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Bonku Babu’s Friend Summary, Theme

ICSE Class 9 English Bonku Babu’s Friend Summary, Theme, Character Sketch along with difficult word meanings from Treasure Chest Book

 

Bonku Babu’s Friend Class 9 ICSE– Are you looking for Theme, Summary and Lesson Explanation for ICSE Class 9 English Lesson Bonku Babu’s Friend from Treasure Chest (A Collection of ICSE Poems and Short Stories) book. Get Summary, Theme, Character Sketch along with difficult word meanings.

 

Also See : Bonku Babu’s Friend Question Answers Class 9 ICSE

Bonku Babu’s Friend Class 9 ICSE English 

By Satyajit Ray

 

Introduction to Bonku Babu’s Friend

‘Bonku Babu’s Friend’ is a science fiction story written by Satyajit Ray. It is based on the life of Bonkubihari Dutta, a sheepish geography school teacher who stumbles upon a chance encounter with an alien. The rest of the story follows him and his funny yet fulfilling exchange with the extraterrestrial, making Bonku Babu’s Friend one of the most famous literary works of the Oscar-winning director and writer, Satyajit Ray. 

 

Title Analysis of the Lesson Bonku Babu’s friend

Bonku Babu’s friend is an apt but ironic title for the story.

All his students and associates took advantage of Bonku Babu’s patience and subjected him to mockery and ridicule. The people with whom Bonku Babu spent time, always bullied him and played pranks on him which shows that they were not his true friends. His only true friend was Ang, an alien. After meeting him Bonku Babu finally realised that he should stand up for himself. Bonku Babu left the company of his associates. The story is all about Ang, an alien who came from planet Craneus and helped Bonku Babu become a transformed man. 

 

Though Ang and Bonku Babu met only once and did not know each other, Ang proved to be his true friend who showed him his real potential. He did not unnecessarily praise Bonku Babu but made him aware of the flaws in his character. Like a true friend, he not only told him his weakness but also guided him. He made him understand that standing up against injustice is important. Ang in the story transformed the life of Bonku Babu for good.

 

The title “Bonku Babu’s Friend” by Satyajit Ray can be interpreted in a couple of ways, 

 

Literal Interpretation:

  • On the surface, it could refer to the alien visitor, Ang, who introduces himself as Bonku Babu’s friend.
  • However, given the limited interaction in the excerpt, it’s unclear if a true friendship has developed.

 

Irony and Humor:

  • Considering Bonku Babu’s boastful personality and the audience’s likely skepticism about Ang’s existence, the title could be ironic.
  • It might be hinting at Bonku Babu’s tendency to exaggerate or even fabricate stories.

 

Themes of the Lesson Bonku Babu’s friend 

The short story “Bonku Babu’s Friend” by Satyajit Ray explores the following themes:

  • Bullying
  • Self-Confidence
  • Friendship

 

  1. Bullying

“Consider his looks, not to mention his brains… yes, Bunkum would be the ideal specimen!”

“Right. Suitable for keeping in a museum. Or a zoo,” Ramkanai chipped in.”

Ramkanai, one of them, suggests his looks are suited for a museum or zoo implying Bonku Babu is odd looking. This points towards Bonku Babu being ridiculed for his physical characteristics.

 

“Nidhi Babu feigned total amazement, “Hey, Bunkum wants to say something! What did you say, Bunkum? Who’s going to come here? Where from?”

 

Nidhi Babu mockingly calls Bonku Babu, “Bunkum” which means nonsense. 

These examples suggest Bonku Babu is mocked by those around him.

Bullying is a form of aggressive behaviour in which someone repeatedly causes another person discomfort. Bullying can take the form of physical contact, words, or more subtle actions. Bonku Babu was the object of bullying by everyone around him. Bonku Babu was bullied and teased by every batch of his students as well as his associates. 

