‘The English Teacher is primarily a story about disappointment.’ How far do you agree with this statement?


The novel the English Teacher can be interpreted as a story about disappointment as Krishna loses what is most important to him, Susila. This is most clearly demonstrated by his diary extract in which he describes ‘the days that followed’ with a sad and numb tone as if not even sure what to do anymore as he says ‘Nothing in life will worry or interest me hereafter’ suggesting that in some way he has given up in seeing the point of living. This is a disappointment as Susila’s arrival had allowed him to develop and become a better person as demonstrated when he says ‘I’m sorry, forgive and forget’ when discussing bathroom tiles. It is one of the first times we really see Krishna give in to someone as before when the boy at Sarayan Street had ‘pleaded’, Krishna had ‘brushed aside all his explanations’.


On the other hand this death can also be viewed positively as an opportunity for Krishna to build a better relationship with Leela, as before there was distance and he’[did] not know how to carry the baby’. This distance was further emphasized by the contrast between he two as he was in a ‘sagging, grey suit’, whereas she and Susila had looked ‘particularly radiant’ when he returned from school. Susila’s death had pushed him to spend more time with him as he says that ‘I had decided to spend the entire day in the company of the child’, whereas before he lacked energy with her and said ‘Do not disturb me’. AS well as this Krishna pleads for her to stay with him rather than go to school and here Leela is the one that gives in and says ‘poor father let him come too’, suggesting that is now Krishna that needs Leela. This need for Leela is further emphasized by ‘My one purpose was to see that she did not feel the absence of her mother’ rather than Susila death being a disappointment, it appears more of an opportunity for him to become a better father.


However, Narayan does include more than one disappointment as he builds up Krishna’s admiration of the Headmaster by ‘I liked him’ but then demonstrates Krishna’s disappointment when he sees the Headmaster’s attitude towards his own children. This is conveyed when the Headmaster shows a lack of care for his children as he says that they could be in ‘the gutter’ as he ‘has no control over them’, which seems harsh and bitter as he shows so much respect to children in his own school describing them as ‘the real gods on Earth’. Krishna obviously disagrees as he loves Leela very much and is a proud father. Another disappointment of the Headmaster is when he speaks of his death and refuses to go see his family one last time as he says that ‘on second thought I don’t they deserved it’, which is brutal as the Headmaster feels that he owes them nothing and ‘could live as a bachelor’.


Although there are clearly multiple disappointments, the Headmaster is part of something more important, as Krishna has more than one teacher and it is more important that Krishna build up his own beliefs. HE does not agree that death is nothing but ‘a full stop’ as seeing Susila is much more important. Susila’s death has made Susila stronger and a wiser character, as she is one of the most important teachers in teaching him that ‘between thought and fulfillment there is no interval’.


On the other hand Brown learning nothing is also a disappointment to use the reader as Krishna ‘was too disturbed to look up’ as he sees that they have not understood what Krishna’s resignation really meant and Krishna still does not understand why he is ‘a sudden hero’, demonstrating that the only one to really learn the real importance of life is Krishna.


Despite Krishna being only the person the really learn, disappointment is what pushes Krishna along his journey to fulfillment, as the Medium’s absence seem to return Krishna to his routing of keeping ‘[his] tongue active’ and unhappiness. However to say that this story is about disappointment does not seem true, as the story is about Krishna’s journey and the disappointments are a mere part of it. The story is about Krishna understanding ‘the other side of the medal of existence’ which is ‘death’. Although it is ‘medal’ and precious Krishna does discover that there are two sides that have to exist. Most importantly the disappointment Krishna encounters are what allows him to reach fulfillment by the end of the novel he does have a ‘belief in [Susila’s] presence’ and is able to transform his mint to a ‘chamber of fragrance’ that suggest he is calm and is genuinely happy and has a ‘moment in which one feels grateful for Life and Death’.