delirious state. He talked about things in his native village, asked his mother not to beat him anymore and hallucinated about everything that he used to enjoy at his village.
He moved restlessly, beating his hands up and down. His condition seemed critical to the doctor, and his mother in the village was sent for. When his mother finally arrived there crying, and calling his name, he was nearing his eternal home which is Heaven.
The Homecoming About the Author Rabindranath Tagore
Rabindranath was the youngest of the thirteen children born to Debendranath Tagore and Sarada Devi. He was born on 7th May 1861 in Calcutta, Bengal. Rabindranath was fondly called “Rabi” by his parents. His father was a well-known Hindu philosopher and social reformer who introduced little Rabi to the world of theatre, music and literature at an early age. A child prodigy, Rabindranath wrote his first poem when he was merely seven. He did his early education at home and spent most of the time in the lap of nature.
In 1878, he was sent to Brighton, England, to study law, but he failed to complete his studies and returned to Bengal in 1880. Back in his hometown, he devoted himself completely towards his love for reading and writing. In 1882, he wrote one of his most acclaimed poems, ‘Nirjharer Swapnabhanga’. In 1883, Tagore married Mrinalini Devi and fathered five children.
In 1901, Rabindranath founded Santiniketan, meaning ‘Abode of Peace’, an international university with an extensive and flexible curriculum suitable for students with different aptitudes and needs. This was perhaps the most glorious and happy period in Rabindranath’s life. Sadly, between 1902 and 1907, Tagore lost his wife, son and daughter. Out of his anguish, emerged some of his most sensitive and critically acclaimed work Gitanjali that was published in 1910.
It was comprised of 157 poems based on nature, spirituality and complex human emotions. In 1915, he was granted knighthood by the British, which he relinquished as a symbol of protest against the 1919 Jalianwala Bagh massacre. During the 1920s and 1930s, he travelled extensively around the world; earning a huge fan-following. He used to deeply admire Mohandas Karamachand Gandhi and it was he who gave him the title “Mahatma”.
Tagore had composed about 2,230 songs, which are often referred to as ‘Rabindra Sangeeth’. We are sure that all of you know that it was Rabindranath Tagore who penned the national anthem for India – ‘Jana Gana Mana’, but do you know that he also wrote the Bangladeshi national song – ‘Aamaar Sonaar Banglaa’?
Tagore loved to travel; during his lifetime, he visited more than thirty countries on five continents and spread the essence of Indian culture and Literature. His works have been translated into many foreign languages also including English, Spanish, German, Dutch etc. Rabindranath Shakur died on August 7, 1941, Calcutta.
The Homecoming Theme
A. Phatik, a village boy, protagonist of the story:
Pratik was a 14 year old boy who was the leader of his gang and always was up to making mischief. He was a troublemaker and unlike his younger brother, was not at all a studious boy. The whole story centred round him.
B. The contrast between country-life and city-life:
The country-life is generally understood to be pure and uncorrupted. The same holds true in this story. There are green lushes of ‘glorious meadow’, river banks and open spaces. A city does not have such natural gifts. Phatik was a leader amongst his friends in the village, while in Calcutta, he was left neglected. Phatik found himself being jeered and insulted by his own cousins in Calcutta!
C. State of confusion at growing ages:
It is indeed true that puberty and teenage are times when we are in a state of confusion, owing to several physical, mental and moral changes in ourselves. We fail to identify ourselves with either. That is why we crave for a sense of belongingness at this age. Phatik too longs for love and acceptance in his aunt’s home but fails to get it.
D. Narrow acceptability of urban education:
The story reveals how modem education in cities is unwelcoming to village folks who may not be acquainted with the nuances of city life. Thus, Tagore seems to suggest that modern education is a sort of homogenization, rather than differentiation, and it fails to cater to all as per their differential needs.
E. Wavering between uncertain paths:
When we are young, we think future days have something interesting in store for us. When we reach there, we miss the memories of childhood. The same holds true for Phatik in some ways. The boy who was pestering his uncle to go to the city now wanted to get back to his village!
The Homecoming Characters
1. Phatik :
A teenage boy of fourteen, Phatik was a lazy, turbulent, wild and disobedient boy. He was the leader of his gang. He liked to make mischief but did not have any intention of studying. He was afraid of his mother because he knew that his mother would not support his mischievous activities.
Though, on a feat of temper, he decided to go to Calcutta with his uncle, he regretted his decision soon and wanted to come back home. He could nort adjust with the new family and environment. The society too rejected him. At last, he got terribly sick with high fever that slowly paved his way to death. He never got the chance to return home again.
2. Makhan :
The younger brother of Phatik, quiet, good and fond of reading, an ideal son to be precise. But he did not like his big brother Phatik. He kept on disturbing Phatik and later even told lie to his mother about Phatik that he beat him. His brother was partially responsible for Phatik’s misery.
3. The Mother :
The mother of Phatik and Makhan was a good- natured lady but a little biased about her younger son Makhan. As Makhan was an obedient son, she always found Phatik responsible for every trouble. That is why she somewhat felt relieved when Phatik left for Calcutta with his uncle. Though she came to visit him at Calcutta at last, she was too late.