Since Bonku Babu was a teacher in a village school, where he was teaching for the last twenty-two years, his students were the first to bully him. The narrator, in the story, says bullying of Bonku Babu by his students was followed like a tradition with both the old or the new entrants every year. They teased him by drawing his cartoon on the blackboard, putting glue on his chair or by lighting a chasing rocket and setting it off right behind him on the night of Kali Puja. But Bonku Babu  never got upset  by any of their acts,  remained silent and calm most of the time,  except occasionally saying, “Shame on you boys!”

Another group of people,  who treated Bonku Babu disrespectfully and bullied him without fail at every statement were the people whom he used to meet at the lawyer, Sripati Majumdar’s house. He used to spend a weekend evenings with middle-aged men, who were regular at the addas hosted by Sripati Babu. The topics at the conversation would range from ghosts to  spaceships,  to space-travel and aliens. Usually Bonku Babu did not speak at these conversations but whenever he opened his mouth to speak,  he was mocked by nearly everyone  present there. The mockery used to be so intense, bringing Bonku Babu’s  endurance almost to a breaking point. One of these persons Nidhu Babu mockingly called him ‘Bunkum’. At times Bonku Babu used to think that it was enough and he would never come again at Sripati’s house.

 

  1. Self- Confidence

Self-confidence is an individual’s trust in his or her self. Bonku Babu lacked self-confidence to defend himself and therefore, he was the victim of bullying by his own students as well as his associates. He was even condemned to be a specimen in a zoo. At times the mockery used to be so bad that he would think of never coming back to Sripati Babu’s house, but he would remain silent when others made fun of him. Forgetting the insults heaped on him, he would return the next weekend. 

It was only after the visit of the alien Ang who instilled confidence in him that he retaliated and not only answered each one of them, who bullied him but returned their remarks with exact retribution. They were shocked to see a new, confident Bonku Babu who could take a stand for himself. 

Bonku Babu: “Nidhu Babu, if you call me Bunkum, I shall call you Nitwit, and you must learn to live with that!”

“And Sripati Babu, you are an important man, of course you must have chamchas, sycophants But let me tell you, from today you can count me out. If you like, I can send my cat to you, it’s quite good at licking feet.”

The above lines showcase Bonku Babu’s newfound self-respect and confidence, and that he is no longer afraid to speak his mind.

 

  1. Friendship

 

The theme of friendship is expressed through the relationship between Bonku Babu and Ang, the alien from the planet Craneus. When Ang met Bonku Babu, he greeted him by saying ‘Namaskar’. Initially, Bonku Babu felt quite uncomfortable in Ang’s company. At first, even Ang prevented Bonku Babu from getting closer to him. But later on. Ang removed that spell.

 

Ang: “Very well. Look, I have been observing you. And I have examined your arms and legs.…

However, as human beings go, you are not too bad. I mean, you are a good man. But you have a major fault. You are much too meek and mild. That is why you have made so little progress in life. You must always speak up against injustice, and protest if anyone hurts or insults you without any provocation. To take things quietly is wrong, not just for man, but for any creature anywhere.”

 

Then like a true friend, Ang tells Bonku Babu his weaknesses and reminds him of his potential. He tells Bonku Babu that although he is a good person, he is too mild and meek. He then advises him to stand up for himself and speak up against any injustice and protest if anybody hurts him. This talk instills confidence in Bonku Babu and for the first time he realises how unique he is in the whole world to get a chance to meet an alien. This shows in Bonku Babu’s body language as he walks, “With a spring in every step, he was actually dancing.”

 

It was this realisation of self-worth instilled by an alien who acted more like a supportive friend that Bonku Babu could avenge all the insults and bullying he had endured. This is beautifully summed up by the narrator when he says that Bonku Babu suddenly realized that the invisible bonds that were holding him down tightly, had disappeared. 

