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Watchman Of The Lake Summary By R.K. Narayan

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Watchman Of The Lake Summary
NameWatchman Of The Lake
AuthorR.K. Narayan


“Watchman of the Lake” is a play by R.K. Narayan, a famous Indian writer. The play is set in a village near the Baba Budan Hills in Karnataka, India. The story revolves around a man named Mara, who is a watchman of the lake. He has been given the responsibility of guarding the lake by the goddess who appears in his dreams. Mara’s duty is to ensure that no harm comes to the lake or its inhabitants. The play explores the theme of duty, faith, and devotion towards the divine, and how the actions of one individual can impact the lives of many.

Characters of Watchman Of The Lake

The main character of R.K. Narayan’s “Watchman of the Lake” is Mara, a simple and innocent rustic who serves as the watchman of the lake. He is a devoted and loyal person who takes his duty seriously and follows the commands of the goddess. The village headman is another character in the play, who is harsh and cruel to the laborers and treats Mara with contempt. The king is a third character who appears in the play briefly. Ganga, Mara’s son, is also a character who appears in the final scene and continues his father’s legacy as the watchman of the lake. The goddess, who appears in Mara’s dream, is a mythical character who commands Mara to build a tank to keep the river Veda from leaving the village.

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Watchman Of The Lake-Summary

“Watchman of the Lake” by R.K. Narayan is a play set in a village near BabaBudan Hills in Karnataka.

In Scene 1

Mara, the protagonist, approaches the village headman and his workmen who are mending the road for the King’s arrival. Mara wishes to inform the King about the tank, but the headman calls him a fool and orders his man Bhima to carry him to the cellar.

In Scene 2

The King arrives, and Mara jumps down from a tree to tell him about a dream he had. Mara describes the sacred spot where he stands and how the Goddess appeared in his dream, commanding him to tell the King to build a tank and not let the river Veda leave the village.

In Scene 3

A tank is built, and Mara is on strict watch to ensure that no creature is killed around the area. Mara notices thick clouds at the mountain top, followed by heavy rain.

In Scene 4

Mara visits the King’s palace at night and informs him that the lake is about to burst due to torrential rain. Mara tells the King about the Goddess’s appearance in his dream and suggests that the King avoid the catastrophe by cutting off his head and placing his son as the next watchman of the lake and then his son’s son to be the successor.

In Scene 5

Ganga, Mara’s son, is seen with his son at the shrine built for his father. Ganga explains the significance of the shrine and the story behind it, reminding his son that the duties of watching the lake pass on from Ganga to his son and future generations.

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About The Author

Rasipuram Krishnaswami Iyer Narayanaswami, better known by his pen name R.K. Narayan, was an Indian writer and one of the most celebrated authors of Indian literature. He was born on October 10, 1906 in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India and died on May 13, 2001 in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India. He was best known for his works set in the fictional South Indian town of Malgudi, which includes novels and short stories.


The play concludes with Mara’s son, Ganga, and his grandson at the shrine built for Mara. Ganga explains the significance of the shrine and the story behind it to his grandson, reminding him of the responsibility that will pass down to him and the future generations of watching over the lake. The play’s central message is about the importance of protecting nature and the consequences of disobeying divine commands. It highlights the significance of ancient beliefs and traditions and the need to preserve them for future generations. The play also emphasizes the value of responsibility and the impact of an individual’s actions on the community and the environment.

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