The Story Fritz by Satyajit Ray— Critical Analysis

Critical Analysis of the Story:


The short story ‘Fritz’ written by Satyajit Ray was published in his book ‘Collected Short Stories’. It is about a Swiss doll named Fritz. In the story, the two friends plan a trip and decide to visit Bundi which is a village in Rajasthan. Jayanto, who has often visited the place during his childhood days, recollects the memories about the place and things. While narrating some of the instances from his memories, he tells his friend, Shankar about Fritz, a one - foot tall doll brought from Switzerland by his uncle for him . He also tells him how he was great fond of it and how it was torn by two stray dogs into pieces. Finally, he tells with great sorrow that he buried the ruined doll under deodar tree stood in the circuit house.

The Story Fritz by Satyajit Ray— Critical Analysis
The Story Fritz by Satyajit Ray— Critical Analysis 


In the story, the author opens to us the wonderful world of supernatural and mysterious being. Jayanto, the protagonist of the story reveals to us that he has seen Fritz who has come back to life and has visited him the previous night. The end of the story is also mysterious and unresolved. When the spot where the ruined Fritz was buried, is dug, the bones of a human are found at the place. Hence, it is left for the readers to analyse that whether Fritz was a doll or human. Whatever final conclusion the readers may have, but the story is indeed related to supernatural.

Plot of the Story: 


When the story begins the two childhood friends namely Jayanto (the protagonist) and Shankar (the narrator) are seen sitting in the garden of the circuit house. They are having their tea in the morning. They have come on the visit of Bundi which is a village in Rajasthan where Jayanto had been before in his childhood with his parents. Jayanto is seen in somewhat pensive mood. The old memories rush into his mind. Shankar thinks that Jayanto is an emotional man, so he is becoming nostalgic. After having tea, both the friends go for sight-seeing in the compound. Suddenly Jayanto recalls a tall deodar tree which was stood there. He searches for it and finds it at the end of the compound. He looks at the trunk searchingly and tells Shankar that here he had met a European but does not exactly remember who it was or how they had met. 

Rising Action: 

After having a stroll, Jayanto and Shankar return to the circuit house where Dilawar, the cook, has prepared their dinner. Jayanto tells Shankar the tale about Fritz, a one - foot tall Swiss doll brought from Switzerland by his uncle for him. He says that he was very much attached to the doll and was devastated when two stray dogs had mutilated it. He buried it under the deodar tree. 


Shankar is quite tired so he goes to bed but wakes up abruptly in the middle of the night and finds Jayanto sitting on his bed, looking perplexed. Upon asking the reason, Jayanto says that something had walked over his chest when he was asleep. Shankar assures that it could have been his dream but Jayanto shows him the cover of his quilt. Faint marks were there pointing to the fact that an animal had walked over it . Shankar does a thorough search of the place but does not find any small animal like mice or rats. Shankar pacifies him by saying a few soothing words and goes to bed . The next day while returning from the fort, Jayanto reveals to Shankar that those little marks on his quilt were the footprints of Fritz who came into their room last night. 

Falling Action: 

Shankar (the narrator) begins to feel annoyed at his friend's irrational fear. An idea strikes Shankar's mind that could dispel the fear of the ‘dead and destroyed’ Fritz from his friend's mind. He feels to exhume Fritz's remains from his grave so that his friend's troubled mind might be consoled by showing him that the doll has simply vanished into the oblivion. Shankar thinks that after thirty long years in contact with soil, everything of Fritz would have been eaten up. At the best, rusted and corroded remains of its metal buckle would be there and this should convince Jayanto that Fritz is gone for good from the face of the earth. The idea of exhuming Fritz appealed to Jayanto. With the help of the gardener of the bungalow, they went to the exact spot where Jayanto felt his Fritz was buried. When the gardener did so, to their astonishment and horror, they found a twelve - inch - long, pure white, perfect little human skeleton. 


The story heads towards a lame end until the discovery of remnants of the toy Fritz comes to us. The narrator expects to see nothing except some rusted buckles or some such scrap. But, what is found is so unworldly and bizarre. The discovery of a tiny human skeleton from the grave of a supple - bodied doll is so horrifying and grisly. Is Jayanto right in treating Fritz like a living human? The question defies any answer. 

