The Jewel in the Crown (novel)
First edition (UK)
|Media type||Print (Hardback & Paperback)|
|Followed by||The Day of the Scorpion|
- 1 Plot introduction
- 2 Plot summary
- 3 Characters in "The Jewel in the Crown"
- 3.1 Ronald Merrick
- 3.2 Hari Kumar
- 3.3 Daphne Manners
- 3.4 Lili Chatterjee (Lady Chatterjee, Auntie Lili)
- 3.5 Ethel Manners (Lady Manners, Auntie Ethel)
- 3.6 Ludmila Smith (Sister Ludmila)
- 3.7 Shalini Gupta Sen (nee Kumar) (Aunt Shalini)
- 3.8 Colin Lindsey
- 3.9 Pandit B. N. V. Baba
- 3.10 Edwina Crane
- 3.11 Judge Menen
- 3.12 Dr. Anna Klaus
- 3.13 Mr. Srinivasan
- 3.14 The Accused
Much of the novel is written in the form of interviews and reports of conversations and research from the point of view of a narrator. Other portions are in the form of letters from one character to another or entries in their diaries. Still others take the form of reports from an omniscient observer.
The story is set in 1942 in Mayapore, a fictional city in an unnamed British province of India. The province, which is located in northern India, shares characteristics with Punjab and the United Provinces. The names of places and people suggest a connection to Bengal; however, the physical characteristics place the setting in north-central India, rather than in northeast India. The province has an agricultural plain and, in the north, a mountainous region. Dibrapur is a smaller town about 75 miles away.
Mayapore, although not the capital of the province, is a relatively large city, with a significant British presence in the cantonment area, where native Indians are not permitted to live. Across the rail lines lies the “black town,” where the native population resides. There is also a Eurasian Quarter, the residence of the mixed-race (Anglo-Indian) population of the city.
Daphne Manners, who has lost her immediate family in England, comes to India to live with her only remaining family member, Lady Manners. Lady Manners sends her to Mayapore to stay with her Indian friend, Lady Chatterjee.
While staying with Lady Chatterjee, whom she calls "Auntie Lili," Daphne meets Hari Kumar. He is an Indian who was brought up in England and educated at Chillingborough, a public school that Daphne's own brother attended. Hari speaks only English, but his father's financial collapse and suicide obliged Hari to return to India. Daphne learns to despise the attitudes of the English in India and also grows to love Hari.
Meanwhile, the local police superintendent, Ronald Merrick, becomes infatuated with Daphne. Merrick, of lower-middle-class English origin, is resentful of the privileged English "public school" class and contemptuous of Indians. Hari thus represents everything that Merrick hates.
After Daphne and Hari make love in a public park, the Bibighar Gardens, they are attacked by a mob of rioters who by chance witnessed their lovemaking. Hari is beaten and Daphne is raped repeatedly. Knowing that Hari will be implicated in her rape, Daphne swears him to silence regarding his presence at the scene. But she does not count on the instincts of Ronald Merrick, who, upon learning of the rape, immediately takes Hari into custody and engages in a lengthy and sadistic interrogation which includes sexual humiliation. Merrick also arrests a group of educated young Indians, including some of Hari's colleagues at the Mayapore Gazette.
Daphne steadfastly refuses to support the prosecution of Hari and the others for rape. She insists that her attackers were peasants and included at least one Muslim (although she was blindfolded, she could tell he was circumcised) and could not be young, educated Hindus like Hari and his acquaintances who have been taken into custody. The inquest is frustrated when Daphne threatens to testify that, for all she knows, her attackers could have been Englishmen.
Hari puzzles the authorities by refusing to say anything, even in his own defence (he has been sworn to secrecy by Daphne, and he honours that pledge to the letter). Because the authorities cannot successfully prosecute him for rape, they instead imprison him under a wartime law as a suspected revolutionary. And Daphne's refusal to aid a prosecution for rape leads to her being reviled and ostracized by the English community of Mayapore and of British India as a whole, where her case has become a cause celebre.
Although unknown to Hari, Daphne is pregnant; the child's paternity is impossible to determine, but she considers the child to be Hari's. She returns to her aunt, Lady Manners, to give birth, but a pre-existing medical condition results in her death. Lady Manners takes the child, Parvati, to Kashmir. Parvati's physical resemblance to Hari satisfies Lady Manners and Lady Chatterjee that Hari was her biological father.
Characters in "The Jewel in the Crown"
Merrick’s fears, desires, ambitions, and hatreds are the catalyst for this story and the subsequent three novels in the series. He comes from a lower middle-class background and keenly feels his inferior position in British society. In India, he finds a place where he can be on top, and he has developed a sophisticated justification for a virulent brand of racism. Merrick strongly believes that whites are the natural rulers of the world and non-whites must be made subject to them. He also believes that non-whites cannot ever improve their position and that they must be reminded of this.
