The English Teacher


Major Characters




Leela is natural and vibrant. She is a clear example of the innocence, honesty and purity that the Headmaster sees in the world of children. Generally a caring daughter she is occasionally petulant and our exposure to this side of her personality perhaps indicates to the reader something that the Headmaster does not quite realise, which is that not everything can be learnt from children. They need to do some learning too. However, her continual questions and childish naivety make us look at the world again in a fresh light.



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‘The sight of it [Krishna washing] thrilled her and she shrieked as water lapped about.’




She asks if her friend can walk with her father and laments that ‘She is so poor’ because ‘Nobody buys her peppermints’




‘The one relief was the child, spick and span and fresh, and mocking by her very carriage the world of elders.’




After Susila’s death Leela is promised a doll and impatiently insists on having it ‘Doll – come on grandfather.’




When Leela watches her father sleep so ants or flies don’t get into him she explains this to him with ‘a hint in her tone as if a sentry had mounted guard against a formidable enemy.’




‘What do you do when you sleep, father?’ is a question ‘only another child could find an answer for.’ Leela also questions the rules of the world she finds around her. When told she must wash first and then read she asks ‘Why?’




‘Shall I also grow tall when I go to school?’




Leela is strong willed and capable of ordering her father about ‘Bathe me, father, bathe me, father.’ ‘Let us go’




‘As soon as we entered the gate, a few other children surrounded Leela and took her away. She left without a thought.




Leela demands quickly ‘Where is the cat?’ when they visit the Headmaster’s house but Krishna, more aware of decorum, says ‘You must not ask for it at once.’




Leela tries to throw away some toys but cannot because ‘They are all important’




‘Is [grandmother] bringing dolls?’ ‘What have you brought for me?’ ‘Granny, open your trunk, open your trunk.’




Leela is ‘in splendid health’ and ‘has made [Krishna’s father] forget about his illness.’