Advertisements
Advertisements

Rain Questions and Answers by W. S. Maugham

Rain Questions and Answers by W. S. Maugham

 

 

MARKS-10/15

Advertisements

1. Theme

[Q. Discuss the themes presented in the story Rain by W. S. Maugham.

Or,

Q. What values can be learned from the story “Rain” by W. Somerset Maugham?]

“Rain” charts the moral disintegration of a missionary attempting to convert the Pacific island prostitute Sadie Thompson. It was nearly bed-time and when they awoke next morning land would be in sight. Dr. Macphail lit his pipe and, leaning over the rail, searched the heavens for the Southern Cross. After two years at the front and a wound that had taken longer to heal than it should, he was glad to settle down quietly at Apia for twelve months at least, and he felt already better for the journey.

Rain has kept its reputation and has been adapted as a play and as several films. A boat, which was en route to another port, is temporarily stranded on the South Pacific island village of Pago Pago due to a possible cholera outbreak on-board. Discharging among others, Alfred Davidson, a self-righteous missionary, his prim, proper wife, and Sadie Thompson, a prostitute.

Sadie spends her time partying and drinking with the American soldiers stationed on the island. Sergeant Tim O’Hara, nicknamed by Sadie as “Handsome”, falls in love with her. Her wild behavior soon becomes more than the Davidsons can stand and Mr. Davidson confronts Sadie, resolving to save her soul.

However, when she rebels and dismisses his offer, Davidson has the governor order her deported to San Francisco, United States where she apparently committed a crime years earlier. She begs Davidson to allow her to remain on the island a few more days; her plan is to flee to Sydney, Australia instead.

During a heated argument with Davidson, Sadie suddenly experiences a religious conversion and agrees to return to San Francisco and the jail sentence that is waiting for her there. The evening before she is to leave, Sergeant O’Hara asks Sadie to marry him and offers to hide her until the Sydney boat sails, but she is under Davidson’s spell and refuses. Later, while native drums beat, Davidson succumbs to Sadie’s beauty and accosts her. The next morning, he is found dead on the ocean shore a suicide. Now disillusioned with Davidson’s teachings, Sadie switches back to her old self and goes off to Sydney with O’Hara to start a new life.

Religion –

The theme is widely opened in the story: the reader follows the Davidsons, missionaries, who play one of the main roles here. They seem to be true, righteous Christians. At least, they pretend to be so in their words. But when watching how they treat Mrs Thompson, it becomes clear that they are not so holy, as they want to look: they are callous, they are addicted not to their faith, but to the idea of this faith. And this idea is interpreted by them in their own way: they think that people must become Christians no matter if they want i Implemented in their making Mrs Thompson repent her sins. Revenge or not.

Their point of view is clearly

The theme of revenge Is presented in two reverse directions in the story: Mr Davidson’s revenge for Mrs Thompson and her friends’ scoffing at him and successive Mrs Thompson’s revenge for actually Mr Davidson’s revenge. The first of revenges was Mr Davidson’s making the woman’s soul suffer and be in constant fear. He went to her room everyday and nobody knew what they were doing there, but Mr Davidson achieved his goal: Mrs Thompson, being first a cheeky woman, has changed into a haggard and mild-mannered one.

As for the second revenge, Mrs Thompson didn’t to her goal openly. The reader doesn’t even realize that she wanted to take revenge over Mr Davidson. Only at the very end, when Dr. Macphail and other people on the island found Mr Davidson’s dead body on the beach and saw Mrs Thompson, again alive and in a good mood, they (and the reader as well) understand, that her contrition and misery were just artificial instruments in making her goal come true. 

“Rain,” like others of its kind, is an exploration of what happens when East meets West in a tropical setting. The clash between Pacific and European cultures informs every aspect of “Rain,” and for each Anglo-Saxon character, the tropics represent some different and alien reality. The Davidsons see the South Seas as a vast pagan chaos waiting to be colonized and Christianized.

