Throughout history, myths and stories have been around to help define the way that people and things react with one another in certain situations. These relations create patterns that help to explain why people do similar actions to those of faraway lands that have a completely different lifestyle. These are represented through many stories throughout cultures all across the world. These patterns that we develop are called archetypes. An archetype is defined as “a typical character, an action or a situation that seems to represent such universal patterns of human nature” (Taylor 3).
According to the psychologist Carl Jung, mankind possesses a “collective unconscious” that contains these archetypes and these are common to all of humanity. Archetypal representations can come in the form of literature or art. The purpose of using archetypal characters in written work helps the readers to identify with the characters. This strategy gives realism to the written work as the characters and story lines are devised to be parallel to real life stories and experiences. It makes the story seem real and culturally correct.
In the novel, The Hero’s Walk, by Anita Rau Badami, the archetypes of the mother, the villain and the wise old man can be seen within the characters. The first archetype that reoccurs throughout the novel is the mother archetype. After Maya’s passing, Nirmala took it upon herself to take care of Nandana and became the mother figure in Nandana’s life. Nirmala was the one person in the novel that was constantly worried about where Nandana was or what she was doing at all moments. The mother archetype is thought of as the person primarily responsible for taking care of children and protects them from injury or evil.
Nirmala depicts this archetype because she cares for Nandana the same way that any mother would, by nourishing and helping their children. An example of Nirmala portraying this archetype can be seen when she gives Nandana a bath every morning. The Narrator says, “Mamma Lady had finished giving Nandana a bath and left her to get into her uniform” (Badami 183). In Canada, young children for the most part can shower without anyone else’s help. However, in India, most kids are given baths by their mothers up until their teen years and since Nirmala is used to Indian custom, she scrubs Nandana every morning.
Nandana is surprised to see that Nirmala is giving her a shower because she was raised in Canada and learned how to shower by herself at a young age. Nandana later realizes that this is how Indian mothers take care of their children. Nirmala takes the time out her day, every day, and dedicates it to showering Nandana because that’s what mothers in India do for their child. Another example of Nirmala acting as the mother archetype can be seen when she advises Nandana to stay away from strangers by saying, “Never accept anything from someone you do not know” (29).
Nirmala does not want to see this child be kidnapped or taken because she cares very much about her since she is her granddaughter after all. The mother archetype’s main function is to provide comfort, guidance, advice, and care to their children and this is exactly what Nirmala does for Nandana all throughout the novel. The next archetype that is displayed throughout the novel is the villain archetype. The villain archetype is often associated as the bad guy, selfish, self-centered, determined and powerful. All of these characteristics can also be used to describe Ammayya.
Ammayya is Nandana’s grandmother and Sripathi’s mother. Ammayya’s antics are always evil and sometimes cause trouble in the novel. An example can be seen when Ammayya was home alone so she “tried to plan out her time. Sripathi was still at work, the child was at school and would be back only at quarter past four. Plenty of time to make her way up the stairs to her son’s section of the house and check the cupboards, his desk, the drawers, under the pillows, for letters, cheques, wads of money” (221). At this part of the novel, Ammayya was bored so she became investigative.
She was by herself in the house so she did her routine of going into everyone’s rooms to check whether they have anything that has value. She went into Nandana’s room and took Nandana’s moms red coat, the only memory that Nandana has left of her mother. To take a valuable, young lady’s token of memory of her mom is simply evil. Ammayya is completely mindful about what other people think of her yet; once in a while she puts on a show pretending to be innocent when she really isn’t so that people will believe her.
This is just one of many terrible things that Ammayya does throughout the novel that makes her out to be the villain. Another example of Ammayya acting as a villain can be seen when she prevents her own daughter from having a life of her own. Putti is Ammayya’s daughter and she is forty-two years old and is yet to be married. Ammayya rejected all of the men that Putti has ever liked and keeps Putti from having any friends. Putti says, “Maya told me before she left for America, that she would send me a ticket to visit.
But I knew it would never happen… My fate lies within the walls of this house. ” (179). This quotes shows that Putti is disappointed because Maya told her that she would send her a ticket to visit, but that had never happened. Putti truly believes that she is destined to stay in Big house forever and this is another reason that helps to support her argument. It is clear that as you read the novel Ammayya is keeping Putti at home because if Putti leaves, no one else will be able to take care of her.
This just goes to show that Ammayya is purely evil because she gives up her own daughter’s happiness just so that she can be happy. Ammayya uses her tricks and techniques to hurt the other characters in the novel and this is why she is considered in the villain. e wise man is the character in the novel who has a lot of knowledge and wisdom, according to Carl Jung. They often offer advice to help the main character with an issue. In The Hero’s Walk, the wise man is Raju, Sripathi’s best friend. In chapter 7, Sripathi visits Raju to get some advice.
This alone can already prove that Raju is the wise man because often in novels characters go to the smartest person that they know to get some advice. The narrator proves that Raju is smart by describing how Raju was super smart and got the grades that he wanted without even trying. To prove this point, the narrator says, “When Father Gonsalves conducted a surprise quiz in geography, Raju managed to score better than anyone else in the class, even though he swore that he’d spent the previous even playing” (119).
The tone that is being used by the narrator in this quote slightly implies that Sripathi is jealous of Raju. Ever since Sripathi was born, all that his parents wanted of him was for him to become a doctor but he knew deep down inside that that wasn’t what he wanted to do. Raju is wise because he got good grades and other people, such as Sripathi, were jealous as he got these high marks without putting forth any effort whatsoever. The wise man also has a lot of wisdom which means that they have good judgement to offer advice.
Sripathi visits Raju to ask if he believes that it is Sripathi’s fault that Maya had died. Raju explains to Sripathi that he knew he should have called or kept in touch with his daughter to end the argument that they had and that he should have been more supportive of Maya’s choices. Raju then adds, “What is the use thinking about all that now? It is over and done with. Too late to dissect and examine” (125). This quotes shows Raju telling Sripathi to move on from the past and that there is nothing that one can change about the past but he should now look forward to the future.
Raju giving advice to Sripathi is exactly what the archetype of a wise old man does. He guides Sripathi in the right direction and tells him not to waste the rest of his life dwelling on the mistakes that he has made. Sripathi confides in his best friend to give him the answers to the questions that he has. This archetype is characterized by being an old, bearded, fatherfigure type who uses his great personal knowledge of the world to offer guidance through stories and all of these qualities can also be used describe the character, Raju, in this novel.
The Hero’s walk includes the use of many literary theory’s, however one that is very significant throughout the novel is the archetypal theory. The three main archetypes that were notable throughout the novel were the mother archetype who was represented by Nirmala; the villain which was portrayed by Ammayya; and Raju as the wise old man. Anita Rau Badami’s novel uses the horrible effects of death and what it does to a family to reveal the character’s flaws and weaknesses. While reading this novel many emotions and feelings are discovered through the usage of archetypes.
When an author uses the archetypal approach, he or she selects a universal theme through which to tell their story. Loss and Grief is an underlying universal theme in this novel. This theme is shown as the family learns how to cope with the death of Maya, a very loved daughter, sister, mother and friend. The spark of insight that can come from making a connection between characters in this novel to the archetypes ultimately helps the reader find the essential truth about certain matters in the novel.
Using an archetypal approach to literature means that there is a collection of symbols, images, characters, and motifs that evokes basically the same response in all people. To conclude, archetypes are important in this novel because they help to explain why characters have certain traits and it also helps to understand the text better. If the reader applies their knowledge of archetypes while reading the novel, it will definitely help to make the text more understandable and it will also make it a more enjoyable read.