The Gold Watch by Mulk Raj Anand
B.1. Acton was so devoted to the job of spreading the monopoly of King’s marmalade that he had no time to spare for his wife.
B.2 . Sharma was an old family man of fifty who had greyed prematurely. Also, he had acquired a general legend of saintliness.
B.3. No, they are silent assassins who hide their hypocrisy and cruelty behind an artificial show of politeness.
B.4. Very rarely did Acton condescend to meet the Indian staff or smile at them. Moreover, he was curious about what Acton had brought for him from London.
B.5. He can have his provident fund and one month’s leave with pay in advance.
B.6. His sola topee, the bush shirt and trousers are the few concessions to modernity that he made.
B.7. Talking to the Sahib.
B.8. The story occurs before independence because a master-slave relationship exists between the English men and the Indians.
C.1. In the first place, very rarely did the head of the firm condescend to move down to the corridor of the Indian staff. Secondly Mr. Acton was not known to smile too much. He was a morose old Sahib. Again he was a slave driver. Sharma did not understand why he was singled out.
C.2. Srijut Sudarshan Sharma wanted to know the mystery behind Acton Sahib’s smile. He also wanted to know what Acton had brought for him from London. The curiosity was too much for him to tolerate. Moreover, it will be two days hence when he will ultimately get to know the secret behind the smile as also what was brought for him from London. Anxious and curious, he could not wait for two more days. Acton Sahib was already going out of the door. It was now or never. So he felt he should talk to Acton.
C.3. (Use points from C.2). Overwhelmed by surprise and anxiety, he asked Acton about the matter. Acton replied that he had brought for him the gift of a gold watch with an inscription on it. He was numbed by surprise because he could not understand why he should be singled out from the whole distribution department of the company for the privilege of the gift of a gold watch. After all he had done nothing brave that he could remember.
C.4. , C.5. When the sad truth dawned upon him his heart began to palpitate against his will. Sweat soaked his body. He staggered a little, then adjusted himself and got on to the pavement. His steps were heavy. He was reasonably sure now that he would get notice of retirement on Monday. He tried to think of some other possible reasons. There was no other explanation. His doom was sealed.
C.6. See page 79, para 4 and 5.
C.7. , C.9.See Essay
C.8. Srijut Sudarshan Sharma’s fellow employees crowded round him when he came out of Acton’s cabin. They tried to console him. One of them read the inscription which read “ In appreciation of the loyal service of Mr Sharma to Henry King & Co., on his retirement...” Mr Banaji patted his back understanding. But the pity was too much for him. He told Srijut that the new partner had a relation. Srijut was to be replaced by him. One of his colleagues also noted that the gold watch did not work.
The story “The Gold Watch” is set in British India, in Bombay. The protagonist of the story is Srijut Sudarshan Sharma, an Indian working as a humble clerk in a business firm run by white men. He is treated unjustly by the white sahibs in spite of his exemplary character and efficiency. The relationship between the domineering whites and the subservient Indians is symbolic of the values of the colonial era.
Srijut Sharma is a sincere and honest man who works for the British company. But he is now unwanted. He is simply made to retire before his time. He is asked to retire when he has five years of service left in him. There is no other reason except that the management wants one of its favourites in his place. He faces an uncertain future. This is symbolic of the manner in which the colonial masters treated the native Indians.
When the management wants to get rid of one of the workers, they adopt the strategy of gifting a cheap wrist watch to the employee. Instead of properly rewarding him so that he may be able to lead a secure life, they only make false promises. Thus he is rendered utterly helpless. Mr Acton has no regard for his subordinate. But he comes to show a hypocritical friendship when he wants to fire the employee.
The gold watch is symbolic of the hypocrisy of the colonial masters. Like the gold watch which fails to work, the promises they make are only for show. There is no real love in their hypocritical words. They show concern, but there is no real emotion behind it. The gold watch is also symbolic of the employee’s wretched future. His character has been exemplary but he is fired from his position and his life will slowly but surely come to a standstill like the gold watch.
Copyright © Manu Mangattu, Assistant Professor, Department of English, SGC Aruvithura
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