The occasion at great Durbar was the coronation of King George V as emperor of India in 1911. The official proclamation of Queen Victoria’s assumption of the title as the “Empress of India was also held at the Great Durbar, of Delhi, India (Halsall, P. 1998, par. 1). The author’s message about the social realities in India under British rule rings loud and clear.
He has beautifully used the occasion to dramatize the social condition in which the author personified India with the character of a typical Indian farmer named Nanuk Singh, and the British rule with the brown rats that were “deliberately climbing up a swaying stem to seat themselves on a cob and begin breakfast systematically” (Steel, F. A. 2005, p. 114). The author’s description of Singh’s economic condition depicts a social reality about the impact of British rule.
They were helpless and cannot do anything against the brown rats robbing them their foods. The author must be pointing this statement to the economic exploitation of the Indian economy. Their helplessness against this exploitation was depicted by the fact that he losses his three sons. As Singh was contemplating about the failure of his harvest, he thought to bring the matter to the authorities to explain his failure was due to the reason that “Purameshwar had sent rats instead of rain” (Steel, p. 19).
This allegorical statement reflects their frustration of their inability to resolve their social, political, and economic miseries under British. The author’s use of personification and allegories was a technique that beautifully fit to the occasion of the story. It did not only add clarity to the author’s intent, but it also reveals cultural insights in the story. India is known in their religion which considers animal life as also sacred.
Despite of the economic losses Nanuk incurred because of those brown rats, yet he did not devise a plan to destroy them. He simply thought that Purameshwar had sent them. He was even willing to give them share. This insights are must have anchored on Indian religious concept of reincarnation. Under this concept, the rats could also be the souls of people who had reincarnated in the form of the rats.