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A Devoted Son Summary and Exercises || Compulsory English Grade 12 || Literature-Short Stories

 A Devoted Son  Summary and Exercises || Compulsory English Grade 12 || Literature-Shor Stories

A Devoted Son

Anita Desai

About the Writer

·       Anita Desai originally Anita Mazumdar was born on 24 June 1937, is an Indian novelist, short story writer and children's books writer,
·       She is a biracial child from a German mother and a Bengali father,
·       She knows Hindi, English and German languages,
·       She received her B.A. from the University of Delhi in 1957,
·       She is a mother to a famous writer Kiran Desai
Her famous works are:
·       Cry, the Peacock (1963)
·       Where Shall We Go this summer (1975)
·       Fire on the Mountain (1977)
·       Clear Light of the Day (1980)
·       In Custody (1984)
·       Baumgartner's Bombay (1988)
·       Journey to Ithaca (1995)
·       Feasting, Feasting (1999)
·       Zigzag Way (2004)
Short Stories:
·       Games at Twilight and Other Stories (1978)
·       Diamond Dust and Other Stories (2000)
·       The Village and the Sea (1982)
·       The Artist of Disappearance (2011)
·       Shaitya Academy Award (1978) for Fire on the Mountain
·       Guardian Children's Fiction Prize (1983)
·       Padma Bhushan (2014)
A Devoted Son
·       Extracted from The Complete Short Stories, A Devoted Son, is a realistic story of a middle-class Indian family in a remote village
·       This is a story about a devoted son who has a strong sense of respect and devotion to his parents, culture, norms and values of the typical middle class Indian family however he is the great doctor,
·       Beside the devotion the son shows to his parents, there is also a generation gap, which is an age-old debate
·       Anita Desai is talking about an ordinary Indian life and character and her story links the society and literature,
·       It takes a lot of work and many sacrifices to raise a child and all the efforts finally pay off when a child becomes an adult who is well prepared to live an independent life. This story portrays a son's life long efforts to fulfill his obligations to his parents.



·       Changes of the perceptions of the parents to their children when they are younger and grownup, Old people act like children and they have different opinion to their children but devoted sons never change their attitude to their parents' no matter how old and suborn and troublesome their parents are.  They remain obedient and caring all the time until they die.

·       The cultural and generation gap

·       Reversal of roles with the time when children grow and parents get old,



The whole story of "A Devoted Son" revolved round the central character Rakesh who is presented as a typical Indian devoted son to his parents. He shows his devotion to his father since his childhood till he becomes a great doctor. Rakesh is from a poor Indian village belonging to a middle-class family. He grandfather was a vegetable seller and his father has worked at a kerosene dealer's for more than 40 years. This short story covers a large portion of Rakesh's life time, from his medical study in the USA until his father dies. Rakesh is the first person in his family to receive education. 


Rakesh goes to his father and bows down to touch his feet after getting his result in the morning paper. His position comes in the first in the country. His family makes a celebration at home with singing and dancing. Neighbors visit his house to congratulate the family and Rakesh for his success with different gifts. So much has been sacrificed in order to send him to school and then medical college. The golden fruit of sacrifice has arrived gloriously in the family. Varmaji, the father of Rakesh, becomes so much happy to see him bowing down and touching his feet. Some of neighbors also comment that Varmaji is making his son Rakesh so much proudly.


After some times, he writes a thesis for is M.D., and touches the height of fame and fortune. He wins a scholarship to study in the USA, where he starts his medical career at the most prestigious hospitals. He wins strong praises from his colleagues and loves the USA; however, he returns back to his home after earning enough money and medical experiences. He intends to work in his own home town. Mother also becomes happy with Rakesh because he has not brought a foreign wife as all her neighbors have warned her about that. He becomes ready to marry a girl who is chooses by his mother through she is a plump and uneducated. She is a good girl who takes care of Rakesh and his parents very well. She gives birth to their first baby-a son.


Some years Rakesh works in the city hospital and quickly rises to the position of the director. After that success he leaves the hospital and starts his own clinic. He owns a car Ambassador, the first car manufactured in India. He takes his parents in his car to visit his clinic. The large sign-board with his name printed over the door also grows his fortune. He becomes the best and the richest doctor in town.