Moral of the Story: 

The story brings to us a moral or a fact that sometimes the recollections related to childhood grip the matured minds so much that they are always lost in them and they also become an integral part of their life. Those who are emotional grown-ups cling to the past recollections and wander in a strange world of fancy. They take the things happened in their past in a different way. Jayanto, who has entered his manhood, loves to incline to his childhood memories. He usually recalls a doll namely Fritz brought by his uncle for him from Swiss. As he has an emotional attachment with his doll, he cannot forget it even in his manhood. The way in which his most favourite toy, Fritz was snatched away from him, always troubles him. With many memories of his childhood, he visits Bundi with his friend Shankar. During his stay in circuit house he recalls Fritz badly because it was a place where his dearest toy was ruined and he buried it under a deodar tree. The thought of Fritz always remains with him. During his sleep, he feels that something has walked over his chest. Later on he tells that it was Fritz. Though this may be as a figment of his imagination, there is no answer of the marks found on the cover of the quilt and then a pure white twelve inch human skeleton is found at the place where Fritz was buried. It can be concluded that either it is a prank played by someone or it is only the confusion of the two friends.


In the story, there are two main characters namely Jayanto (the protagonist) and Shankar (the narrator). Both the characters perform a vital role in the story. Jayanto is quiet and emotional by nature whereas Shankar is a practical and a man of strong mind against the adverse circumstances. Because of being a sensitive soul from his very childhood, Jayanto was deeply attached to his doll Fritz. He could not protect his doll from being destroyed by a couple of stray dogs and he buried Fritz as if a real human being had died. His sensitive self continues to be anxious, even after thirty one years when he is a grown up person. When, after thirty one years, he visits Bundi with his friend Shankar and stays at the same place where he was deprived of his dearest doll Fritz, memories related to Fritz surround him and he again feels sorrow at the tragic end of Fritz. He is so much engrossed in the thoughts of Fritz that he imagines that Fritz still craves to have his company. During his stay in Bundi wherever he goes, this thought always remains with him and troubles his mind. Here at this moment, Shankar who is his childhood friend shows his great concern for his friend Jayanto. On finding Jayanto in low spirits, he enquires about his well-being. To make him feel comfortable, Shankar thinks of giving tranquilizers to Jayanto. Shankar cannot see Jayanto in trouble as Shankar is a rational man, an idea strikes his mind to bring Jayanto back to normalcy. Shankar remains with Shankar until the strange thing comes to them.

Then there is a minor character of a gardener whose name is not mentioned in the story. He plays a very brief but a humorous role in the story. With a humorous remark, he performs the task of digging the place where Jayanto buried the ruined Fritz. 

Setting of the Story:

The whole story takes place in Bundi, a small town in Rajasthan. The action in the story begins in a circuit house (a dak bungalow generally used by senior government officers for short stays) which is situated in Bundi. This is the place which had been visited by Jayanto with his parents when he was a child. Now after thirty one years, Jayanto visits this place with his childhood friend Shankar. While staying in the circuit house, Jayanto is surrounded with the memories of his childhood. At first Jayanto recalls deodar tree and a European with whom he had an encounter here. When they return to their room, Jayanto recalls the cook, Dilawar. Later on he is reminded of a Swiss doll that his uncle had gifted him and which he had buried under the deodar tree. When the exact place where Fritz was buried, is dug, a twelve- inch long skeleton of a human being is found. A small portion of the story takes place in the Bundi Fort which is visited by Jayanto and Shankar. Both the friends visit the fort but they stay there for a very brief time. Shankar wants to see the fort but Jayanto shows no interest in seeing the Fort as he seems to be perplexed and insists Shankar to return to circuit house. The story is aptly set in an atmosphere necessary to create a feeling of creepiness.

 Appropriateness of the Title:

