Summary and Analysis of Father Returning Home by Dilip Chitre

Dilip Purushottam Chitre was one of the foremost Indian writers and critics of the post Independence India. Apart from a being a writer, he was also a painter and a filmmaker. He graduated from the University of Bombay in 1959. He won the Sahitya Akademi Award (1994) for his Marathi book of poems Ekun Kavita. Father Returning Home is a short and appealing poem about an old man in a cosmopolitan city where his own sons and daughters treat him as an alien. He himself is estranged from the man-made world. Through this poem, Chitre has denounced the urban rootlessness and alienation.

Summary and Analysis of Father Returning Home by Dilip Chitre

Stanza 1: The first stanza of Father Returning Home describes the train journey of his father while returning home one evening. The father stands among commuters in the yellow light of a local compartment. The poet describes his father’s reaction against the sights of the suburbs that pass by. His father remains unmoved by the sights because they are too familiar to him. That is quite normal, isn’t it? We hardly pay attention to those places where we travel every day, unless the place has something interesting to offer. Same was with the poet’s father.

The poet then describes his father’s pathetic condition, as he travels during the rainy season. His clothes become damp and dirty. The black raincoat that he wears becomes stained with mud. His bag crumbles with the heavy load of the books.Due to old age, the poet’s father’s eyesight has become poor and therefore he finds difficulty to move about in the dark.


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The poet says that he can see his father getting down the train ‘like a word dropped from a long sentence.’ The sentence is highly unique and it provides an evocative image of an old man who gets down from the train as if he is no longer relevant to it. The poet then sees his father hurrying through the long, grey platform.

The man seems to be as old as the platform, who has been using it as a part of his routine. He crosses the railway tracks and hurries home through muddy lanes on a rainy day. This is indicated by his chappals which are sticky with mud. This stanza portrays the monotonousness of the old man, who sustains the vagaries of weather as well as the estrangement from the man-made.

Stanza 2: The second stanza, the poet represents the alienation of his father that he experiences in his own dwelling. The poet tells us that his father drinks a weak tea and eats a stale chapatti when he comes back home. This shows that the even his basic requirements are not properly carried out by his family. A sense of pity for the poet’s father arises in us, what do you think?

The father is then seen going into a contemplative mood after reading some kind of a philosophical book. He goes to the toilet and contemplates over man’s alienation from the man-made world. This exhibits that the man is visibly upset with his predicament. He is terribly shaken when he comes out of the toilet and trembles while he washes his hands at the wash basin. It seems that he trembled not only because of the cold water but also due to the thoughts that came into his mind while he was thinking in the toilet.
The father finds himself all alone in his room as he is written off by his children.

The children do not interact with their father; they do not share their joys or sorrows with him. To compensate their company, the father listens to the radio. Then he goes to sleep. In his sleep, he dreams about his ancestors and grandchildren.

It seems that he is trying to communicate with his ancestors who had entered the subcontinent through the Khyber Pass in the Himalayas in the past. The dream mirrors that the old man is either thinking about his past (his ancestors) or his future (his grandchildren). It is a kind of relief to him from his mundane routine, devoid of any human contact.


Have you ever felt so alienated like this old man in Father Returning Home?

Theme: The poem, Father Returning Home focuses on the theme of alienation or estrangement experienced by the aged in their twilight years. Dilip Chitre talks about his own father and through the poem, we get to know the alienation, isolation and misery experienced by elderly people, especially in cities.

Style: Dilip Chitre’s poetry follows the tradition of dramatic monologue. In the poem Father Returning Home, the poet talks about his father’s loneliness and alienation from the man-made world. He has brought out the emotions of his father, who is isolated from his family as well as from the outside world. He has painted the mundane and fatiguing routine of his father in order to highlight the darkness and misery lurking inside his father’s soul.

