Iswaran the Storyteller: Summary

Iswaran is a story about a junior supervisor, Mahendra, and his cook Iswaran. Once, Iswaran tells his master a ghost story. Things take an unexpected turn.

Iswaran the Storyteller Summary

Iswaran the Storyteller, by R.K.Narayan, is an interesting story about Mahendra, a bachelor and junior supervisor in a firm who lived with his cook, Iswaran. Mahendra’s job was transferable, according to the orders from the head office. So, Iswaran accompanied him everywhere he went. He took utmost care of his master and shared interesting stories with him.

Iswaran bought fresh vegetables and cooked delicious meals for Mahendra. When Mahendra was away at work, Iswaran would clean the house, wash utensils, and took baths leisurely. He liked reading famous Tamil thrillers in his free time. So, he often created his thrillers and narrated these stories to Mahendra when he returned home. Mahendra enjoyed listening to the stories and was awestruck by them every time. Once, he narrated a story of a wild elephant and the manner in which he controlled the animal, who was menacing as he had gone mad.

Iswaran told Mahendra that he is from a place known for timber and had seen logs of wood being carried by elephants. The animals were fed a lot of food, but when they became wide, they could not be controlled by the most experienced mahout too. One day, an elephant entered the school premises where children were playing and broke through a brick wall. The children and teachers were scared of the wild animal and rushed to a secure place to save themselves. When the elephant saw Iswaran, it lifted its trunk and ran towards him. Iswaran mustered all the force and courage and whacked his third toenail. This caused the elephant to shiver from head to foot and collapse. Mahendra was shocked by his cook’s courage.

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One day, Iswaran prepared a special dinner on some auspicious day. He told his master that the reason for special delicacies is to feed the spirits of their ancestors. Mahendra enjoyed the meal and complimented Iswaran’s culinary skills. Iswaran started with his story and talked about supernatural elements. He said that ghosts did not scare him because he was brave enough to deal with them.

Iswaran said that the place they currently live in was a burial ground, and he had witnessed ghosts around. He specifically spoke about a gruesome ghost of a woman who appeared on and off at midnight during the full moon’s night. She moaned in a shrill tone and carried a fetus in her arms. Mahendra was very scared after hearing this and shivered at the description. He further scolded his cook and said that ghosts do not exist. Soon, he went to bed but could not sleep because of the story, and the woman was hovering in his mind.

Since then, Mahendra slept uneasily because he thought about the female ghost. One night, when Mahendra was sleeping, he was woken up by the low moaning sound that came from the window. He looked outside and saw the night sky, the moonshining, and a dark-cloud-shaped structure, clutching a bundle. Mahendra started to sweat profusely and fell on his pillow. Iswaran asked him about the moaning sound coming from his room the next morning. A chill ran down Mahendra’s spine, and he left the haunted house immediately.

Iswaran the Storyteller Analysis

Mahendra was a bachelor and junior supervisor in a firm. He had a cook, Iswaran, who did all the household chores and was a good storyteller. He was imaginative, and his stories were generally full of surprises and thrill. He narrated everything with utmost detail. Mahendra enjoyed these stories and believed in them. He was told a story of a mad tusker, that entered a school. Iswaran, then a student, supposedly controlled the elephant. Mahendra thought that his cook was very courageous. 

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Iswaran told tales of his encounters with ghosts, because of which Mahendra called him crazy and tried to convince him that ghosts did not exist. But Mahendra was scared now. Once, he was woken up by low moans close to his window, and he saw a ghost. He started to sweat and fell on his pillow. The next morning, Iswaran inquired about the sounds. Mahendra got really scared and left the house. 

Iswaran the Storyteller Theme

The story by R.K.Narayan draws up a picture of one who believes in supernatural elements and is very gullible towards his beliefs and one who talks about these. It illustrates that one should never get carried away by the tales one tells or assume the reality through those. It is necessary to apply one’s own wit and intelligence before we jump to conclusions. No one must quickly believe in whatever they hear because lies spread faster than truth.

Iswaran the Storyteller Character Sketch

Mahendra was a simple bachelor. He worked as a junior supervisor in a firm. His work required him to move from one place to another. He was very accommodating and would adjust to the odd conditions. He was a rational man who did not believe in spirits and ghosts but was easily influenced by Iswaran’s tales. He was gullible to think that all of the stories were true. He was patient and a good listener. He would never interrupt Iswaran’s stories and listened to them carefully.

Iswaran was Mahendra’s cook. He was dedicated to Mahendra and did all the household chores. He liked reading Tamil thrillers. He was a master storyteller and would add suspense to the smallest incidents. He would narrate stories to his master every day would get very involved in them. He would expand on his descriptions and put it together really well. He would keep him audience on their toes, and break down the suspense. His narration and diction would capture Mahendra’s attention and convince him.

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Iswaran the Storyteller Analysis Key Points

The story is about a cook and master duo. The cook loves to read thrillers and narrate stories while the master enjoys listening to them. One day the master is told a tale of horror, and he believes in it. He starts to believe in ghosts and witnesses one.