Character and Role of Mali in Vendor of Sweets

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Mali is the son of the protagonist of the story, Jagan. Although he is the son he acts as the antagonist of the novel creating the conflict between the fatherand the son. Mali belongs to modern generation where he believes his father belongs to stereotype, traditional life. Their generation gap and emotional trauma creates a huge chasm between their relationship.  

Mali is tall, well-built and handsome. His father, Jagan is proud of his imposing figure at the statue of Sir Lawley. Mali is intelligent, persuasive and fluent character who can impress others. He loved his mother but unfortunately, his mother died when he was a mere child, since then Jagan has been both mother and father to him. He gave him all that he wanted which spoiled him. Mali takes his love for granted, without giving him respect nor love in return. He disobeys his father and does whatever he thinks proper. The true fact that he suffered from a psychological trauma, as his mother died of a rare type of brain tumour which had no cure. But somehow or the other, Mali felt that it was his father’s theories of ‘Nature Cure’ which had killed her. Since then, he never opened his heart to his father and thus caused him much pain and suffering. 

Mali’s opens conflict with his father refusing the food cooked by him; which suited Mali as he grew up and cut a fine figure. Then suddenly he decides to stop studying at college claiming his intention to write novels. However, he seems not to bear the idea of what and when to write. He steals money from the conceal of his father and goes to America to study writing novels. He returns from there with another person, Grace, whom he introduced as his wife, but to whom he was not really married. His fathers’s relatives cut off him because he has a Christian in the family. His father decides to barricade his part of the house and lived in complete seclusion as he believes his home polluted. However, Mali takes no heed about any of those traditions. After living in America, he dislikes his town and wants to modernize it. 

Mali demanded over two lakhs of rupee to set up a factory for the manufacture of a story-writing machine. Jagan flatly refuses to pay is as it would ruin him financially. This increase the tense between the conflict between Mali and his father. Mali loses his way and asks Grace to leave the country as he could not achieve his intended stability in the country. His father leaves everything behind and enters the Vanaprashtha Ashram, the earlier life of a hermit following non-violent and cooperative way. Mali gets arrested due to violating rules by drunk-driving. At the end of the story, Narayan leaves an open space for the reader to think what will happen to Mali in the future. 

Mali had been the most ungrateful and stony-hearted to his fond father and his sins were coming home to roost. Wickedness and crooked practices do not thrive for any length of time. Mali must have learnt this lesson or at least he should have realised that one ought to be proud of one’s country, and the art cannot be mechanical. He must have realised the hollowness of his fantasy, which is based on another one’s expenses. 

Although the story, The Vendor of Sweets is written long before, Narayan’s universality of themes still applicable to modern society. Aren’t there sons and daughters like this who do like to change the system without valuing the traditions? Aren’t there children who intend to build their dreams on parents’ money? Don’t you find children spoilt by parents’ excessive love? Comment your ideas in the comments. Share the post and subscribe the blog to receive new posts right into your mailbox.

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