A Pinch of Snuff Summary Questions and Answers
Write down a summary of A Pinch of snuff.
Given the prevalence of VVIP culture in India, it is quite natural to have a comic fallout in everything about the so-called influential persons. We have politicians and ministers who are pompous but basically ignorant. They depend on their secretaries and pas for disposal of their files. Ministers are an insecure lot. They aspire for all kinds of comfort and luxury; but they are afraid of losing their, portfolios or are desirous of such assignments which could improve their fortunes astronomically. They are therefore always in need of men who could help them their material goals.
In such a scenario enters a man like Nanukaka. Being endowed with a gift of acting and discerning eyes he is a fit person to prey upon such VVIPs. He can put on airs, he can disguise himself quite skilfully and can manipulate persons and things in his favour.
Manohar Malgonkar has created fin Nanukaka an endearing example of a resourceful person who, by his tricks, is able to befool the mighty officials and ministers and enjoy his success. We also enjoy his stratagems and feel the power of poetic justice in his pranks.
The young narrator, working in the Delhi secretariat, is informed by his mother of the arrival of Nanukaka. The latter is to meet a minister. The narrator dutifully escorts him to the residence of the minister. Nanukaka emerges back in a sullen mood.
The next day the narrator takes Nanukaka to Lala Sohanlal. As they are waiting to be ushered in the presence of the Lala, Nanukaka goes on eulogizing Hajrat Barkat Ali. The effect is magical. Lala comes out to receive Nanukaka personally. He then pleads humbly to Nanukaka to do a favour for his son. In a more adventurous turn, Nanukaka dons the role of an astrologer and makes a stunning impression upon the Welfare Minister.
Write down a character sketch of Nanukaka.
Nanukaka is a man of the world who has knowledge of the selfishness and weaknesses of highly placed individuals over whom he can play any trick without compunction. He typifies the class of men that are found everywhere, especially in the Indian power circle. After independence, unfortunately, power has remained in most cases in the hands of the people who have risen in politics either because of wealth or of muscle power Naturally, their people are quite vulnerable-anybody who promises to further enhance their interest can have an easy influence over them. Nanukaka is one person who understands the basic hollowness of the so called powerful people and makes them bend before him by using psychological pressure.
Interestingly, Nanukaka is shown to be in love with the regional costumes. But again he wears a silk turban or carries a countrymade towel, not for patriotic reasons but to create an impression of being the son of the soil, of being a man of the grassroots.
Nanukaka can disguise himself so well that he can be taken to be a person that he wishes to be understood. He forces the narrator also to wear jodhpurs so that their princely connections could be apparently spotted.
And Nanukaka is a great conversationalist. He uses words, phrases and even distorted facts to make an impression on the listeners. It is by feigning intimacy with Hajrat Barkat Ali that he gains the audience of Lala Sohanlal.
“Quite a resourceful person in his own ways, Nahtikaka regains a comic figure” as he is used by the author to expose-the horrible weaknesses of the Indian political system.
Discuss the significance of the title. How is it related to the theme of the story?
The title ‘A Pinch of Snuff’ is very appropriate and very symbolic. Like tobacco, snuff is also a thing, of addiction. But stuff has been a favourite of aristocratic people who keep a stall silver vial from which they take out snuff in small quantities and thrust it gently into their nostrils. The entire paraphernalia-from holding the silver vial to feeling the snuff and pushing it gently inside the nostrils-makes an interesting spectacle. Nanukaka, whether he is addicted to snuff or not, understands the aristocratic touch it gives to his personality. Therefore, he has stuck to the habit of taking a pinch of snuff, especially during moments of dramatic significance. To suggest how deeply he is in through or to show that he is quite relaxed he would put a pinch of snuff into his nostrils.
Since everything inNanukaka’s personality is designed to make impressions on powerful people this pinch of snuff is also calculated to make others understand his superior status. Naturally A Pinch of Snuff makes a very appropriate title.