For his own part, however, Merrick seeks to climb the ladder of British society. He is intelligent, resourceful, and ruthless in both his quests: to keep Indians in their place and to improve his own social rank. Merrick uses the appearance of frankness and honesty as a tool to impress his social betters. He often reminds them that he is "only a grammar school boy" and not, for example, the product of an exclusive school like Chillingborough.
Other characters in the story become important when Merrick "chooses" them for his personal attention. He chooses Hari Kumar, because Kumar represents what Merrick hates most, a dark skinned man who thinks he is as good as whites. He also chooses Daphne Manners, who represents to him an opportunity to attain a higher social class. However, Daphne soon becomes something else he hates, a white who thinks of Indians as equals.
Actually, to Merrick, Kumar might be the more important figure. It is strongly suggested that Merrick is a repressed homosexual, and his fascination with Kumar reflects not only his racist tendencies, but also a sexual attraction to the handsome and educated Indian and the resulting self-loathing for being attracted to a non-white. This comes out with the sexual aspects of Merrick's torturing of Kumar after Daphne's rape.
Kumar's father, Duleep Kumar, had been a successful businessman who hoped that his son could become English. So, he moved to Didbury and sent his son to Chillingborough, an exclusive public school. Hari has lived until has youth as a privileged British boy. However, before Hari can finish school and take his place in English society, his father dies - bankrupt.
Kumar has no money and nowhere to go, except back to India, to live with his father's widowed sister, Shalini Sengupta. His Aunt Shalini loves him, but Hari is shocked by the standard of living in India. And he is surprised to find that, whereas in England, he was largely accepted as a member of the upper classes, in British India, he is denied all entrance to Indian British society.
In Britain he had grown up and been educated, as a non-white presence within British society within the level of the professional class, he could live and function as an Indian within British society, in England.
But in British India this was impossible, all Europeans lived, worked and functioned as a separate racially privileged class, separated from non-whites; regardless of their economic, educational, or social station. Kumar is lost and from his point of view, he has no present and no future. He has only his past and he clings to it through his correspondence with his school friend Colin Lindsey. At first, Colin continues to treat Hari like his best friend, but the relationship begins to grow distant, and once Colin himself joins the army and comes to India, he cuts Hari off. Hari even comes face-to-face with Colin on the cricket pitch and Colin fails even to recognize his old friend.
After failed attempts to enter the business of his Aunt Shalini's brother-in-law, Romesh Chand Sengupta, Hari finally finds his place as a copy editor and writer at the Mayapore Gazette, an English-language newspaper. It's the one place in Mayapore where his English background benefits him.
Hari meets Daphne Manners, who treats him as he was used to being treated, a gentleman, and in her he finds an escape from his present nightmare.
Hari's steadfast refusal to speak in his own defence, and his sticking to an unconvincing denial and the assertion that he hadn't met Daphne on that fateful night, seems suspicious to British and Indians alike. Ironically, his conduct is derived from strict adherence to the code of honour of the British ruling class, as instilled in the graduates of public schools - whereby one's word is a sacred bond which must be kept at whatever cost, all the more so when the word was given to one's beloved and her good name is at stake.
The only one to realize this is Daphne, who loves Hari and understands him, and who in a perceptive moment says "What they don't understand is that Hari is an English boy".
While several of this book's characters feature prominently also in later books of the series, Hari Kumar hardly appears after the end of this one.
Daphne is repeatedly described as plain or large or unattractive or, in her own words, "galumphing". She is a bespectacled tomboy who has, as a result of the war, lost both her parents and her brother. Her closest living relative is her great-aunt, Ethel Manners, who lives in India. So, she goes to live in India. Auntie Ethel sees that Daphne doesn't have enough company of her own age in Rawalpindi, so she sends her to live with her old friend, Lady Chatterjee, in Mayapore.
Daphne was working as an ambulance driver during the Blitz in England, but a heart condition required her to stay away from such excitement. She is a high-spirited, good-natured girl, who is shocked by the race prejudice shown by the English in India. She tires of their shallow entertainments and finds herself attracted to a young Indian, Hari Kumar, who went to Chillingborough, just like her brother did. Indeed, unlike most of the English in Mayapore, Hari seems to be of the same social class as Daphne and they seem to have more in common with each other than anyone else.
At the same time, Daphne is courted by Ronald Merrick, the local police chief. She senses something sinister about Merrick, and is put off when he lectures her about the propriety of relationships of any kind between whites and Indians.
