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The Hills - Analysis

the hills by manoj das - analysis

    Manoj Das, the author of the story “The Hills",  is a bilingual poet, short story writer, essayist, critic and editor who writes in Oriya and English. He has received many awards including Veda Vyas Samman, Padma shri, Kendra Sahithya Academi Award etc. 

     The title "The Hills" is the most suitable for the story as it narrates the anxieties of  the protagonist Jaidev on the destruction of the hills of Salanda. Jaidev the lawyer, Sajan Roy the contractor, his two minor partners, Acharya, Sagar Chowdhary and the Raja are the main characters in the story. The story is a warning against the destruction of the ecosystem and a call for awareness to thwart it. The story assumes importance in the context of rampant deforestation and reckless exploitation of natural resources.

     The story describes two memorable and mysterious incidents that happens in the life of Jaidev when he goes to Salanda forty and twenty years back.In his first journey to Salanda, Jaidev was enthralled by the beauty of the Salanda hills and the forest surrounding it. So was Sagar Chowdhury who had accompanied Jaidev and his mentor Acharya to Salanda. Twenty years later when Jaidev goes to Salanda he notices that half of the forest is destroyed. His third return to the place leaves him startled. The forest had totally disappeared. The two hills flanking the bigger one had been reduced to barren mounds only a bit higher than ant hills. Half of the majestic middle one had been scooped out to construct a quarry. Jaidev realizes that he had been called in by the contractor to support his illegal constructions by destroying nature. He feels guilty at his complacence. 

     The disappearance of Sagar Chowdhury adds mystery to the story. Sagar Chowdhury sets off to the forest after flashes of lightning reveal a mysterious castle and the beauty of the hills to him. He doesnt come back again. When Jaidev goes to the hills twenty years later, he meets a hermit there. His conversations with the hermit remind Jaidev of Sagar Chowdhury. He is confused whether the hermit is Sagar Chowdhury but the question remains unanswered in the story. Sagar Chowdhury and Sajan Roy convey two different attitudes towards nature- one of identification and the other of destruction. Jaidev on the other hand represents the dilemmas of middle class male caught between Sagar Chowdhury and Sajan Roy.


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