Imagery in the poem: The poet uses some fine imagery to describe the lurking loneliness in the man’s soul as he travels in the local train. To convey the ‘twilight atmosphere’ the poet has used a number of descriptive words in the poem, like evening train, yellow light, unseeing eyes, his eyes dimmed by age, fade homeward and gray platform.

An example of imagery is found in the following lines describing the father’s routine of travelling by a local train,-

“My father travels on the late evening train
Standing among silent commuters in the yellow light
Suburbs slide past his unseeing eyes
His shirt and pants are soggy and his black raincoat
Stained with mud and his bag stuffed with books
Is falling apart.”

In the above mentioned lines, the pathos of an old father, returning to his mundane home late in the evening, is highlighted. A wonderful image is used to describe poet’s father getting down the train. The poet says that he can see his father getting down the train ‘like a word dropped from a long sentence.’ The sentence is highly unique and it provides an evocative image of an old man who gets down from the train as if he is no longer relevant to it. This imagery is used to depict the monotonousness and meaninglessness in the father’s life.

The imagery of dream has been used to show the connection the poet’s father has with his past and his future. He dreams about his ancestors and his grandchildren. Thus, it signifies his feelings that he has suppressed in himself and cannot express openly.

Therefore, we can conclude that the poem Father Returning Home is autobiographical in nature. The poem draws a picture of the poet’s father. He speaks about the loneliness that his father goes through in his everyday life. Don’t be a silent reader, a thought or two would be appreciated.

Go through the Solved Questions

How does Dilip Chitre describe his father’s train journey in ‘Father Returning Home’?

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Trisha

I have done my M.A in English andI love reading good books and sharing knowledge with others. Thanks for appreciating.

34 Comments
  1. Reply
    Aniq Urrahman Al-Shamsi December 2, 2014 at 10:41 am

    Thanks!

  2. Reply
    Maitreyi Ray February 28, 2015 at 12:31 pm

    Thanks!It was of great help. Another point I would like to put in is that the father finds it difficult to connect with the present fast and individualist ways of life such as those of his children who refuse to share their world with him.That is why he goes to sleep dreaming of his ancestors(past) and his grandchildren(future) and hopes to connect with them, as he hears the radio where an invisible and only voice speaks to him.

    • Reply
      Lerato April 28, 2016 at 6:46 pm

      Thank you so much. This really helped me.

    • Reply
      Lay September 20, 2015 at 3:35 am

      Great Help! And another point. The poverty of the family is depicted from the father eating Stale chappati and drinking weak tea…
      Hope it Helps.

      • Reply
        Madhvendra September 19, 2016 at 5:21 pm

        it does not show the poverty of the family but it shows that father is not taken care of (as he is the only bread earner of the family) and thenalso he us not give any care by the family members. The stale word means not fresh.

        • advait February 7, 2017 at 5:05 am

          it also shows the fact that the father has no zest in life with the phrases ‘weak tea’ and ‘stale chappatis’ .

  3. Reply
    Maryanne D'mello June 3, 2015 at 11:41 am

    Could it be possible that the father is ignored by his children because of his lack to adapt to the 21st century world?

  4. Reply
    dr.Shaihk Ajaz Perveen July 25, 2015 at 6:56 am

    father being the part of past generation thinks to be ignored by children but it is not so. there is generation gap between the two hence psychological differences,

    • Reply
      dr.Shaikh ajaz Perveen July 25, 2015 at 6:59 am

      thanks

  5. Reply
    dr.Shaikh ajaz Perveen July 25, 2015 at 7:00 am

    thanks

  6. Reply
    Ranish Kromodoyo November 20, 2015 at 12:55 pm

    Thanks a lot! Another point: The poem says,”A few droplets cling to the greying hairs on his wrists.” Since water is a symbol of life and ‘greying hairs’ is a symbol of old age, we can interpret that his life is barely hanging on to his old age. Hope It Helped!:D

    • Reply
      debraj das April 17, 2016 at 10:53 am

      Brilliant interpretation!

  7. Reply
    clifford baglari December 7, 2015 at 4:01 pm

    Oh yeah thats what I want..