Eventually, she falls in love with Hari, and circumstances lead them to consummate their love at the Bibighar Gardens. Unfortunately, this happens during a period of civil unrest in the province and throughout India. Daphne and Hari are interrupted in their post-coital embrace by a gang of toughs who bind Hari, put a bag over Daphne's head, and rape her repeatedly. Her first instinct is to protect Hari, and she sends him away with instructions to say nothing except that he has not seen her. To her chagrin, this backfires, when Hari refuses to speak in his own defence except to say that he has not seen Daphne.
Daphne refuses to co-operate in the prosecution of Hari and the other educated, middle-class boys who have been arrested in connection with the investigation. This earns her the enmity of much of the British community in India. She is seen as a traitor to her race for protecting her brown rapists and for wanting to bear the resulting child. In the end, Daphne longs for Hari and longs to present him with their child. However, her heart ailment betrays her and she does not survive the childbirth.
Lili Chatterjee (Lady Chatterjee, Auntie Lili)
Lady Chatterjee, a proud Rajput noblewoman, is the widow of Sir Nello Chatterjee, a Bengali industrialist knighted for his founding of Mayapore Technical College, and a leader of Indian society in Mayapore. She is a close friend of Lady Manners and welcomes her orphaned grandniece, Daphne, as a guest in her home, the McGregor House.
When Hari Kumar is arrested at the Sanctuary, Sister Ludmila informs Romesh Chand Gupta Sen, the brother of Hari's aunt, and Romesh Chand engages the services of a prominent local lawyer, Mr. Srinivasan. Srinivasan tells Lady Chatterjee about Hari's case. She asks her friend Judge Menen to investigate why Hari is being held, and as a result, Merrick is instructed to release Kumar very quickly. Lady Chatterjee, intrigued, invites Hari to a party, where he fails to engage in the expected courtesies, but where he meets Daphne. Lady Chatterjee watches warily as Daphne and Hari, whom she dislikes somewhat, become closer, and as Ronald Merrick expresses interest in Daphne.
Lady Chaterjee's discomfort with Hari Kumar may perhaps be related to what both share: identities that blur the Anglo-Indian social and ethnic partitions. However, while Lady Chaterjee's wealth and established position within Raj society put her in a position of stability and comfort, Hari Kumar's rapid descent from Chillingborough schoolboy to impoverished reporter for the Mayapore Gazette leaves him in an extremely tenuous and vulnerable state, and not natural in either culture.
Ethel Manners (Lady Manners, Auntie Ethel)
Lady Manners is the widow of Sir Henry Manners, a former governor of the unnamed province that encompasses Mayapore. She has retired to Rawalpindi. After her niece, Daphne Manners, loses her family in England, she invites her to come live with her in India. Thinking that she will find more company of her age and excitement in Mayapore, Lady Manners sends Daphne to stay with her friend Lady Chatterjee.
The British in India are scandalized by Lady Manners's behavior and they feel betrayed by her. They do not understand why, in their view, Daphne protected her attackers. They do not understand why Daphne did not abort the baby. They do not understand why Lady Manners kept the child. And they do not understand why Lady Manners gave the child an Indian name, Parvati.
Ludmila Smith (Sister Ludmila)
Ludmila is a European woman of mysterious origins who has come to India to tend to the poor and the sick, she is not an actual nun; her title of "sister" being conferred upon her by the Indians she helps. As a result, the Catholic and Anglican communities view her mission with some suspicion. Ludmila has independent sources of funding, and operates a free clinic, and sanctuary for the sick and dying. She is assisted in her work by Mr. DeSouza.
Sister Ludmila is indirectly responsible for bringing Hari Kumar to the attention of Ronald Merrick. On one of her routine patrols of a wasteland next to the river, Ludmila comes across an unconscious Hari, who has spent the night drinking with his colleagues from the Mayapore Gazette after his encounter with Colin at the cricket pitch. Hari spends the night at the Sanctuary. In the morning, as he is washing himself, Ronald Merrick comes calling in search of suspicious characters. Instead he finds Hari, who has decided to play the part of the English gentleman and treats Merrick as an impudent social inferior. Merrick takes the bait and makes Kumar a key player in his orbit. All this is observed by Ludmila, who predicts an unfortunate outcome for all as the result of this meeting between Merrick and Kumar.
Ludmila's clinic also provides a meeting place for Daphne and Hari during their courtship. Society makes it difficult for them to meet in public, so they both volunteer at the clinic in order to spend time together.
