Theme of the Story Fritz by Satyajit Ray

Introduction of the Story: 

The short story entitled Fritz written by Satyajit Ray published in his book ‘Collected Short Stories’ is about a Swiss doll named Fritz. It is a mysterious story. It is a fine blend of real, the fanciful and weird. Satyajit Ray has built up suspense and mystery in the story which finally lead to an unusual end of the story. It is an unusual ghost story. It has almost all the requisite elements of a ghost story unusual setting, suspense, feeling of creepiness, etc. The only thing missing is importantly an active ghost. Only when a human skeleton , similar in colour and size to the ruined toy named Fritz , is discovered that we come to realise that the inactive toy could be ghost , not a wicked but an innocent one

Theme of the Story Fritz by Satyajit Ray
Theme of the Story Fritz by Satyajit Ray

‘Fritz’ is a recount of the narrator Shankar when he went with his friend Jayanto to Bundi in Rajasthan. Jayanto's father worked in the Archaeological department and he had vivid childhood memories of Bundi during his stay at Bundi. He looks unusually perturbed and lost and narrator tries to share his feelings. He talks about a deodar tree which stood in the open and he tells about his encounter with a European there. Then he goes on sharing his experiences with Fritz which was a Swiss doll his uncle brought from Switzerland. Gradually Jayanto grew very fond of Fritz. Once some dogs catch hold of Fritz and ruin it. Jayanto buries Fritz near the deodar tree. In the night, Jayanto cannot sleep well as he is twice awakened by something strange. Firstly, a sound and then the pug marks of what looked like a rodent. They try to find it out but in vain. Next day, the narrator contemplates on digging the place near the deodar tree to take out whatever would be left of Fritz. He wanted to dispel fear from his friend's mind. Though he had no hope of getting much from the remains of the doll that was buried thirty years before , when the gardener dug the place he found a human skeleton of a foot , that's what was the size of the doll . Both the friends are terrified at the finding, for it meant that Fritz still longed for Jayanto and his company.

Throughout the story, there is constant feel of foreboding; Jayanto is not his usual self. He is rather worried and pensive about something. The past it seems is controlling him; he has not let go of his horrible yet sad memory of Fritz being torn by those street dogs. Thus, 'Fritz' with an unusual 'ghost' is basically a supernatural story. The author has been able to create a feeling creepiness by blending atmosphere, emotion and plot harmoniously together. The unusual, inactive ghost in the story makes it pleasant aesthetic experience.

Theme of the Story: 

Theme of Memory: 

Memory plays an important role in Satyajit Ray's short story ‘Fritz’. The memory of Jayanto has been presented in broad outline. Jayanto went to Bundi in Rajasthan with his father when he was a mere child of six and he retained his memories in his mind which helped him to relive the past by comparing the new Bundi with the old one. On reaching Bundi with his friend Shankar, some of the memories of his childhood days spent in the same circuit house thirty one years ago came crowding in his mind. He was feeling nostalgic. Slowly and silently he started recalling the doll gifted to him by his uncle. The doll looked very life like. It was named Fritz. Jayanto reminisced that he used to play with the doll all day long. Although it was not mechanised, it could bend and twist its limbs. Once some dogs caught hold of Fritz and ruined it. Jayanto buried Fritz near the deodar tree. 

Theme of Supernaturalism: 

While walking in the compound of the circuit house, Jayanto suddenly recalled a deodar tree which stood in the compound. When he looked for it, he found it in the far end of compound. It is from this point that the author brings in an element of supernatural and suspense in the story. It was the same tree where Jayanto buried his ruined doll Fritz. Having narrated the story about Fritz, Jayanto had grown more restless. He woke up at night and told Shankar that something had walked over his chest. Shankar, who was a rational man, did not believe in Jayanto's story at first and dismissed it as a bad dream. But next day, Jayanto told Shankar that it was Fritz who had come back to life and visited him the previous night. It seemed that Jayanto believed in the supernatural elements and that is why Shankar felt that it would be meaningless to discuss to a man obsessed with such an absurd idea. Shankar wanted to help Jayanto to rid of such weird notions; hence he suggested that they should dig up the ground in order to confirm the existence of doll which was broken in small pieces. They got the spot dug up and it was to their horror that they found a twelve inch long human skeleton. There was no sign of the doll. Thus the author leaves the story open - ended for the readers to conclude whether Fritz was a ghost or some kind of a supernatural being who died an unnatural death or a figment of Jayanto's imagination. 

Theme of Controlling Past and Conflict: 

The past also seems to be controlling Jayanto. His memories as a child differ somewhat to what he sees as an adult. The chair is an example. When Jayanto was a child he sat in the chair with his legs crossed believing he was sitting on a throne. However as an adult he is too big to do the same thing and as such what he remembers and what is reality for Jayanto are two different things which may suggest an internal conflict within Jayanto . If anything Jayanto may long for the simplicity of life that he felt when he was a child in Bundi. Though it is inevitable that everybody needs to eventually grow up, the reader senses that Jayanto has strong desires for the world to stop turning so fast on him. Though his memories are over thirty years old for Jayanto they feel as though they were only yesterday. This may be important as Ray may be suggesting that some people will not let go of their past and will always try and rekindle their past if they can. Something that Jayanto appears to be doing by way of digging up Fritz.

Surprising End:

The end of the story is also interesting as the reader is left surprised by what Jayanto and Shankar find when they are looking for Fritz. They find a twelve inch human skeleton which leaves the reader questioning whether Fritz was really a toy or he was human. It is a question that is difficult to answer. It might also be important to remember that Ray's intention at the end of story is to shock the reader unexpectedly. However the fact that just a skeleton is found and no pieces of metal could suggest that the skeleton does not belong to Fritz. There is no sign of Fritz's metal shoe buckles which one would expect to be found. Also Jayanto's memory may be called into question. Perhaps he has picked the wrong spot. What is really interesting at the end of the story is that the reader is left with more questions than answers. 

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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