The title of the story 'Fritz' is quite apt, suggestive and intriguing. The whole story revolves around a doll namely ' Fritz ' which was brought by Jayanto's uncle from Switzerland. Jayanto's uncle gifted it to Jayanto. The man who sold the doll, told Jayanto's uncle to call the doll 'Fritz' as it would not respond to any other name. ‘Fritz’ was a unique twelve - inch long figure of an old man, dressed in traditional Swiss attire. The doll 'Fritz' became Jayanto's companion in his childhood. He was so fond of it that he spent several hours with it. When he was merely a child of six years, he went Bundi with his parents and also took Fritz with him. But his obsession seemed to have ended abruptly, when it was seized by some street dogs and battered beyond recognition. So Jayanto buried it under a deodar tree in the circuit house. Jayanto's association with Fritz which began at the age of six does not seem to end even after thirty - one years when Jayanto returns for a visit to Bundi with his childhood friend Shankar. It is the memory of Fritz that makes Jayanto visit his childhood town. Fritz renews the association by walking over Jayanto's chest when he was sleeping. This leads Jayanto to discover the mystery of Fritz. On realizing Jayanto's association with Fritz, Shankar, Jayanto's friend suggested to him to get the earth below the deodar tree dug up and find if something was left to Fritz. On digging the earth, to their horror, they found a human skeleton, pure white in colour and twelve inches long, exactly the size of Fritz. Thus it is 'Fritz', the mysterious doll which fascinates and captures the attention of the reader from beginning to the end of the story. Hence the title of the story is justified. 

An Atmosphere of Suspense and Mystery: 

The story begins with the trip to Bundi made by Jayanto (the protagonist) after thirty one years of his first visit when he was a child of six years. Shankar who is Jayanto's childhood friend also accompanies him to the trip of Bundi. During the trip to Bundi, Jayanto has been described in a sad and pensive mood. At first, Jayanto is able to recall his visit to the place with his parents. But suddenly all the old memories begin to rush into his mind. He recalls his deep attachment with a strange doll which his uncle had gifted him. He also recalls how his dearest doll Fritz was ruined and how it was buried by him under a deodar tree like a dead human being. During his second visit, he recalls the deodar tree and makes a search for it in the compound of the circuit house. Then, while sleeping at night, he feels that something has walked over his chest. He also shows some round marks on the cover of his quilt. Jayanto feels that his destroyed and dead doll has got life and it is craving to have his company. When the exact place under the deodar tree is dug to find the remains of Fritz, a twelve inch long human skeleton is found. All this creates a suspense and mystery in the minds of the readers. There is no answer to the question how the doll has been converted into a human skeleton. The mystery remains mystery. 

Foreshadowing used in the Story: 

Foreshadowing is a literary device in which the author gives an advance hint of what is to come later in the story. Foreshadowing often appears at the beginning of a story and it helps the reader develop expectations about the upcoming events. This literary device is generally used to build anticipation in the minds of readers about what might happen next, thus adding dramatic tension to a story. Moreover, foreshadowing can make extraordinary and bizarre events appear credible, as the events are predicted beforehand so that the readers are mentally prepared for them. In the story , ‘Fritz ' , the author has created a sense of foreboding in the story by describing doll as very life - like and telling that though it was not mechanised it was possible to bend and twist its limbs ' . Then, the author has provided an inkling of some evil foreboding by describing the seller of the doll. The man, who sold the doll to Jayanto's uncle, told the latter to call the doll by the name of Fritz as it would not respond to any other name. The doll which was ruined by the stray dogs was buried under the deodar tree as a human being or a living creature. It is a clear indication that something evil is going to take place in future. A twelve inch long human skeleton which is found when the grave of doll is dug , also indicates some worst happening . 

The Use of Imagery: 

The author has used visual imagery in the following: 1. ‘The rooms had high ceilings and the skylights had long, dangling ropes which could be pulled to open and shut them.’

Auditory imagery: 

Auditory imagery has been used in the following: 1. ‘A slight noise woke me a little later.’ 2. ‘This is the second time I've woken up, actually. The first time I had heard a shuffling noise near the window.’ 3. ‘So, after murmuring a few soothing words.’ 4. ‘All we could hear was the noise made by a few monkeys sitting on the gulmohar tree across the cobbled path.’ 

Narrative Technique: 

The story ‘Fritz’ has been narrated in first person from Shankar's perspective and that provides a realistic depth into Jayanto's point of view, unclouded by Jayanto's irrational fears and beliefs. The passages may be a bit long and quite descriptive about the ancient craftsman style, the current venue, about Jayanto's childhood memories and experiences. The story includes a lot of flashbacks : half of the whole story is told in the flashbacks but the timing to reveal those past memories and moments is so perfect that the readers won't have any trouble with the transition.

Saurabh Gupta

My name is Saurabh Gupta. I have designed this blog to help those students and people who are greatly interested to get knowledge about English Literature. This blog provides precious knowledge and information about English Literature and Criticism.

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