ISC Echoes short story Fritz -Theme of Supernaturalism


Fritz : by Satyajit Ray

Question:  Discuss the theme of the short story ‘Fritz’.

Answer :   The theme of the story ‘Fritz’ is based on  supernaturalism

         Supernatural phenomena is the one that cannot be explained logically or according to the laws of nature. It usually relates to ghosts, witches, spirits, fairies or things beyond nature.

         Satyajit Ray is famous for his stories having supernatural overtones. In ‘Fritz’ Ray inserted the element of horror, mystery and supernaturalism by means of an inanimate object, a doll – ‘Fritz’.

      The idea of creating horror through a common object, as innocent as a doll, is the creepiest idea in the world and Satyajit Ray is the master of the art.

     In the story, a man Jayanto, revisits to a place in a small town of Bundi. He is accompanied by his friend Shankar – the narrator of the story. Most of the people visit famous palaces like Jaipur, Udaipur or Chittor in Rajasthan, while Jayanto insisted on going  to Bundi. Shankar was puzzled at Jayanto’s choice for the trip. Jayanto told Shankar that  he had visited Bundi, thirty-one years ago when he was a child of six. He always wanted to come back to Bundi to compare the modern Bundi with his childhood image of the place.

       They stayed in the same Circuit House, where Jayanto had stayed with his parents during his past visit. The moment he arrived in the Circuit House, he appeared to be in a pensive mood.

      Jayanto’s friend Shankar attributed his sadness to his memories of his childhood
     ” I noticed Jayanto had returned rather quiet after arriving in Bundi. Perhaps some of his memories had returned.”
     Jayanto was more emotional than most people. Shankar thought Jayanto was being nostalgic.
         While walking in compound of the Circuit House, Jayanto suddenly remembered that there used to be a deodar tree in this garden. He looked for it and found it in the far end of the compound. It is from this point that the author brings in an element of supernatural and suspense in the story. Jayanto went into flashback. He remembered his favourite doll ‘Fritz’. Shankar described it as
    ” One of Jayanto’s uncle had brought for him from Switzerland a twelve -inch – long  figure of an old man, dressed in traditional Swiss style. Apparently, it was very life-like. ” 


       It wore a smile on its face and a Swiss cap with a little yellow feather on its head. It’s clothes were perfect with all little details – belt, buttons, pockets, collars, socks and even little buckles on the shoes.
      The man who sold him had jokingly said to  Jayanto’s uncle,
  “He’s called Fritz . You must call him by this name. He won’t respond to any other”.
       Jayanto was very fond of Fritz, as he forgot all his other toys and used to play with only Fritz. He began to spend hours talking to him.

    Then he remembered how the doll was destroyed. Jayanto brought Fritz along with him  when he visited Bundi. Once he left the doll in the garden of the same circuit house and as a result two stray dogs destroyed the doll. With a heavy heart, he had buried the doll under the deodar tree in the far end of the compound.

     After telling the story about Fritz,Jayanto became more restless. He woke up at night and told Shankar that something had walked over his chest. Then he showed Shankar the ” tiny, brown circular marks ” on the cover of his quilt. But Shankar 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 it would be futile to talk to a man obsessed with such an absurd idea.

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

     Here, Shankar though a non believer in supernatural element, wished 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” exactly the size of Fritz.

       The author has left 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. This way the author presents the story with a supernatural theme.

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