“Rain” is also a bitter indictment of intolerance, both political and religious. The Davidsons are self-righteous and an authoritarian, accomplished destroyer of Samoan culture, “Rain” is a powerful critique of American and Western European imperialism. The story also talks about theprostitution which is present in our community.

Mrs. Davidson is a cold and prudish woman to whom even European-style dancing is immoral, and it is little wonder that Davidson seeks sexual satisfaction from a prostitute. Davidson himself is merciless in his cruel insistence that Sadie return to the United States; he is a single-minded bigot whose suicide is the product of an unbearable but self-imposed religious guilt.

In that it criticizes and exposes the colonizers who would transform the tropics into a morally upright and repressive extension of the West, who seek to impose white culture and religion on the world at large, “Rain” is a powerful critique of American and Western European imperialism.

2. The Significance of the Title

[Q. What is the meaning of the title ‘Rain’? Discuss briefly its significance.

Or,

Q. Why is the title called “Rain” and in what way is the relentless rain and the human heart similar to each other?]

“Rain” is one of his best-known short stories. It all happens in1916, when a group of passengers along with a missionary and a prostitute travelling from Honolulu to Apia. An epidemic of measles breaks out suddenly and all the fellow passengers are forced to stay for a couple of weeks in Pago Pago in American Samoa.

 

The missionary, Davidson, through his influence with the local governor, is able to find rooms for all the passengers in the establishment of Mr. Horn, a local trader. He is a stern New England evangelical Puritan with an unbending sense of duty and an unyielding horror of what he believes to be sin. His wife, Mrs. Davidson is also in possession of a mind akin to his own. Along with them the Macphails are temporarily detained from continuing their journey to Apia. Dr. Macphail is a Scottish doctor travelling to the South Seas to recover from war wounds.

The doctor couple is weak but tolerant people with no fixed convictions. Both the couples soon find out that another of their shipmates, a second-class passenger named Sadie Thompson, would be lodging there. She is brash, vulgar and entirely sensual. Sadie immediately sets up shop, complete with loud music, parties and of course gentlemen visitors.

Davidson is particularly troubled by her lack of what he considers decent and moral behavior. He has a sudden revelation that Sadie, who boarded the ship at Honolulu, must be a denizen of Iwelei, that city’s notorious redlight district, which has only recently been shut down through the efforts of Hawaiian missionaries.

Further, she must be plying her trade and continuing a life of sin here in PagoPago, just below them in her room. Then the missionary believes it is duty not only to suppress vice wherever it may manifest itself but also to save Sadie’s soul. An epic struggle between them ensues.

Outward appearance seems to show that he is succeeding his cause to the extent that Sadie is so remorseful that she has accepted the need for her to be sentenced to prison. Just as it appears that Davidson has won, he is found on the bench with his throat cut. Sadie has succeeded in seducing him and he has killed himself with feelings of moral failure and frustration. Maugham does not go to sentimentalize Sadie.

On the contrary, when the missionary has killed himself, the storyteller allows her to cruelly flaunt herself in front of his window, laugh and spit. She savors her triumph and at once resumes the only way of life she knew, from which Davidson had tried to dissuade her. It is a real tragedy and an uncharitable story told unsparingly about the whole missionary profession. The story shows one that Maugham has the ability to make the reader see what is not written.

“Rain” is a powerful piece of fiction that really does not belong to it’s time. Maugham was well ahead of the curve in 1921 when the story was first published and his tale of Miss Sadie Thompson and her effect upon a righteous man looks forward to the post-WWII era when the true value of Freudian psychology was becoming more evident.

If psychologists were moving in tandem to abandon much of the baggage of Freudian theory, writers of fiction and the academic who critiqued their work began to embrace concepts like repression, projection and sublimation. “Rain” is perhaps the first enormously popular short story by a famous writer to reject moral instruction in favor of a detached amoral examination of the lust and violence from a Freudian perspective of repressed desires rising to the surface of the conscious mind.

By almost any other British or American prior to 1921, “Rain” would have become a work of literature described as a “moral lesson.” Biblical themes of sin and punishment would have pushed the climax in a completely different direction.

