THE GUIDE – STRUCTURE
The novel begins as a third person narrative – but Narayan limits the narrative perspective or standpoint to Raju’s consciousness almost entirely. We never enter, for example, Rosie’s or Marco’s consciousness – which has the effect of keeping them ambiguous or mysterious – especially Rosie. Just once, we seem to move away from Raju’s perspective when Velan’s idiot brother relates his encounter with Raju to the villagers. Otherwise, Narayan sticks consistently to the Raju standpoint.
The third person narrative is more neutral than the first – but because of the restriction above we are still within Raju’s mind and his assumptions.
The novel begins towards the chronological end of the story. The use of the two different narratives, the unchronological order of the account, and the fact that we know, right from the start, that Raju’s life has met with some disaster which landed him in prison creates mystery or interest and conflates the past, present and future.
Much of the novel is Raju relating to Velan his life story in the first person, in a vain attempt to show that he is not a holy man with gifted insight but an ex-convict, ex and present conman, living by his wits parasitically off the villagers’ credulity.
A first person narrative is by definition subjective and limited to the consciousness of one person. Since this person is relating his own account, it naturally expresses his own view or prejudices so that the reader must always be conscious that things may not be quite what the first person narrator says that they are.
In the course of his first person narrative, Raju frequently blames Rosie, Marco, fate or whatever for his troubles and also often condemns himself without meaning to – although as often he gives a credible explanation for why he behaves the way he does. For example, he attributes his tendency to mislead people or lie, to desire to please them which stems form his essential good nature (combined with...