Rakesh has spent his whole life to achieve this success. After setting up his own clinic, his father grows old and gets his retirement from the Kerosene dealer where he spent his forty years. His mother dies after suffering from an illness. She dies happily as her son himself took care of her. His miraculously good nature makes him a devoted son, caring husband to his wife and a very good doctor to his patients. He is an excellent doctor and a really find surgeon. Having left by his wife and growing old, his father Varmaji makes so much complaints and fall ill. Varmaji develops an exasperating habit of stretching out suddenly and lying absolutely still and then suddenly sits up, stiff and gaunt and spitting out a big gob of betel-juice. He frequently does so. Same situation happens when there is a birthday party of for the youngest son. No one can take care of him except Rakesh is such a situation.


Every morning Rakesh brings him his morning tea in his father's favorite brass glass. He sits close to his father reading him morning news and, in the evening, returning home from his clinic, he takes his father for a brisk walk in the garden. He sets the pillows and bolsters on the divan in the corner of the open verandah for his comfort. In the summer he manages a bed for his father settling him down for a night under the stars. All these things are gratifying for the old man, but his father doesn't like his son Rakesh supervision on his diet. He doesn't allow his wife to give him Halwa instead he recommends her to give him rice-pudding with little rice and milk. He prevents him having fried, sugary and oily foods.  Varmaji gets angry and hates his son for not giving him to eat what he wants at this age.


The old man is served his food such as dry bread, boiled lentils, boiled vegetables and boiled eggs and chicken on the shining stainless-steel tray twice a day. If the old man demands something more to his daughter in law, When Rakesh hears he denies them. The old man bribes his grand children to buy Jelebis worth 30 paisas from the bazaar giving them 50 paisas instead. When Rakesh knows this, he scolds his father for he is making his son a liar to his parents. He prevents the sweets from the bazaar as they can cause cholera, typhoid and stomach problem. The old man lies down in the corpse position when Rakesh prevents him having food of his own interest.


Only things that pleases the old man is his son reading morning news to him and some neighbors visiting him. Old Bhatia frequently visits the old man. Mr. Bhatia looks happy. He frequently visits Varmaji and talks about family affairs. If Rakesh is at home, he helps his father to come down the steps into the garden and arranges the two old men talk together. Mr. Bhatia is happy to see Rakesh, a doctor at home, to take care of Varmaji. But Varmaji complains about his son for not giving him to eat what he likes. Mr. Bhatia is shocked when he hears that Rakesh is not providing sufficient food stuffs to his father. Varmaji expresses his unhappiness for not getting to have fried fish. His daughter is law denies giving him fried fish because Rakesh orders him not to give anything fried to his father. It is difficult to him to survive without butter, oil or fried foods.


Varmaji is not satisfied with his son becoming heartless and cruel to his father. He has made his son a great doctor but now in his old age, he provides such a miserable diet causing him weak and sick. He has to have lots of pills and powders for blood pressure, digestion, and regular heart beats. Rakesh is fulfilling his duty and taking care of him. But his father becomes angry with Rakesh. He wants to remain alone and wishes to die instead of bearing misbehavior of Rakesh. The relationship between Rakesh and his father gets worse however Rakesh keeps himself devoted to his father's care.


He is taken to the verandah for fresh air. He remains stiff like corpse, terrified and gazing out on the lawn where his grandsons are playing cricket. The sign-board at the gate shines his son's name but Varmaji finds his name vanishing there. His son arrives in his ambassador at his home. He is aided by his servants. But he goes to the place where his father is lying. His father doesn't turn his head towards him. Rakesh calls his father to inform that he is backing home. His father doesn't reply. He brings a new tonic to his father. The old man is having a gob of betel though the supply of it was cut off years ago. His father denies having the tonic and sweeps the bottle out of his son's had. After some times, he dies.




Before Reading

Answer the following questions.

a. Will you be ready to sacrifice your career, status, and economic opportunities for the good of your parents? Why or why not?