4. Phatik’s uncle and aunt :
Phatik’s uncle was a kind-hearted man, who tried to take care of him in Calcutta but his aunt was an agitated lady who did not like Phatik at all. Her harsh behaviour made Phatik panicky all the time and she was the reason because of whom Phatik did not return his uncle’s home when he fell sick.
The Homecoming Title of the Story
The title “The Homecoming” is appropriate because Phatik has several different crossroads in the story that involve coming home – both symbolically and literally. The first homecoming Phatik experiences are at the beginning of the story. His younger, favoured brother was injured in a scuffle and ran home to tattle to their mother.
Phatik delays returning home because he knows that he’ll face an unjust punishment. When he finally goes home, however, he has the opportunity to go to another home. His uncle Bhishamber offers to take him to Calcutta, where he’ll be educated and live with his cousins. Phatik is very excited to go – and even makes peace with his brother Makhan for the first time when he gives him his treasured goods.
That homecoming was another disappointment. Though Phatik was excited to go to Calcutta, he quickly learns that his aunt resents him and he’s out of place there. Despite his attempts to please her, he’s never able to. He also dislikes the city of Calcutta itself and misses his life in the country.
When he asks whether he can go home, his uncle says, “Wait till the holidays come.” When two police officers return him to his uncle’s home after he runs away, it’s his third homecoming. This one is even worse, as he’s ill from his escape. It’s implied that Phatik is dying.
The final potential homecoming is Phatik’s impending death. He waits for his mother, looking disappointed when she isn’t there. She finally comes, but the doctor says his condition is critical. Tagore writes, “Phatik” very slowly turned his head and, without seeing anybody, said: “Mother, the holidays have come.” It’s the first time his mother has shown him affection in a long time, calling him her darling and throwing herself onto his bed.
The Homecoming About the Story
Phatik was a mischievous boy who was a nuisance to his mother. Just like a 14 year old teenage boy, he was naughty, turbulent, wild and impulsive. His younger brother Makhan was just like the opposite. He was quiet, good and fond of reading.
One day, while pushing a wooden log into the water that was meant to be shaped as the mast of a boat, Makhan showed objection and at this they had a fight. At home, when Phatik was questioned about this, he behaved aggressively. It was then his uncle arrived from Calcutta and agreed to take Phatik with him.
At Calcutta he had some adjustment issues with the new family and new atmosphere. His aunt and cousins did not welcome him and he faced several troubles in new school. Moreover he felt the need of returning to his village but could not do so. Somehow he ended up getting terribly sick and eventually died. He could not reach his home ultimately.
The Homecoming Setting of the Story
The short story ‘The Homecoming’ is a story of a teenage boy, Phatik who was a turbulent, wild and disobedient boy. He liked to make mischief and acted on his own free will. The first part of the story was set on a village background where we could see how Phatik used to live his life there and the second part was set in the city Calcutta which actually turned the climax.
When Phatik reached Calcutta accompanied by his uncle he saw the cruelty if world around him. He faced serious troubles and had some adjustment issues which made him pine for his home. But ultimately he could not reach his home. Lying terribly sick with fever he only hallucinated of returning to his village. The story ended on a very sad note which showed how a vibrant boy became the prey of negligence and ignorance.
The Homecoming Main Points to Remember
- Phatik was a 14 year old teenage boy, lazy, wild, turbulent and disobedient whereas his brother Makhan was the exact opposite.
- Once Phatik and his friends decided to push a wooden log that was shaped as the mast of a boat, into water but suddenly Makhan appeared there and sat down on that log intentionally and didn’t move though he was warned.
- Phatik, to maintain his position among his friends ordered them to throw the log into water along with Makhan, though in mind, he was a bit frightened about what was about to come.
- Just as he thought, Makhan rose from water and complained to their mother. He told their mother that Phatik beat him. Though it was all a lie, their mother did not believe him.
- Suddenly their uncle came there and after a brief discussion Phatik decided to go Calcutta with his uncle.
- At Calcutta, Phatik was unwelcoming. His aunt and cousins did not welcome him. He faced several adjustment issues which crushed him from inside.
- He wanted to go back home but could not do so. He was waiting for the holidays to come but it seemed like it was never-ending.
- Phatik got very sick but did not want to trouble his aunt anymore so he went missing. When police found him he was high with fever.
- His fever took a toll on him, caused him death. Though his mother finally came to see him at Calcutta, it was too late.
The Homecoming Annotations and Vocabulary
Ringleader — leader of the team
Mischief — actions that anniy or irritate
Seconded — agreed to
Dignity — formal reserve of manner or appearance
Furious — very angry
Thrash — to beat soundly with a stick or whip
Amusement — fun
Manoeuvre — a method of troublemaking (here)
Impotent rage — helpless anger
Indignantly — showing anger for something unjust
Exhausted — drained
Rejoicing — merrymaking
Bequeathed — to leave by will
Perpetuity — the quality of being perpetual
Cramped — stuffy and unsuitable Oppressed sad
Tyrant — one resembling an oppressive ruler in the harsh use of authority or power
Unfathomable — immeasurable
Delirious — affected or marked by delirium
Whispered — murmured
Agitation — a violent movement