Without the benefit of Freud’s theory of the subconscious becoming more well-known among intellectuals, Miss Sadie Thompson would either have wound being the character who dies at the end in a display of Old Testament judgment or the rain of the title would have become a symbol of her literal redemption by-turning her back on her life of sin and accepting the moral instruction of the righteously superior Rev. Davidson.

Maugham was writing in a different time and moral climate, however; one in which the subconscious drives could not be attributed to a will weakened by moral degeneracy. Just as Miss Sadie Thompson’s promiscuity and crude lasciviousness is never directly criticized by Maugham, neither is the overpowering lust which drives the man of God to commit rape. There is a reason that the scene of the actual rape is not portrayed and it is the same reason that Davidson’s suicide is kept in the wings.

That the reader never really knows for sure what happened-and that it is certainly within the realm of possibility that Davidson’s death was the result of guilt, but desperate self-protection is the literary conveyance of theme to structure. The structure of “Rain” mimics the process of Freudian repression. Sometimes only the outcome is explicable to us while the events leading to that outcome remain wrapped in mystery.

Rain can be seen as the primal power of nature that can give life or cause death. The tropical rain in the heat of Samoa provides the ingredients for passions of duty and sex to become entwined. Logic and social pretense become muddied in the downpour.

The rain stands here as the allegory to those events which had happened on the island. Firstthere was no rain there: all the people were quiet and friendly. But when the quarrel between MrDavidson and Mrs Thompson begins, when Dr Macphail is angry for Mr Davidson, it starts raining and it’s continuing harder and harder till the very end of the story, when the story reaches its peak Mr Davidson is killed. Therefore, the title ‘Rain’ definitely suggests the central theme of the short story of Maugham.

3. The Structure and Setting

[Q. Comment on the structure of the story Rain.

Or,

Q. Where is the story set? What happens in that place? How do those occurrences form a unique structure in the story? Explain illustratively.]

“Rain” (1921) by W. Somerset Maugham is a fish-out-of-water story, in which characters wholly unsuited to their environment become marooned somewhere due to external circumstances. As a result, they undergo many trials and change as a result… or they don’t, if it’s a tragedy.

This story, published in 1921, is set near an island specifically on a boat in the Pacific. In this story, a missionary called Davidson attempts to convert and reform a prostitute named Miss Thompson, or Sadie. After he attempts to have her removed from the ship, Davidson begins spending more time with her. Sadie seems to have changed until tragedy strikes and she is back to her typical ways.

“Rain” is told primarily from the point of view of Macphail, an intelligent and modest man to whom the world of the Samoan Islands is entirely unfamiliar. Thus, the reader shares with Macphail the sense of newness, of exoticism of setting and climate so central to the story’s effectiveness. Macphail’s viewpoint controls the reader’s perceptions in other ways as well, particularly as concerns the relationship between Sadie and Davidson:

Because Macphail is basically an agnostic, willing to live and let live, he serves as an obvious foil to Davidson, and the reader comes to share with Macphail an impatience with the missionary’s religious authoritarianism. Like Macphail, the reader ignores hints of what is going on between Davidson and Sadie until the end of the story when, with Macphail, the reader must reinterpret past events in the light of Davidson’s suicide. This masterful use of a limited point of view ensures that the surprise ending delivers a strong perceptual shock.

Maugham’s prose is famous for its directness, its urbanity, and it’s polish. Like much of his fiction, “Rain” is written with a minimum of ornamentation, concentrating almost unflinchingly on the narrative line. Maugham thought of himself primarily as a storyteller rather than as a literary artist, but “Rain” belies such modesty. Not only is it a highly entertaining morality play about temptation, sin, and salvation, but also, at its best, it is an incisive and even allegorical critique of the white man’s colonial impulse.

Setting is central to the effectiveness of “Rain.” Probably the most famous of W. Somerset Maugham’s numerous tales set in the tropics, “Rain,” like others of its kind, is an exploration of what happens when East meets West in a tropical setting. The clash between Pacific and European cultures informs every aspect of “Rain,” and for each Anglo-Saxon character, the tropics represent some different and alien reality.