Ans: - This is such a difficult question to answer because our career, status and economic opportunities help us provide happiness in our family. But this doesn't mean that our parents are not important. Instead to sacrifice our career, status and economic opportunities, we can make balance between them and take care of our parents. Instead of leaving our parents in a miserable condition in the name of such things, we can take care of them allocating our time to them. If we can't earn money and get success in our career, we can't provide happiness to our parents. A good son is that one who earns money and prestige as well as keeps himself devoted to his/her parents.


b. In your view, what are the qualities of a devoted son/daughter?

Ans: - The word devoted means "very loving or loyal". Here the adjective 'devoted' is given to either son or daughter. It means that devoted son/daughter is the one who is very much loyal, faithful, loving and caring to his/her parents. No doubt a devoted son/daughter is faithful, loyal, committed dedicated to his/her parents. S/he should care his/her parents, should have concerned for their needs and feelings, and should not have any kind of biasness to his /her parents. Fulfillment of the needs of the parents is the primary concern. He or she should not show any kind of contempt towards their parents when they grow old and starts giving troubles. The troubles they give to us is like the troubles small children give to their parents. A devoted son/daughter always sacrifices everything for the happiness of their parents.



Understanding the text

Answer the following questions.

a. How did the morning paper bring an ambience of celebration to the Verma family?

Ans: - The result of Medical Examination, which Rakesh had attended, has just been published in the morning news paper. Rakesh scored the first position in the country in that examination. This news about his exam result published in the newspaper brought an atmosphere of celebration to the Verma family. It was the golden fruit of their sacrifice to make Rakesh attain education for the first line in the family history.


b. How did the community celebrate Rakesh's success?

Ans: - Throughout the day the whole community visited a small yellow house at the end of the road to congratulate the parents of their son's success and to slap him on his back. The house and the garden were full of visitors with different gifts and joyous faces. It was like a great festival.


c. Why was Rakesh's success a special matter of discussion in the neighborhood?

Ans: - The success of Rakesh was a special matter of discussion in the neighborhood because Rakesh was the first son the family to receive and education. He labored hard and fully understood the sacrifices his parents had made to send him to school. The result of his parents' hard efforts is golden and glorious because he topped Medical Examination in the country. Not only was this Rakesh also a good person who was very much devoted to his parents.


d. How does the author make fun of the words 'America' and 'the USA'?

Ans: - The writer sympathetically makes fun of the words 'America' and 'the USA' from the point of view of Varmaji. He has learnt to call 'the USA' instead of 'America'. He even taught the whole family to say 'the USA' instead of 'America' because only ignorant people call 'America'. He doesn't know that 'the USA' is abbreviated from of United States of America. He believes that only educated people call 'the USA'.


e. How does the author characterize Rakesh's wife?

Ans:-  Veena is the wife to Rakesh. She is from a nearby village, a daughter of childhood friend of Rakesh's mother. She is a plump, old fashioned and uneducated girl. She is a submissive and amiable house wife. Though she seems lazy, she is a good-natured girl. She does all domestic works independently. She is fat but pretty girl like warm wax. Overall, the author has characterized her to be a typical middle class Indian house wife.


f. Describe how Rakesh rises in his career?

Ans:- Being born to a middle class family, he gets chance to go to school and he tops his Medical Examination. Then he leaves for the USA after earning a scholarship. After returning back home earning lots of money and a good deal of medical experiences from prestigious hospitals in the USA, he works in a city hospital. His talent, skills and hard works make him rise to the post of the director. After that, he opens his own clinic and buys an ambassador, a luxurious Indian car. He becomes the richest doctor in town.


g. How does the author describe Rakesh's family background?

Ans: - Rakesh was born in a middle-class family; in a remote village is India. His parents are illiterate. His grandfather was a vegetable vendor, and his father has worked in a Kerosene dealer for 40 years. His mother has spent almost all of her life in kitchen.


h. What is the impact of Rakesh's mother's death on his father?

