Tara, et al.


Analysis of paragraph, p. 274-5


·         Structure:  technique throughout; here, contrast story with summary and moral


·         Semi-Animated Elements:  ascribed limited degree of agency and “character” (the pathetic fallacy)   


·         Amplificatio:  description of devotees


·         Religion:  Catholicism / Protestantism


·         Culminating Parallels


·         Religious Nihilism


·         Old / Young


·         Important / Trivial




Narrative Segment



‘Gradually the isle lost its bad character for terror;

Isle semi-animate – has “lost” and has a “character”


and in spite of some old devotees, who told their blood-discoloured beads, and talked of Seeva and Harree, and even held burning splinters of wood to their scorched hands, and stuck sharp pieces of iron, which they had purchased or stolen from the crews of European vessels, in the most fleshy and sensitive parts of their bodies, – and, moreover, talked of suspending themselves from trees with the head downwards, till they were consumed by insects, or calcined by the sun, or rendered delirious by their position, – in spite of all this, which must have been very affecting, 

Religious symbolism; Description of devotees’ practices; Old


the young people went on their own way, – the girls offering their wreaths to Camdeo, and the youths invoking Krishnoo,



till the devotees, in despair, vowed to visit this accursed island, which had set every body mad, and find out how the unknown deity was to be recognised and propitiated; 

Religious nihilism


and whether flowers, and fruits, and love-vows, and the beatings of young hearts, were to be substituted for the orthodox and legitimate offering of nails grown into the hands till they appeared through their backs, and setons of ropes inserted into the sides, on which the religionist danced his dance of agony, till the ropes or his patience failed.

Culminating parallels


In a word, they were determined to find out what this deity was, who demanded no suffering from her worshippers, – and they fulfilled their resolution in a manner worthy of their purpose.

Summary and moral


‘One hundred and forty beings, crippled by the austerities of their religion, unable to manage sail or oar, embarked in a canoe to reach what they called the accursed isle.  The natives, intoxicated with the belief of their sanctity, stripped themselves naked, to push their boat through the surf, and then, making their salams, implored them to use oars at least.  The devotees, all too intent on their beads, and too well satisfied of their importance in the eyes of their favourite deities, to admit a doubt of their safety, set off in triumph, – and the consequence may be easily conjectured.

Amplificatio – horizontal elongation of a subject; Religion


The boat soon filled and sunk, and the crew perished without a single sigh of lamentation, except that they had not feasted the alligators in the sacred waters of the Ganges, or perished at least under the shadow of the domes of the holy city of Benares, in either of which cases their salvation must have been unquestionable.

Important and trivial given equal weight; conclusion to story of devotees and implicit moral


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Document created November 9th 2000