Character of Marco in R. K. Narayan’s The Guide

It should be mentioned that ‘Marco’ is not the real name of the scholarly husband of Rosie. The research scholar with his Eurocentric culture has been satirized. To Raju, he appears to be a space traveler or an astronaut. Marco is a shortened version of Marco Polo who is an archeologist. One can feel pity towards that character ‘Marco’ because it was the name given by Raju at the railway station (“I have, of course, no idea of the original Marco Polo’s appearance, but I wanted to call this man Marco at first sight, and have not bother to associate him with any other name since.”)

William Walsh comments on his personality as one who is “a queer, old abstraction of a man….” He has, however, the obsessive tenacity of a hardcore scholar, single-mindedly pursuing his very difficult field of research. For certain kind of people that only absolves all his vices. His scholarship and hard labour pay - his book, The Cultural History of South India, attracted a good publisher and complimentary reviews.  He is a man of a few words. He never forgets to acknowledge Raju’s help in finding the Mempi Caves in his book.

Marco marries Rosie through a matrimonial advertisement. During the period of independence -in which time period this novel is set - it was not at all a normal thing to marry a devadasi voluntarily by a high caste, well-established man like Marco. However, his liberalism ends there. Marco has nothing to share with his wife either as a husband or as a human being. He has neither love nor care for his wife. He has a very low opinion of her art which he calls a ‘street acrobatics’. He is very self-centred and appears extremely inhuman to Rosie. When he comes to know about Rosie’s adultery, he is shocked, and he never forgives her. Finally, he abandons Rosie and departs alone to Madras. He is obsessively devoted to his pursuit of deciphering ancient art and painting in known or unknown remote caves and temples to the point of total neglect of his wife’s desires, wishes and tastes. Marco never treats her as a human being who has some individual expectations from her life. His male ego coupled with his pride of his knowledge makes him blind to the fact that Rosie is not an artifact to be put and showcased in the bed room.

Having said that, one cannot help suspecting that R.K Narayan was less interested in developing the character of Marco. He used this character in developing the consistency of the plot. Compared to Rosie and Raju, the character of Marco is not sufficiently explored to the reader. As with all the other characters and situations in the novel, Marco, too comes across to the reader filtered through Raju’s perception, rather than as an independent character in his own right.

Last modified: Wednesday, 30 September 2020, 9:16 PM