Ans: - After the death of Rakesh's mother, his father is fragmented. His starts making so many complaints and gets caught by mysterious diseases. Even Rakesh can't find out what has happened to his father. His father sits huddles on his string bed most of the day and develops an exasperating habit of stretching out suddenly and lying absolutely still scaring the whole family members. He suddenly sits up stiff and gaunt and spits out a big gob of betel juice.


i. What did Rakesh do to make his father's old age more comfortable?

Ans: - Rakesh does so much to make his father's old age more comfortable. He himself brings morning tea to him in his favorite brass glass. Every morning he read morning news to him sitting close to him. In the evening, after returning home, he takes his father out in the garden for a brisk walk and fresh air. Because of his father's ill health condition, he supervises his father's diet every day. He brings pill and powders and tonic for his father. He is conscious to his father's health all the times. He even scolds his father if he becomes stubborn and wishes to eat oily, sugary and fried foods.


j. Why did the old man try to bribe his grandchildren?

Ans: - The old man wishes to eat sweets but Rakesh prevents him to eat. He doesn't like to put his father's health into risk by letting him eat anything. His daughter in law doesn't provide any kind of food prevented by Rakesh. Once he desired to have Jalabi so he tried to bribe his grandchildren to buy them from nearby bazaar. He gave his grandchildren 20 paisas for buying him sweets worth of 30 paisas.


k. Are Mr. Varma's complaints about his diets reasonable? How?

Ans: - To some extent, Mr. Varma's complaints about his diet are reasonable. We are tempted to eat whatever we wish without understanding the possible effects later. Old age is like a second childhood, in which people loses senses and control specially in case of eating behavior. Mr. Varma wants to eat his best foods because he doesn't know the side effects of those foods on his health and he is already suffered of several diseases. Rakesh is a doctor and knows well what sorts of foods are good for his father's health. But this kind of diet control makes his father hate him.


Reference to the Context

a. How did the Varma couple make sacrifice for their son's higher education?

Ans:- The Varma couple belongs to a middle class family from a remote village is India. Varma's father was a vegetable seller, and he has worked at a kerosene dealer for more that 4o years. His wife is a housewife. The couple worked hard to send their only son Rakesh to school. They spent their earnings for their son's education. Rakesh is the first person the history of Varma heritage to go to school and receive higher education.


b. Mr. Varma suffers from disease one after another after his wife's death. Would he have enjoyed better health if she had not died before him? Give reasons.

Ans:- It is said that Mr. Varma is broken into pieces after his wife dies. After missing the dearest wife he suffers a lot however Rakesh takes care of him a lot. Varma feels lack of something in his life and develops many diseases because of pain of losing his wife. He is also growing old and it is inevitable to become weak and sick in old age. He might have been happy if his wife had not died before him. The inner happiness could encourage his to fight against ill health condition.  Rakesh is properly taking care of his father supervising his father's diet and bringing him several medicines but the grief and pain of losing his was were eating him inside. He doesn't like strict behavior of Rakesh for his better health. His dissatisfaction over his son and his daughter in law has also caused to make his health condition poor. How much dearest their children are, old age people feel lonely after they miss their spouses. Inner happiness matters a lot to become healthy in our life. Same case is applied in the case of Mr. Varmaji.


c. Dr. Rakesh is divided between a doctor and a son. As a son, he loves his father and worries about his weakening health but as a doctor, he is strict on his father's diet and medicine. In your own view, what else could Rakesh have done to make his father's final years more comfortable?

Ans:- The whole story of "A Devoted Son" revolves round the central character Rakesh. He is doctor by profession. Beside his profession, he is a devoted son of his father. As a son he himself takes care of his father. He sits beside his father, reads him morning news, brings tea for him, takes him to the garden for a brisk walk. He is very much devoted to his father. As a doctor, Rakesh is worried about the poor condition of his father's health. Except everything, Rakesh is very strict to his father on his diet and medicine. But his father doesn't understand this and supposes that Rakesh has become cruel to his father. His only complaint is his son doesn't allow his to eat what his father wishes. What ever Rakish has done to his father only for the comfort to him. He is already infected by several diseases, has become old and weak, and in such a condition, if his father doesn't control on his diet, he may suffer a lot. Unhealthy food makes his father's health critical. Because of his son's proper care, the old man doesn't feel any sort of pain in his body. He has provided every sort of happiness to his father but his father himself becomes suborn. No one can do much than Rakesh to his/her father in such old age. But it could be much better if he has supervised his father on his diet more politely.


d. What does the story say about the relationship between grandfather and grandchildren?

