Ten Quotation on Father and Son Conflict in The Vendor of Sweets


In the novel The Vendor of Sweets by R.K. Narayan the plot is developed around the two major characters Jagan and Mali, father and son. Throughout the story, there is an obvious east and west conflict between them which cannot be bridged. When analysing the conflict the following quotations will be helpful for you:

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Quote 01:

Mali gives up his education and makes several plots under the nose of Jagan. However, their lack of communication hides the future plans of Mali:

The boy looked up angrily. In his anxiety to communicate a new idea to his father, he had become brusque and aggressive. His face was flushed. (24)

‘For twenty years’, Jagan reflected, ‘he has grown up with me, under the same roof, but how little I have known him! But the boy has been up to something.’ (36)

Quote 02:

Mali starts detaching from father’s grip: first by avoiding his meals. This is one way of rejecting father’s practices of meagre meals as well as Mali’s way of becoming independent:

I do not want you to cook for me hereafter. We have our college canteen. I can look after myself. (24)

Why do you bother when you keep saying one need not eat? (25)

Quote 03:

There is an invisible barrier between them which emerged right after the death of Mali’s mother. This reveals that Mali believes his mother died because of father’s reluctance to give her proper medicinal care. Jagan was obsessed with his nature cure medical practice. However, it is the dramatic irony that only Jagan knows she died from a rare brain tumour.

He reaffirmed his faith in his son in the loudest terms possible. Secretly his mind was bothered as to why there was always an invisible barrier between them. (37)

The coarse, raw pain he had felt at the sight of Mali on that fateful day remained petrified in some vital centre of his being. From that day, the barrier had come into being. The boy had ceased to speak to him normally. (38)

Quote 04:

When Mali has grown up, the detachment has grown into a wide chasm. Their life style and inability to communicate properly make the two banks of their relationship grow wider and wider.

The simplest solution of questioning Mali directly seemed impracticable. What could they discuss? Mali seemed to have become detached, more detached than ever. The only link between them was the five-rupee currency note that he left on the hall table. (43)

The boy’s movement were so finely adjusted out of his own orbit that though they lived under one roof they might be in two different worlds. (43)

Quote 05:

The discussion between cousin and Jagan reveals Jagan’s true ambition not to bother his own son. His too much care made it impossible him to reach his own son, thinking that his words might hurt him.

cousin: ‘You puzzle me. Why are you frightened?’

Jagan: ‘I hate to upset him, that’s all. I have never upset him in all my life.’

cousin: ‘That means you have carried things to a point where you cannot speak to him at all.’

Jagan: ‘it’s not that,’ said Jagan, not willing to accept this view.

cousin: can you tell me when you had your last conversation with him?’

Jagan: ….( Jagan remembered that their last speech had been three and half months ago.) (45)

Quote 06:

When he realized that his son has gone too far, beyond his reach. It was too late. Mali has become self-sufficient and making his life plans without caring Jagan nor his advices.

The cousin said, ‘Did you know that he had gone to Madras for a few days?’

‘No. Without my permission or help, without telling me anything? I thought he was in his room.”

Quote 07:

Mali flies into the sky of freedom like a kite which is not attached to a string. This completely destroys the bond between father and son. Mali’s detachment grows further into the level of a culture-killer. He does things which his culture never would never accept. He starts eating beef, living a sinful life without marrying and lying his father that he married a half Korean woman. When Mali returns from America, he had been changed into somebody strange, not Indian and not his son:

Jagan rigorously suppressed was that one in which Mali had written, after three years’ experience of America, ‘I’ve taken to eating beef…Jagan felt outraged. The shatras defined the five deadly sins and the killing a cow headed the list. (58)

When Mali approached him extending his hand, he tried to shrink away and shield himself behind the cousin. When he had to speak to his son, with difficulty he restrained himself from calling him ‘sir’…(59)

Mali indicated the girl at his side and said, ‘This is Grace. We are married…Complete confusion. Married? When were you married? You didn’t tell me. Don’t you have to tell your father? (59)

Quote 08:

Mali’s home-coming starts making a turbulence inside Jagan’s household. He starts becoming a head-ache to Jagan with his new scheme to produce a novel writing machine in collaboration with an American company. He forces Jagan to invent his money.  

Mali, who never used to seek him before was now intruding even into the privacy of his puja room, interrupting his prayers. (85)

Quote 09:

Their dispute becomes a conflict due to their inability to communicate properly. Whenever they start the conversation about the business, it ends up with something else.

‘I really do not know what you mean. You expect everything to be said ten times; no wonder nothing gets done in this country.’

‘Why do you blame the country for everything? It has been good enough for hundred millions,’ (91)

Quote 10:

Jagan finally realizes that he cannot seek any hope from Mali as a son. He understands Mali is not his son anymore but a heartless invader to squander his hard earned money. So, makes his stand clear that he would not invest money on his impractical scheme. Mali’s rude behaviour upon his father triggers this:

 ‘Sit down, father,’ Mali commanded, ‘but don’t turn that wheel; it’s noisy and I want to talk to you.’

At this Jagan felt a sinking at his stomach and smacked his drying lips.(127)

Mali insisted, ‘I have to know whether you are coming into our business or not.’

‘What’ll you do if I say no?’ (128)

The conflict between the father and son never bridges. It ends with a tragi-comic way by Jagan deciding to exile from his life into the jungle and Mali ends his youthful life devastated and waiting for a predicament.

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  1. Thank you very much it was really important................

  2. thank you so much for all these things. they helped me a lot! and can you please put more quotations about east west conflict in this novel?

    1. There is a post on it, pls use search icon to check.

  3. How to describe the stage of transformation in Jagan's Family