Get summary, workbook solutions, questions, answers, notes. pdf, extras to the story “Atithi” or “Guest” by Rabindranath Tagore which is a part of Class 12 English syllabus for students studying under ISC.
The story begins when a 15-16 year old fair-skinned, handsome teenage boy named Tarapada approaches Motilal Babu to request a lift on his boat. Motilal Babu is a wealthy landlord travelling on the boat with his wife Annapurna and 9-year old daughter Charushashi to his village Kanthalia where he is the zamindar.
Tarapada wants a lift to Nandigram. Motilal gladly allows him on board and even offers him lunch. On the journey, Annapurna questions Tarapada about his background. He reveals that despite being the darling of his family and villagers, he left home at a young age. He has a restless spirit and has joined and left various groups like a theatre troupe, panchali singers and acrobatic troupe, not staying at one place for long.
On the boat, Tarapada easily befriends the boatmen and helps with chores like cooking, rowing and steering the boat. One evening he impresses Motilal and Annapurna by enacting the story of Kush and Lav with songs on his flute. However, their temperamental daughter Charushashi feels jealous seeing her parent’s affection for Tarapada.
The boat reaches Kanthalia where Motilal is welcomed by the villagers. Tarapada charms them too, except Charushashi. She feels jealous when she learns her friend Sonamoni is already familiar with Tarapada. In anger, she destroys Tarapada’s flute but he remains unperturbed by her tantrums.
Impressed by Tarapada, Motilal and Annapurna decide to marry him to Charushashi to temper her wild nature. As wedding preparations begin, Tarapada starts learning English using Motilal’s books. Charushashi disturbs his studies and they share a love-hate relationship. Finally, on the wedding day, just as Tarapada’s family arrives, he mysteriously disappears, giving in to his eternal wanderlust once again.
In summary, the conflict between domesticity and quest for freedom is depicted through the charming yet detached Tarapada, who remains an elusive guest, leaving just before he is tied down by marriage. His restless spirit and wanderlust prevail despite people’s affection.
Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs)
1. Where did Tarapada first meet Motilal Babu?
A. at his mansion B. at a restaurant C. by the riverside market D. in a boat
Answer: C. by the riverside market
ii. Which party did Tarapada go with first of all?
A. with gymnasts B. with a panchali-singers C. with a touring-jatra troupe D. none of the above
Answer: C. with a touring-jatra troupe
iii. What age was Charushashi when Tarapada met her?
A. 7 B. 9 C. 11 D. 8
Answer: B. 9
iv. Tarapada would leave his home again and again to:
A. meet his old friends B. explore the outside world C. have his free will D. meet his lady love
Answer: B. explore the outside world
v. In the company of the gymnasts Tarapada learnt:
A. beating drum B. acrobatics C. playing guitar D. playing on flute
Answer: D. playing on flute
vi. How did Tarapada answer searching questions of Annapurna?
A. satisfactorily B. half-heartedly C. laconically D. willingly
Answer: C. laconically
vii. What kind of girl was Charushashi?
A. adorable B. jealous C. kind-hearted D. caring and compassionate
Answer: B. jealous
viii. Tarapada’s parents were:
A. very poor B. rich C. haughty D. high caste and poor
Answer: A. very poor
ix. At what age was Charushashi planned to be married?
A. 9 B. 10 C. 16 D. 11
Answer: D. 11
x. About Tarapada Charushashi’s attitude was:
A. infatuation B. possessiveness C. hatred D. envy
Answer: D. envy
1. Tarapada approached Motilal Babu because
Answer: he wanted a lift up to Nandigram which the boat would be passing.
2. Tarapada began to help Motilal in cooking fish because
Answer: he had easy ways and immediately joined in the cooking to help out.
3. Annapurna asked many questions to Tarapada because
Answer: she was trying to extract some information about his background.
4. Tarapada left his family because
Answer: he had an inborn urge to break out of bonds, even bonds of affection.
5. Tarapada could not stay longer with any troupe because
Answer: he was wary of ties and had a restless spirit, constantly seeking new experiences.
6. Tarapada was liked by Motilal because
Answer: of his large eyes, pleasant look, and the innocence in his appearance.
7. Tarapada thought of going to Mawligram because
Answer: the landlord there was setting up a new theatre company.
8. Charushashi threw into swings of moods because
Answer: she was a whimsical and unpredictable girl, often feeling jealous and resentful.
9. Tarapada could adapt to any situation or work because
Answer: he was alert and active, with a good memory and an uncluttered brain.