The Davidsons see the South Seas as a vast pagan chaos waiting to be colonized and Christianized. For Sadie Thompson, the islands represent an escape, a place begin life anew, far away from the repression exercised by Davidson and his kind. Even the even-tempered Macphail is affected by the strange world of the tropics:

Appalled by the squalor and disease of Pago-Pago, he is driven to distraction by the unremitting rain. Much like “The Letter” and “The Outstation,” two of Maugham’s other South Seas tales, “Rain” is a study of the bizarre behavior that results when a European temperament must face prolonged exposure to tropical climates and customs.

The incessant tropical rain is a pathetic fallacy which foreshadows tragedy. In this case we have Christian missionaries hellbent of converting native Pacific Island culture into something foreign and entirely unsuitable (Protestant, puritanical, cold climate culture). It’s worth remembering that the mainly white, Christian audience of Somerset Maugham’s contemporary readership had to convert themselves to the view that this was not acceptable.

These characters get stuck on an island because of a travel ban due to a measles outbreak, which is deadly for local populations if not to themselves. By the time we’re told there’s no hotel for them at Pago Pago, we despise them so much we are glad to see them suffer.

Somerset Maugham does a good job of placing us geographically within the first few lines of the story: ‘It was nearly bed-time and when they awoke next morning land would be in sight. Dr. Macphail lit his pipe and, leaning over the rail, searched the heavens for the Southern Cross.’ From that we know that it is dark  our characters are on a ship  on the deck of a ship  they are in the Southern Hemisphere  nearing a landmass.

I deduce that because this person is looking for the Southern Cross, they have traveled from the Northern Hemisphere (otherwise it would be a fact of the skyscape and unremarkable). Perhaps they are about to arrive in New Zealand or Australia or one of the Pacific Islands.

I also deduce that because they are travelling a lengthy journey by ship that this takes place in the early 20th century or before, and that the person smoking is male, because smoking was a masculine thing to do in this era. We are soon told that they are about to reach Apia, which is the capital of Samoa. In the background, a war is going on.

Pago Pago is the territorial capital of American Samoa. Somerset Maugham stopped here in 1916. The ship will stop there, some passengers are supposed to disembark, the rest are supposed to travel to Apia.

SHORTCOMING – Who is the main character of “Rain”? Reverend Davidson is the main focus of the narrator’s point of view. Normally, the main character is the character who has the anagnorisis. Because he gets killed, the reverend gets no revelation, though he may have realised something before he died. (However that death happened.)

DESIRE – The reader is let in on only one side of Reverend Davidson’s desiresthe desire to punish others for what he considers human failings. The part of his desire kept back as a reveal is that he is the worst of the lot.

This second part of his psychology isn’t much of a surprise, and I wonder if the modern reader is more jaded, and if a contemporary of Somerset Maugham would’ve been genuinely surprised that a reverend (even a fictional one) would behave in such a way. The fairly recent history of reverends and priests as above human infallibility is very recent.

OPPONENT The group’s opponent is Sadie Thompson, as she doesn’t conform to their high moral standards. They dislike her for her corrupting influence and

perhaps because of fears of contagion sex workers are considered dirty, because they can be a vector of sexually transmitted disease in a time when people don’t understand how these things work. –

Davidson’s other opponent is the doctor, who the audience sympathizes with. The doctor is a non-confrontational, laid back sort of man, so not exactly a formidable opponent. He gives up trying to keep Sadie being sent back to San Francisco, where she will serve time in prison, presumably for the crime of sex work.

PLAN- The reverend plans to send Sadie Thompson to San Francisco and sets that up very effectively, by strong arming. First he plans to do sex to her, and then she’ll be safely gone, so she’ll never tell.

– The doctor has ‘counterattack’ – to try and persuade people with reason not to enforce Sadie’s return to San Francisco, but to allow as she wishes to find straight work in Sydney. This plan is ineffective. Someone else the murderer has a different plan. Either Sadie kills him, the reverend’s wife kills him, or else she somehow finds out, leading the reverend to kill himself.