 

Bonku Babu’s Friend Summary

 

Plot Summary (Storyline)

 

Summary of the Story


The story begins with Bonkubihari Dutta, commonly known as Bonku Babu, a school teacher in a primary school in Kankurgacchi village. He had been teaching both Geography and Bengali. Everyone around him, be it his students or his associates, enjoyed teasing him. But he was a calm, composed man who was never angry. He never got upset by his students’ act of teasing him. In fact, he enjoyed teaching and telling tales about adventures to a handful of good students. He was a good storyteller and always had his audience enthralled. 

Bonku Babu spent his evenings in the company of Sripati Babu, Nidhu Babu, Ramnakai, Chandi Babu and other regulars who visited the meetings hosted by Sripati Babu. Nearly everyone poked fun at Bonku Babu, sometimes bringing his endurance almost to a breaking point. 

Once when Bonku Babu declared that he was not afraid of ghosts, it offered a golden opportunity to  the others to make fun of him. On his way back home later that night, Bonku Babu was attacked by a ‘spook’. As he was passing under a tamarind tree, a tall, thin figure leapt down and landed on his back. As it happened, this apparition had smeared black ink all over itself, as suggested by someone at the meeting. Bonku Babu was not frightened. But he was injured. For three days, his neck hurt. Worst of all, his new kurta was torn and it has black stains all over.

One particular day, the associates were talking about spaceships and space-travel. Bonku Babu noticed a strange light and on further discussion, people started making fun of him. They called him a specimen to be kept in a zoo or museum. Bonku Babu left the place quite disturbed. Thinking what would happen if creatures from other planets come to their village, he got up to leave soon.

On the way, Bonku Babu noticed that things were different. A dull light shone on every branch and leaf. The pond was lit by a much stronger pink light. He kept moving and all at once, his wars began ringing. He broke out into goosebumps but his irrepressible curiosity drove him further forward.

He saw an object that looked like a giant glass bowl turned upside down which covered the pond completely. The strong yet gentle pink light was shining through this translucent shade. On moving forward, he saw an alien.

Not even in his wildest dreams had Bonku Babu witnessed such a strange scene. He felt his hands and feet tied up and saw an object in the glass mould. From the spaceship emerges an alien, by the name Ang, with slender legs and arms, and a disproportionate large head, wearing a pink outfit covering everything but its face. 

Bonku Babu realised that the alien was a far superior being than man. He advised Bonku Babu to give up his meekness and stand up for himself and speak up against injustice. This made him realise his self-worth. He went to Sripati Babu’s house, he spoke to all those who bullied him with such a confident and sarcastic manner that they could not believe he was the same Bonku Babu who they ridiculed. He left the group that insulted him with his head held high and this shocked everyone.

 

Background Setting of the Story Bonku Babu’s Friend

 

The story ‘Bonku Babu’s Friend’ is set in a far away village, called Kankurgacchi in Kolkata. At the time of the writing of the story, it must have been a remote village as is indicated by the conversation at Sripati Babu’s house, where they claimed that it is highly impossible for a rocket or an alien to visit their village. 

The description of the village at the moonless, cold night with no torch or lantern and complete silence with no hissing of snakes or chirping of crickets provide an apt setting for the appearance of something supernatural. The cluster of bamboo stems, with a small pond nearby adds to the suspense in the story. 

The appearance of the spaceship and an alien, who knew 14,000 languages, who could mobilise and immobilise anyone who came close to him with an instrument, gives the story a semblance of a Science-fiction. 

Further, the language and words used, typical Bengali names like Sripati Majumdar, Bonku Babu, Nidhu Babu, Chandi Babu, Poncha Ghosh, Bairav Chakravarty suggest they were men who were happily reconciled to their ordinary lives and thus heighten the sense of anomaly of the events and revelation that follows. 

