The Narrator’s Relationship with Ratan

“The master said : ‘ You need not be anxious about my going away, Ratan ; I shall tell my successor to look after you.’ … Ratan had borne many a scolding from her master without complaint, but these kind words she could not bear. She burst out weeping, and said : ‘No, no, you need not tell anybody anything at all about me ; I don’t want to stay on here.'”

Tagor, Rabindranath. “The Postmaster.” Macmillan and Co., 1918, pp. 167.

In one of the final scenes between Ratan and the postmaster, the difference in how Ratan views him versus how he values her is highlighted, as she weeps at the most simple statement he could possibly say, while he says what he sees as just enough to comfort her. The postmaster frames it as she is just anxious about him leaving, but in reality Ratan holds a close emotional bond with him through the memories that they’ve shared and the time they spent together, time that she doesn’t want to spend with another replacement person, while the postmaster sees his presence as something that can be replaced. Ratan fell into the emotions of seeing their relationship as more permanent, but the postmaster saw it as temporary – for what it was.

Ratan and the Postmaster

“He longed to remember the touch on the forehead of soft hands with tinkling bracelets, to imagine the presence of loving womanhood, the nearness of mother and sister And the exile was not disappointed. Ratan ceased to be a little girl.”

Tagor, Rabindranath. “The Postmaster.” Macmillan and Co., 1918, pp. 164.

As more than just a companion for his loneliness, Ratan was able to simultaneously take on all of the roles in womanhood that the postmaster was missing – from mother, to sister, and I’m sure to some extent, a daughter he never hand. In this way, Ratan seems to be less of a person to the postmaster than she is just a fluid substitute he can use for his fulfillment.

The Postmaster

“‘I was thinking,’ said the postmaster, ‘of teaching you to read,’ and then for the rest of the afternoon he taught her the alphabet.”

Tagor, Rabindranath. “The Postmaster.” Macmillan and Co., 1918, pp. 163.

As the postman looks on the rain clouds, the birds, and the falling leaves, he concludes that the loneliness they express is the same loneliness he feels in his heart. Soon after he has this thought, he calls on Ratan. His decision to teach her the alphabet turns their master-servant relationship into a more intimate teacher-pupil one. Just as Ratan has been giving her services to the postmaster, the postmaster has now reciprocated that by doing something for Ratan, making a deeper place for himself in her life.

But Ratan had no philosophy

So the traveller, borne on the breast of the swift-flowing river, consoled himself with philosophical reflections […] But Ratan had no philosophy. […] Alas for the foolish human heart!

Tagore, Rabindranath. “The Postmaster.” Macmillan and Co., 1918, pp. 169.

The narrator describes Ratan from a distance, observing her with generalizations of her being and personality. The narrator also seems to trivialize her existence, emotions, behaviors, etc. as childishly “foolish,” while also using her to convey the emotional sentiments of the story.