BIG STRUGGLE – –

Leading up to the big struggle we have a ‘big struggle-state-of-mind’ in which the author describes the weather, the surroundings, in an ominous, restless kind of way: [Dr Macphail] scratched his mosquito bites. He felt very short-tempered. When the rain stopped and the sun shone, it was like a hothouse, seething, humid, sultry, breathless, and you had a strange feeling that everything was growing with a savage violence.

The natives, blithe and childlike by reputation, seemed then, with their tattooing and their dyed hair, to have something sinister in their appearance; and when they patterned along at your heels with their naked feet you looked back instinctively.

 

You felt they might at any moment come behind you swiftly and thrust a long knife between your shoulder blades. You could not tell what dark thoughts lurked behind their wide-set eyes. They had a little look of ancient Egyptians painted on a temple wall, and there was about them the terror of what is immeasurably old.

Note that the violence in that paragraph is imagined, and W. Somerset Maugham is making use of sideshadowing when describing what a character thinks could happen. That paragraph is necessary not only as foreshadowing because the big struggle which leads to a death takes place off-stage.

ANAGNORISIS – The ‘twist’ in this tale is that we are first given a false Anagnorisis. (Though if you read it like me, you saw it coming.)

“It’s a true rebirth. Her soul, which was black as night, is now pure and white like the new-fallen snow. I am humble and afraid. Her remorse for all her sins is beautiful. I am not worthy to touch the hem of her garment.”

 

***** For remaining questions-answers[PAID-PDF, Send me msg in JOIN CHAR.

                                          *********************************

Rain Questions and Answers by W. S. Maugham Rain Questions and Answers by W. S. MaughamRain Questions and Answers by W. S. MaughamRain Questions and Answers by W. S. MaughamRain Questions and Answers by W. S. MaughamRain Questions and Answers by W. S. MaughamRain Questions and Answers by W. S. MaughamRain Questions and Answers by W. S. MaughamRain Questions and Answers by W. S. MaughamRain Questions and Answers by W. S. MaughamRain Questions and Answers by W. S. MaughamvRain Questions and Answers by W. S. MaughamRain Questions and Answers by W. S. Maugham

Rain Questions and Answers by W. S. MaughamRain Questions and Answers by W. S. MaughamRain Questions and Answers by W. S. MaughamRain Questions and Answers by W. S. MaughamRain Questions and Answers by W. S. MaughamRain Questions and Answers by W. S. MaughamRain Questions and Answers by W. S. MaughamRain Questions and Answers by W. S. MaughamRain Questions and Answers by W. S. MaughamRain Questions and Answers by W. S. MaughamRain Questions and Answers by W. S. MaughamRain Questions and Answers by W. S. MaughamRain Questions and Answers by W. S. MaughamRain Questions and Answers by

Rain Questions and Answers by W. S. MaughamRain Questions and Answers by W. S. MaughamRain Questions and Answers by W. S. MaughamRain Questions and Answers by W. S. MaughamRain Questions and Answers by W. S. MaughamRain Questions and Answers by W. S. MaughamRain Questions and Answers by W. S. MaughamRain Questions and Answers by W. S. MaughamRain Questions and Answers by W. S. MaughamRain Questions and Answers by W. S. MaughamRain Questions and Answers by W. S. MaughamRain Questions and Answers by W. S. MaughamRain Questions and Answers by W. S. MaughamRain Questions and Answers by

Rain Questions and Answers by W. S. MaughamRain Questions and Answers by W. S. MaughamRain Questions and Answers by W. S. MaughamRain Questions and Answers by W. S. MaughamRain Questions and Answers by W. S. MaughamRain Questions and Answers by W. S. MaughamRain Questions and Answers by W. S. MaughamRain Questions and Answers by W. S. MaughamRain Questions and Answers by W. S. MaughamRain Questions and Answers by W. S. MaughamRain Questions and Answers by W. S. MaughamRain Questions and Answers by W. S. MaughamRain Questions and Answers by W. S. MaughamRain Questions and Answers by

 

Leave a Comment

error: Content is protected !!
× Join Chat