10. Sonamani did not visit Charushashi for a while because
Answer: she had been ill and unable to visit.
Short Answer Questions
1. Which jatra troupe had Tarapada left before meeting Motilal Babu?
Answer: The gymnastic group. At the gymnastic displays, his job was to play the Banshee or bamboo flute at a fast rhythm, as an accompaniment to the performance of the gymnasts.
2. In spite of being a darling of his family and his neighbourhood, why had Tarapada left them?
Answer: Tarapada had an inherent urge to break out of bonds, even those of affection, which led him to leave his family and neighbourhood.
3. How did Tarapada make the most of his time on the boat?
Answer: Tarapada actively engaged in various activities like helping with cooking, rowing the boat, and entertaining everyone with his singing and flute playing.
4. How did Motilal Babu and his wife treat Tarapada? What did Annapurna want to learn about Tarapada?
Answer: Motilal Babu and his wife treated Tarapada with great affection, almost as a family member. Annapurna was curious about Tarapada’s background, how any mother could stay separated from such a child, and the reasons for his wandering lifestyle.
5. Why did Tarapada seek a lift on the boat in which Motilal Babu was going to his village?
Answer: Tarapada sought a lift on the boat to go to Nandigram, which was on the way to Motilal Babu’s village.
6. What kind of girl was Charushashi? What kind of feelings did she have about Tarapada?
Answer: Charushashi was a whimsical and moody girl. She felt jealousy and resentment towards Tarapada due to the attention he received from her parents.
7. Why did Charushashi smash Tarapada’s flute? What were her feelings afterwards?
Answer: Charushashi smashed Tarapada’s flute out of jealousy and anger. Afterwards, she felt remorse and sought to apologise for her actions.
8. What kind of girl was Sanamani? What kind of relation did she have with Charushashi and Tarapada?
Answer: Sanamani was a child-widow and a friend of Charushashi. She had a friendly and affectionate relationship with Tarapada, calling him ‘Dada’ or elder brother.
9. Why did Motilal Babu and his wife think of marrying their daughter to Tarapada?
Answer: Motilal Babu and his wife thought of marrying their daughter to Tarapada because they found him suitable and believed that marrying their daughter to him would spare him and his wife the pangs of separation from their daughter, and she, any criticism from in-laws.
10. What impelled Tarapada to make his disappearance amidst the marriage festivities?
Answer: Tarapada’s inherent wanderlust and desire for freedom impelled him to disappear amidst the marriage festivities, as he was unable to stay tied down to one place or relationship.
11. Discuss the love-hate relationship of Charushashi and Tarapada
Answer: Charushashi and Tarapada’s relationship is complex, marked by a blend of affection and antagonism. While Charushashi initially resents Tarapada for the attention he receives from her parents, her feelings evolve, indicating a deeper, albeit conflicted, emotional connection. This relationship oscillates between moments of jealousy, anger, and eventual understanding, reflecting the nuanced dynamics of a love-hate relationship where emotions are intense and often contradictory.
Long Answer Questions
1. Discuss the suitability of the title of the story.
Answer: The title “Atithi” (The Guest) is profoundly suitable for the story. It encapsulates the essence of the protagonist, Tarapada, a teenager imbued with wanderlust and a transient existence. Just as a guest is not a permanent member of a household but a temporary visitor, Tarapada, too, never stays long in any place or forms lasting attachments.
His character symbolises the fleeting nature of human connections and the ephemeral quality of life. Throughout the story, Tarapada’s interactions and relationships are transient, reinforcing the idea of him being a guest in every setting he enters. This nomadic lifestyle and detachment from worldly affairs highlight the transient nature of human existence, making the title apt and reflective of the story’s central theme.
2. What made Tarapada an almost ascetic who was totally detached from worldly affairs? Discuss.
Answer: Tarapada’s detachment from worldly affairs and his ascetic-like demeanour stem from his innate restlessness and desire for freedom. From a young age, Tarapada exhibits a unique disinterest in materialistic and familial bonds, instead drawn irresistibly towards exploration and wanderlust. This detachment is not due to disenchantment or negative experiences; rather, it seems to be an intrinsic part of his nature.
His repeated departures from his family, despite their love and affection, and his unwillingness to settle down or adhere to societal norms, suggest a deep-seated yearning for something beyond the ordinary experiences of domestic life. Tarapada’s disposition towards life is almost spiritual, seeking a deeper understanding or experience that cannot be found in conventional living. This spiritual quest and his pursuit of freedom and new experiences lend him an ascetic quality, making him detached from regular worldly affairs.
