Wednesday, July 14, 2010

How to Understand the Theme of 'To the Indian Who Died in Africa' by T.S. Eliot

Solved Essay Type Question of 10 Marks: ‘To the Indian Who Died in Africa’ by T.S. Eliot

Posted in Free ICSE English Resources Blog on 14.07.2010
Linked to Blog given in ‘write-better-speak-better’ on 14.07.2010
Q. State briefly the theme of the poem.

                The poem contains a number of themes and layers of thoughts so characteristic of a poet like Eliot’s stature.

                That pursuing actions in one’s life with absolute detachment without any concern for the fruits of one’s labour is the main theme of this rather complex poem.  Eliot, who was an extraordinary poet as well as a scholar, seems to be inspired by the sayings of the Bhagavad-Gita while choosing this theme. The soldiers’ sense of duty made him willingly go to Africa where some of them laid down their lives with this philosophy in their heart. As a result, the foreign land where they died in the course of performing their duty becomes their home and the country of their birth becomes an alien land. Their sublime action would bring its own reward though they would not know it.

                Again the canon of Selfless Action or Nishkam Karma is another thematic element of the poem. It is in the spirit of selfless action that the soldiers go wherever his duty demands him to be. Some of them get killed abroad far away from their home but their self-sacrifice not only render them immortal in the memory of their people but also make their souls face the day of ‘The Last Judgement’ (The Old Testament)  with their heads held high.

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