  8. Reply
    satyajeet January 4, 2016 at 4:26 am

    Thanks a lotz. Whoever made this site. I m extremely thankful to them becoz I was in delama of how to complete my poem but u made me complete all of them….. tnks once again

  9. Reply
    Tulip Ahmed January 17, 2016 at 11:38 pm

    it was realy helpfull. thankyou a lot

  10. Reply
    Pavan George Maxim January 20, 2016 at 1:59 am

    Thank you!

  11. Reply
    AVIKASH January 24, 2016 at 6:21 am

    This notes was extremely helpful i got good score in the exam thanks a lot for helping us

    • Reply
      dilpreet kang February 19, 2016 at 6:59 pm

      Plz can u give me explanation of poem cheerfulness taught by reason the same way ?it’s really urgent.

  12. Reply
    Pavan George Maxim February 29, 2016 at 1:14 am

    Thanks a lot!

  13. Reply
    Tatenda Chachoka June 20, 2016 at 10:04 am

    Thanks a lot! Here’s another point: The repetition of the word ‘hurries’ as he is going home emphasises the fact that he is rushing there. He goes into the toilet to contemplate… After the struggle of getting home, is the toilet his only refuge??

  14. Reply
    sohini June 28, 2016 at 6:03 am

    Can you please explain me elaborately the phrase ‘..getting off the train Like a word dropped from a long sentence ‘ ?

    • Reply
      Madhvendra September 19, 2016 at 5:36 pm

      It again shows the alienation of the father and as we remove a word ( a word which is not important) from the sentence it is not going to effectthe meaning of the scentence in the same way father is shown that he is not important for the crowd.

  15. Reply
    Nishath shariff August 11, 2016 at 2:36 am

    It’s a great help to my students as it is quite simple and communicative n effective too

  16. Reply
    Akanksha awasthi August 27, 2016 at 3:14 pm

    It was really very helpful to me. Thanks

  17. Reply
    grace September 8, 2016 at 11:51 am

    i really like the poem

  18. Reply
    Abhishek nandi September 25, 2016 at 3:28 pm

    The notes are really helpful

  19. Reply
    Athul R K V November 20, 2016 at 7:02 am

    can u please say about the emotions present in each line?

  20. Reply
    Sukhdev Singh February 3, 2017 at 9:32 am

    The poem will help students a lot and they can easily comprehend the meanings and the central idea of this poem that touches the heart of old parents and grandparents.

  21. Reply
    AEGEAN February 12, 2017 at 11:07 am

    The structure of the stanzas does not look like attractive. It looks just too simple and also there are no charming rhymes in the poem. Structure of the poem is similiar with the life of father.

  22. Reply
    Samar February 27, 2017 at 9:43 am

    Helped me alot thank u

  23. Reply
    Hiran February 28, 2017 at 12:47 pm

    Hi everyone . i went through a few of ur interpretations and they of great help .
    I have an interpretation to the part where he speaks about the aryans . I feel , maybe he means that he is not accepted in the society even though he is an insider but the aryans being outsiders could find a place for themselves( as in accepted by society ) wen they entered the sub continent , maybe

  24. Reply
    Carol March 2, 2017 at 12:55 am

    Hi! In the notes above it is mentioned that this is a dramatic monologue. What makes you say this? I feel it is a rather detatched and objective account of his father’s routine when coming home. The reader may infer the persona’s feeling through the choice if words, but the way he actually feels is never openly stated.
    I would also like to point out that the fact that the poem does not follow a rhyming patters and even has some run-on-lines makes this account even more real – as if he were describing it to someone else. Do you agree? I suppose this is what makes it a monologue, but why dramatic?

  25. Reply
    Amna May 19, 2017 at 1:58 pm

    Chitre would never himself desire an old age similar to his father’s.

  26. Reply
    Suyash September 12, 2017 at 5:50 pm

    Helped me a lot! Thanks

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