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The Punishment
Prepared by Dr. Baburam Swami - Assistant Professor - English

The Punishment by

Rabindranath Tagore

Rabindranath Tagore‟s short story, The Punishment deals with Chandra who is the wife of Chidham Ruhey. She is deceived by her shrewd husband and

consequently she has been hanged. Chandra is the central female character in this story. Dhukhiram and Chidham are two brothers live together though their wives are fighting whenever they get chance to blame each other. One day Dhukhiram and Chidham go to Zamindar‟s court to repair the roof from where water is coming inside. They do not like to work for Zamindar because he does not offer justified wage and

they have to listen too much comments. Anyhow they complete their work and reach to home; they find both the wives are sitting quietly. Dhukhiram asks for food. Radha calls in anger and shouts loudly, „Where is the rice to offer? Did you bring rice to cook or am I supposed to earn it myself? 49 With very angry mood, Dhukhiram attacks Radha with the reaping hook. She falls down and instantly dies. Chandra cried, Chidham covers Radha‟s face. Dhukhiram throws the reaping hook and sits on the

floor covering his face with both hands. Meanwhile Ramlochan comes to see Dhukhiram and happens to see Dhukhi is crying. Ramlochan asks further clarification on his crying; Chidham says that

Chandra has attacked Radha with the reaping hook and Radha has died. Chidham asks what he should do to save his wife. Ramlochan is a prime minister of the village on legal matters. He says, “Chidham you go to police station and tell them that Dhukhiram killed her wife in anger when she did not serve him food. This way you

can save your wife.‟ Chidham‟s throat had dried up. He said, “I would get a wife again but not brother if hanged.” 50 Thus, Chidham does not think about his wife even

he becomes ready to blame his wife. The news spreads in the village that Chandra has stabbed Radha with reaping hook. Chidham puts pressure on his wife to accept the crime and adds that he will save her. But Chidham is very shrewd person he loves his

brother more than his wife and he wants to save his brother. Chandra is standstill when her husband asks her to accept the crime. Even Chidham consoles her that no

need to worry he will convey to the police and the magistrate as well. However, Chandra does not care to listen a single word but is standstill. Thus, through presentation of Chandra, Tagore exposes the problems of conventional woman who lives under supremacy of male. In patriarchal society, woman is anticipated only to do home duties and follows instructions of men.

Emotions and love of wife is not very significant for husband in this backdrop Chandra accepts her crime in front of Deputy Magistrate. It seems that Chandra

knows the cunning nature of her husband therefore she has started looking in the opposite side when Chidham comes in the court. Though Judge says to look towards

the eye witness and tells what relation she has with him. She replies as; Covering her face with both her hands, Chandra said, “He is my husband.”

“Doesn‟t he love you?

“God knows”

“Do you love him?”


Thus, Chandra clearly clarifies that she is not loved by her husband. Therefore it seems that she wants to get free from the control of her monstrous husband. After a

long discussion, Judge sums that Chidam and Dhukhiram has claimed the crime only to save Chandra from the punishment of „to be hanged‟. Chandra has never changed her statement. On the day of punishment a sympathetic civil surgeon asks Chandra whether she wants to meet anyone. She replies that she wants to meet her mother. At last doctor says that her husband wants to see her. But Chandra replies “Let him


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