Ans:- The whole story centers the relationship between Mr. Varma and his son Rakesh. Rakesh has two sons. The relationship between Mr. Varma and his grandchildren is not focused much. However, there is a scene of Mr. Varma bribing his grand children for buying him sweets. The grand children know that their grand father should not have sugary food, however they go to bazaar to buy him sweets lying their father and mother. This shows that the grand children love their grand father. They understand their grand father's wish to have sweet that's why they buy sweets for their grand father cheating their own parents.


e. Do you call Rakesh a devoted son? Give reasons.

Ans:- There is no doubt that Rakesh is a devoted son. He has shown a great respect and devotion to his own father and mother. Despite being a great doctor, he never forgets to show his tender and loving nature to his father and mother. When he scored the top marks in Medical Examination, he went to his father to tell the news. He shows a great courtesy to his father by bowing down and touching his father's feet. Even living many years and earning excellent experiences in prestigious hospitals in the USA, he doesn't marry a foreign girl there. Most of young people who go to abroad marry foreign girl, but Rakesh returns back home and marries a girl chosen by his own mother. When his mother is sick, he takes care of her by himself. He also takes care of his father after his mother passes away. He brings morning tea, serves meal, reads news paper, supervises his diet, provides every comfort to his father. Throughout his life he is dedicated to his mother and father.


Reference beyond the text

a. Write an essay on The Parents' Ambition for their children in Nepali society. You must give at least five examples.

Ans:- There is no more differences between the parents of Rakesh in the story of "A Devoted Son" and the parents in Nepali society. Like the parents of Rakesh, many parents in our society are ambitious about their children. They want their children to the best children among all. They want them to be doctors, engineers, pilots in the future. They labor hard and sacrifice every happiness for the sake of the bright future of their children. We have seen lots of evidences of ambitious parents in our society. Parents belonging to either poor rich rich family back ground they have ambition for their children. According to the economic conditions they send their children to either community and private schools. Even some people doing hard works manage to admit their children in private schools assuming that their children will achieve success in the future. All the time they talk about their children, their behavior and they study to their neighbors and relatives. They have much more concern about their study so they frequently visit the schools where their children are admitted. They provide enough educational materials by curtailing other expenses. They do all these things because they have ambition for their children. All parents wish a better and bright future of their children.


b. Medicine replace out diets in old age. What can be done to make old age less dependent on medicine?

Ans:- Old age is such a span of our life in which we become weak and feeble. We lack strength, vigor and power in this age. Our body and our organs loss efficiency owing to faulty diets, malnutrition, infections, filthy environment, temperature etc. Week teeth, weak digestion system, lack of efficiently of several major organs such as heart, kidney, liver etc. people can't not eat enough food. If they eat nutrient foods, they can't digest them and intake of such kind of food make them sick. They have to keep their organs working continuously by taking several medicines. The diets the old people need for their body can't be supplied with foods as they have to be digested in our body and our body can't do so. So, medicines are supplied to fulfill the required elements for our body in old. However, our behavior determines how much dependent we become on diet in old age. Improving eating behavior and regular exercise are the most important things in our young age to our old age less dependent on medicine. It is not good to have food with lots of sugar, salt, oil, and spices. When we are young, we don't care on such things and keep going on eating such unhealthy foods. We don't give any time for our physical exercise. These are the main cause. The other things we can do to make our life less dependent on medicine in old age are drinking just enough water, avoid eating fried and spicy food, avoiding alcohol and tobacco, eating fruits regularly, eating fresh food at home, keeping our body active all the time, proper sleep and rest and so on. Another most important thing is keeping own self happy and tension free all the time.


c. Write an essay on "Care of Elderly Citizens" in about 300 words.


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