Shalini Gupta Sen (nee Kumar) (Aunt Shalini)
Aunt Shalini is the sister of Hari Kumar's late father and the widow of Prakash Gupta Sen. After his father's death, she is Hari's closest living relative and he comes to live with her. Shalini learned English from Hari's father as a child, and is happy to be able to speak English once more when Hari comes to live with her as it reminds her of those early days when Duleep cared enough to educate her. Shalini, aware of Hari's misery at coming to India, tries to make him as comfortable as possible in her modest home, and attempts to get him to learn to speak Hindi, but Hari is resistant to his tutor, a garlic-breathed, turbanned man ("Pandit Baba," see below) whom we later learn plays an influential role in the Indian independence movement. Shalini also enables Hari's relations with Daphne Manners by inviting her to dine with them at her home. Shalini is devastated by Hari's arrest, and in a pivotal later scene, throws herself at Ronald Merrick's feet at a train station before Susan Layton's marriage to Teddy Bingham. Her hysterical demonstration, which the embarrassed Merrick dismisses as the ravings of "a madwoman," is seen as by Susan—and perhaps the others—as a bad omen.
Colin was Hari's (or, rather, "Harry's") best friend at Chillingborough. His family even hosted Harry during holidays. After Harry's father dies, however, Colin's father changed his mind about Harry and preferred that Colin no longer associate with him. When Harry returned to India, Colin envied him this adventure and kept in touch through letters; in order to preserve his relationship with Colin, Harry tried to maintain his optimistic outlook in his letters.
Colin joins the army and learns he will be stationed in India, where he plans to meet Harry. However, as soon as Colin arrives in India, his perceptions quickly change, and one day, when Harry encounters Colin on the cricket pitch in Mayapore, Colin fails to recognize his old friend. Harry, devastated, spends the night drinking hooch with some acquaintances until comatose, in the morning, he first encounters Ronald Merrick.
Pandit B. N. V. Baba
"Pandit Baba" is the alias of a man who has connections with Indian nationalists. (A pandit is a man learned in Hindu scripture; baba means "father" and can be used as a term of respect; pandit baba is used in India as a term of address for an educated or important man, such as Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first prime minister.) Pandit B. N. V. Baba makes no direct appearance in this story, but he has connections with several of the other characters. A devout Hindu, he is respected in the Indian community of Mayapore; but he has earned the suspicion of the British authorities, especially Ronald Merrick.
Aunt Shalini, hoping to ease Hari's acclimatization to life in India, hires Pandit Baba as Hari's tutor in Hindi. The lessons are not successful — Hari is resistant to Pandit Baba's language lessons and his political and religious views — but this connection between Hari and Pandit Baba becomes a key factor in the eyes of Ronald Merrick.
Miss Crane is a missionary who operates schools in India as part of the Church of England organisation. During the riots which preceded Daphne Manners's rape, Edwina Crane is caught in the countryside "on the road from Dibrapur" with Mr. Chaudhuri, a teacher at a mission school. Despite all Edwina's attempts to save him, Mr. Chaudhuri is murdered by a rampaging mob. Edwina is devastated by the murder and despairs of the India she loves. Ronald Merrick interviews her as part of the investigation into the murder, and all she says is "There is nothing I can do," a sentence that becomes important to other characters. Later, Miss Crane commits suicide by immolating herself in a burning shack, in the manner of a Hindu widow committing suttee.
The title of the book, The Jewel in the Crown, comes from a painting that Miss Crane uses to teach her students English. The painting depicts Queen Victoria on the throne of India, receiving the homage of the princes of India, in the manner of a durbar. The painting is an allegory, in which a jewel being presented to Victoria represents India itself. Edwina Crane uses the allegorical painting to replace a portrait of Gandhi that once hung in her classroom; formerly a great admirer of the Mahatma, she had become disillusioned by his later political philosophy, which perhaps seemed treacherous (to most Britons) to the preservation of the Anglo-Indian alliance during the Japanese aggressions of WWII.
Judge Menen is the Indian judge who presides over the inquest into the rape of Daphne Manners.
Dr. Anna Klaus
Dr Klaus is a doctor on the staff of the hospital where Daphne Manners volunteers as a nurse. She also does medical work at the Sanctuary which Sister Ludmilla runs. Dr. Klaus, who we learn is a Jewish refugee from Germany, also personally attends to Daphne Manners after the Bibighar rape, at the home of Lady Chaterjee.
A lawyer and a friend of Lady Chatterjee
Along with Hari Kumar, several other Indians were arrested in connection with the rape of Daphne Manners, they were:
- S. V. Vidyasagar, Kumar's former colleague at the Mayapore Gazette
- Narayan Lal, a clerk at a bookstore
- Nirmal Bannerjee, an unemployed electrical engineer
- Bapu Ram, an electrician trainee
- Moti Lal, a former clerk for Romesh Chand Gupta Sen, who has a criminal record
- Puranmal Mehta, a stenographer at a bank
- Gopi Lal, the unemployed son of a hotel owner