ISC Echoes Fritz : the role of memory in the story


Fritz by Satyajit Ray

Question  : Describe how memory plays an important role in Satyajit Ray’s short story ‘Fritz’ ? 

Answer : In ‘Fritz’ by Satyajit Ray, the plot of the story is directed by the memories and feeling of Jayanto.

     Jayanto revisited the place of his childhood and gradually recollected his memories about his past which have the directions to the story.

       Initially, the narrator was puzzled at Jayanto’s choice for trip to Bundi, as he said, ” most people go to Jaipur, Udaipur or Chittor when they go to Rajasthan; but Jayanto kept talking about going to Bundi.” 

        Later Jayanto told Shankar that he had visited Bundi when he was a child of six, with his parents ,thirty-one years back.  “He had always wanted to return after growing up just to see how much the modern Bundi compared to the image he had in his mind.” 

        Thus it was the memory of Jayanto who drove them to a place like Bundi.

    Jayanto and Shankar stayed in Circuit House, it was the same place, where Jayanto had stayed with his parents during their visit thirty-one years ago. After arriving at Bundi, Jayanto turned rather quiet and nostalgic remembering old days. When they went for a stroll in the garden after tea, Jayanto suddenly remembered that there was a deodar tree in the garden, he went to the far end of the compound and gladly exclaimed ” Yes it’s  here ! Exactly where it was before! ” 

       But he became disturbed as he could not recall the memories related to the deodar tree.
        Jayanto’s memories began returning one by one after some time and in bits and pieces, he recalled the whole story of his doll.

         It was a doll which his uncle has brought for him from Switzerland, it was “a twelve -inch -long figure of an old man , dressed in traditional Swiss style. Apparently, it was very life-like.” 

      It had a smile on his face and it wore a Swiss cap with a little yellow feather. Its clothes were perfect with all the little details – belt, buttons, pockets, collars, socks and even little buckles on the shoes.

     The man who sold the doll to his uncle told him jokingly ” He’s called Fritz. You must call him by this name. He won’t respond to any other. ” 

       Jayanto became so fond of Fritz that he gave up all the other toys  and began to spend all his time with Fritz. He would talk to the doll for hours.

     Then Jayanto became quite upset remembering how Fritz was destroyed by two stray dogs, when he left the doll in the garden. Then he burried the doll under the same deodar tree in the garden.

       These sad memories of Fritz arouse a nostalgic feeling in Jayanto. He became restless and he could not enjoy his holidays.

     He woke up at night and told Shankar that something had walked over his chest. Shankar consoled him BT saying that it might be a cat or a rat  and tried to find out the animal in the room . Then Jayanto showed him ” tiny, brown circular marks” on the cover of his quilt. Shankar being a rational man dismissed it as a bad dream.

     But next day, Jayanto told Shankar that it was ‘Fritz’ who had comeback to life and visited him the previous night. He also concluded that the little marks on the quilt were the footprints of Fritz. It seemed that Jayanto was haunted by the memory of Fritz and became obsessed with the doll.

     To help Jayanto get rid of such weird notions, Shankar suggested that they should get the earth below the deodar tree dug up to find anything related with Fritz.

         It appears that Shankar , though a non believer of supernatural elements, wanted to check if Jayanto was right . On digging the ground, to their horror they found “a twelve – inch – long, pure white, perfect little human skeleton.” 

        This way the plot development was directed by Jayanto’s memories.
       It was the past memories of Jayanto which drove them to a place like Bundi . It was the memories of Fritz which made Jayanto believe that Fritz had comeback to life and visited him. Finally it was these memories which made them to dig the ground under the deodar tree.

     This way the memories played an important role in adding a supernatural element in the story ‘Fritz’.

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