The era in which Norah Burke was born in was an interesting period of evolution in the history of English Literature. The British Raj was busy negotiating and expanding its rule in India and there was a great influx of English people in the country. It was alluring and exciting for the English people as the ways of life here was so very different from their traditions and culture. The author and her family resided in the rural foothills of the Himalaya which was a very exotic location and subject for many of her international readers. So many of them were reading about the jungles of India for the very first time and this curiosity made Burke a popular and famous writer.
The story The Blue Bead is also based on the life of a brave little Indian girl and the setting of the story plays a vital role in the narrative. The author initiates the story with an acutely descriptive picture of the wilderness. The beauty and the freshness of nature contrast the fiercely devious animals that lurk in the rivers to prey upon the unsuspecting victims. Despite the many adversities present in the environment, the people of the valley lead extremely simple lives with very basic wants and desires.
The girl Sibia who is the leading character of the story also has such single-minded wishes which she wants to fulfil without much thought or worry about anything else. The blue bead at the end of the story meant so much to her that the incident that preceded the finding of the bead completely vanished from her mind. Saving the Gujjar woman from the deadly clutches of the crocodile seemed like only a mildly engaging part of her day, the highlight of which was of course the discovery of the pretty bead for her.
The Blue Bead Themes
The writer cleverly adapts colloquial language styles and mannerisms in her writing to create the right scenario for the story. We can at once relate with the simplicity of the characters and also be awed at the brave and risky lives they lead in the hills. Nature is both the forbearer and the giver but also the destroyer. They sustain due to the gifts of the nature but their lives are also threatened by the darks side of nature. The author skilfully plays with these ideas in the story and certain literary critics agree that it qualifies as the main theme of the story.
The theme of bravery in times of adversity has also been depicted in this short story. Most people in the face of danger lose their common sense and conscience. Any fearful person would have run away or called for help in such situations but the child Sibia took charge and made an instantaneous decision of pulling the woman out of the crocodile’s clench herself. She did any waste any time deliberating what to do or not to do. She did not even care for her own safety at the moment and rushed to the woman’s aid without any fear. Despite the complexity of the situation, Sibia seemed unbothered and went back to the deadly waters to find her prize, which was the blue bead.
The Blue Bead Analysis: Character Sketch
The story revolves around the character of a little girl named Sibia and the focus of the story entirely rests upon her. Nevertheless the author introduces a myriad of characters in the plot to make the setting more conventional. The role of the girl was pivotal when it came to saving the woman from the animal. It underlined the base morale of the story and also gave the readers deep insight into the psychology of the young child. She was the daughter of the mountains, untamed by the wild jungles and she managed to handle crisis without any hesitation or fear. Her presence of mind was exemplary and she sprang into action the minute her mind registered the situation. The character’s simplicity and child-like innocence contradict her brave personality. There is a lesson to be learnt from the little girl’s humility as she acted no less than a hero and wished for nothing from the woman and her family in return. She still pinned for her sparkling beads so she was rewarded for her courage when she went back to collect her things.
The story has an important message of perseverance. It relates the tale of a good and hardworking girl who lives poorly in the rough terrains of North India. Her struggles and victories reminds us of all the things we have and it gives hope to people who are battling with similar hardships in life.