 

Character Sketch Bonku Babu’s Friend

 

  1. Bonku Babu:
  • Personality: Kind-hearted, calm, patient. Endures pranks and ridicule with quiet dignity. Finds joy in teaching and inspiring his students.
  • Transformation: The encounter with Ang sparks a change. From being docile, he becomes determined and headstrong, fighting for Ang’s safety and defying authority.
  • Significance: Represents the ordinary person with an extraordinary experience. His transformation highlights the potential for courage and conviction within seemingly unremarkable individuals.
  1. Ang:
  • Origin: An alien from the planet Craneus who crash-lands on Earth.
  • Appearance: Described vaguely – small, with large, expressive eyes.
  • Personality: Supports Bonku Babu, motivates him to realise his self-worth and stand up for himself.
  1. The Villagers:
  • Represented by: Ramkanai Babu, Nityananda Babu, and others who gather at Sripathi Babu’s place.
  • Personality: skeptical, mocking, and dismissive of Bonku Babu’s claims. Represent the narrow-mindedness of the community.
  • Significance: Highlight the contrast between Bonku Babu’s openness to the extraordinary and the villagers’ resistance to anything outside their understanding.
  1. Students:
  • Students: While unnamed, a few good students are mentioned. They represent Bonku Babu’s dedication as a teacher and the potential for curiosity and wonder in young minds.

 

Bonku Babu’s Character Analysis

Bonku Babu, the protagonist of the story “Bonku Babu’s Friend,” is a man of routine and quiet contentment. We can imagine him as a middle-aged fellow, perhaps with spectacles perched on his nose and a gentle smile. However, beneath the surface lies a man who grapples with ridicule and experiences a transformation through his unusual friendship.

Despite his outward calmness, Bonku Babu harbors a hidden yearning for adventure. He entertains his students with stories of exotic lands gleaned from books, a hint of wanderlust peeking through his composed demeanor. 

Bonku Babu is a constant target of gentle ridicule. His colleagues poke fun at his simple ways and his tendency to embellish stories. Students play pranks, highlighting his gullibility and good nature. He endures these jabs with a forced smile, a testament to his non-confrontational nature. This constant mockery fuels a hidden desire for respect and a life beyond the ordinary.

The arrival of Ang, the alien visitor, becomes a turning point. Initially, Bonku Babu is overwhelmed by Ang’s eccentricity and demands for secrecy. However, Ang recognizes Bonku Babu’s gentle nature and makes him his confidante. This unexpected friendship gives Bonku Babu a sense of purpose and importance he hasn’t felt before. The experience with Ang leaves a lasting impact. Although life returns to its normal rhythm, Bonku Babu no longer shrinks away from challenges. He carries the lessons of self-confidence and the courage to stand his ground, forever changed by his extraordinary friend.

 

Narration Style of Bonku Babu’s Friend

The story is told from a third-person perspective, but it focuses primarily on Bonku Babu’s thoughts and feelings. This allows readers to understand his internal world and empathize with his experiences.

The narrator is subjective and does not participate in the plot at any time.

The conversation between the alien and Bonku Babu, how his students and others played pranks on him and the whole setting has been described along with the minutest details. 

 

Writing Styles used in Bonku Babu’s Friend

It is a literary device in which a writer gives an advance hint of what is to come later in the story. In the story, the examples of foreshadowing are-

In the beginning, Bonku Babu’s associates make fun of him and when he spotted the strange light and left early, the readers got a hint regarding the alien and the space-ship. 

The story is an allegory showing a self-realisation of how Bonku Babu becomes a confident, self- reliant person, speaking against injustice. It is a story of a timid man, growing into a mature human being after overcoming bullying. 

While the story deals with serious themes like isolation and societal prejudice, Ray doesn’t resort to sentimentality. He portrays Bonku Babu’s struggles with sensitivity, allowing the reader to connect with his emotions without feeling manipulated.

Despite the simplicity of language, Ray paints evocative pictures with his words. He describes the Bengali village setting, the sounds of the pond, and the physical characteristics of the characters in a way that allows the reader to feel immersed in the story.

 

Word Meanings Bonku Babu’s Friend

 

 

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