3. What makes this story interesting?
Answer: The story “Atithi” captivates interest through its exploration of human nature, the concept of freedom, and the pursuit of a meaningful life. The protagonist, Tarapada, with his enigmatic personality and nonconformist lifestyle, serves as a focal point of intrigue. His refusal to adhere to societal norms and his constant quest for new experiences challenge conventional perspectives on life and relationships.
The narrative’s rich emotional tapestry, encompassing love, jealousy, wanderlust, and detachment, adds depth and complexity to the characters and their interactions. The story’s underlying themes, such as the conflict between individual desires and societal expectations, and the transient nature of human connections, resonate universally, making it a compelling read. Moreover, Rabindranath Tagore’s evocative writing style, with its poetic prose and vivid imagery, brings the characters and their emotions to life, creating an immersive and thought-provoking experience for the reader.
4. Do the different jatras undertaken by Tarapada symbolise something? Elaborate.
Answer: The different journeys and groups that Tarapada joins like the theatre troupe, acrobats, and panchali singers can be seen as symbolising his quest to explore and experience life.
The theatre troupe represents Tarapada’s desire to observe and understand the human drama or stories that constitute life. The acrobats symbolise the thirst for adventure and honing one’s talents. Joining the panchali singers reflects Tarapada’s artistic spirit and love for music.
Each jatra allows Tarapada to gain something significant – whether understanding of human psychology, mastery over the physical self, or nurturing of his creative side. Through these experiences, the ever-curious Tarapada accumulates knowledge about the world and different facets of life.
His joining and leaving each troupe depicts the transient nature of life’s stations. It shows Tarapada’s belief that there is always more to learn and see, which propels him to keep seeking new adventures. His journey reflects the human quest for meaning which often requires exploring many different paths.
5. Does the restlessness of the youth convey any significance? Do you think Tarapada is doing right by not staying long at one place.
Answer: The restlessness and wanderlust depicted in Tarapada’s character conveys the significance of the eternal human yearning for freedom, exploration and experience. His inability to settle in one place for long shows his quest for meaning and adventure in life.
On one hand, Tarapada’s detachment allows him to experience life fully and not be tied down by mundane responsibilities. However, it also prevents him from forming deep relationships and commitments. Moderation between responsibilities and freedom is perhaps ideal. So while Tarapada’s restless spirit is understandable, staying a little longer in positive situations could have brought more enrichment too. But ultimately, Tarapada follows his unique calling, which cannot be judged as fully right or wrong. His life choices reflect an intrinsic human paradox.
1. How old was Tarapada when he first met Motilal Babu?
A. About 12
B. About 15 or 16
C. About 18
D. About 20
Answer: B. About 15 or 16
2. What was Tarapada’s main characteristic that defined his behavior?
Answer: B. Wanderlust
18. What did Tarapada’s family think of the marriage proposal from Motilal Babu’s family?
A. They were hesitant
B. They were excited
C. They refused it
D. They didn’t respond
Answer: B. They were excited
19. How did the story “Atithi” end with regard to Tarapada’s character?
A. He settled down in the village
B. He left the village suddenly
C. He married Charushashi
D. He became a teacher
Answer: B. He left the village suddenly
Extra questions and answers
1. Where was Motilal Babu travelling to?
Answer: Motilal Babu was travelling along the river with his family to Kanthalia, a place in rural Bengal of which he was the zamindar or landlord.
2. Who is the protagonist in the story? Where did he want to go?
Answer: The protagonist is Tarapada, a teenage boy around 15 or 16 years old. He is described as handsome and alluring, with a restless spirit. He wanted to go to Nandigram.
28. How does Tarapada’s restless spirit shape the events of the story?
Answer: Tarapada’s restless wandering spirit drives the events of the story, from his constantly leaving behind situations and people, to his disappearance at the end. His inability to settle propels him from a theatre troupe, to musicians, to acrobats, then onto Motilal Babu’s family. Though they care for him, his wanderlust prevails. His search for meaning out in the world ultimately leads him to disappear right before marrying Charushashi. His inner spirit determines his path.
29. Compare and contrast the personalities of Charushashi and Tarapada. How do they foil each other?
Answer: Charushashi and Tarapada have clashing personalities that highlight their differences. Charushashi is moody, possessive, and quick to outbursts of emotion. She becomes irrationally jealous of the attention Tarapada receives. In contrast, Tarapada remains detached and calm in the face of her tantrums. His placid, philosophical nature balances her volatility. His focus is internal while she fixates on external validation. Their differing approaches to life foil one another.
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