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Nov 8, 2017 in Literature


Q&A by Vicas Swarup Literature Analysis Example

Vikas Swarup's novel “Q&A” is the perfect example of a story where an ordinary man proves the wrong understanding of a fact that if somebody is poor, he or she can hardly reach success and live a happy life.

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The Plot of the Novel

Ram Mohammad Thomas has been arrested for correctly answering twelve questions on Who Will Win a Billion? Because a poor orphan, who has never read a newspaper or gone to school, cannot know the name of the President of America, or the location of the Pyramids, or plays of Shakespeare. Unless he has cheated” (Swarup). Of course, who would believe a person who has no formal education and deep knowledge of various spheres of life? Nobody. No one can agree that such a man can know all answers to these questions. Who could assume that a man from the street can win one billion? Even local citizens refused to believe in this as the profession of a waiter meant that a person could not afford something better for himself or herself. For example: “Are you out of your mind, Neil? Nanda admonishes him. “How can you expect him to speak English? He’s just a dumb waiter in some godforsaken restaurant, for Chrissake!” (Swarup).

Notwithstanding everything the man answered correctly all questions that were asked to him and, as a result, should have won the money. However, producers and show host Prem Kumar, having no money to pay him, could not invent anything else than to ask police to arrest him for cheating. Police, in their turn, believed the producers and show host, seemingly supposing that a street child can hardly know peculiarities of modern life. As the boy mentioned: “Well, wasn’t I lucky they only asked those questions to which I knew the answers?” (Swarup). A common man became the victim of his own knowledge. Furthermore, each question was the clear representation of those periods of life that occurred in his life. So, each event of his life that had relation to the question comprises a full answer to the question why it was an easy task for Ram. His heyday, unfortunately, became an unpleasant incident.

Ram decided to tell his loyal lawyer, Smita Shah, the whole story of his life, everything that can help free to him. So, he started telling it, bit by bit, about his unusual, strange, and sometimes severe life. First of all, he was brought up by an English-speaking priest who had taught him a lot of how to live honest and stirring life, helping other people and himself to reach success. Ram Mohammad Thomas was working on different jobs, namely this had made his experience of life richer and fuller. His first job was the help about the house an aging Bollywood actress, then he overstrained in a foundry; he was a tourist guide in Agra and, finally, a waiter at one of the bars in Mumbai. He had a best friend, Salim, who was also an orphan; this friend had played a part in their common adventures.

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The main events of Ram’s life happened when he was working as a tour guide at the TajMahal, namely there he had met his true love, a young prostitute whose name was Nita. Being in love with the girl, he wanted to marry her, but, unfortunately, her pimp, who was also her brother, had refused Nita. It was not the only unhappiness at that time. Ram’s good friend was dying of rabies. 400,000 rupees cost a vaccination. Furthermore, Nita’s brother demanded the same sum. Ram decided to give the money, which he had stolen from Shankar’s uncaring mother, to an English teacher whose son urgently needed a rabies vaccine, instead of paying the pimp. The boy knew that he would for sure demand even more money in future. Actually, the teacher later gave a piece of advice on the question concerning William Shakespeare when Ram could use one of the tips. Then, Ram told his solicitor that his main aim was not only to win the prize on the show, but also to buy Nita’s freedom for this money. So, it is clearly shown that all his short life was full of events which were the main result of his great winning at a show.

So, what was it, luck or a deep knowledge of the questions? The answer is clear, it is shown throughout the whole text that he was lucky to know all the answers. The matter is that he simply remembered the episodes from his life which was related to the questions, and, finally, in such a way, he was able to give correct answers. “The best passages from the novel are full of details and observations from everyday life. One example might be the following passage about riding trains:

“Train journeys are about possibilities. They denote a change in state. When you arrive, you are no longer the same person who departed. You can make new friends en route, or find old enemies; you may get diarrhea contaminated water. And, dare I say it, you might even discover love. As I sat in lower berth number three of coach S6 of train 2926A, with fifty thousand rupees tucked inside my underwear, the tantalizing possibility that tickled my senses and thrilled my heart was that I might, just might, be about to fall in love with a beautiful traveler in a blue salwarkameez”. (Swarup) Here can clearly be seen that Swarup starts with a generalization about the experience of traveling by train, and ends with details that are unique to Ram's particular problems (and hopes, including a girl in a blue salwarkameez in his cabin in the train). (Swarup)

So, it can clearly be seen from this passage that life was the main teacher for Ram. Moreover, journeys by train were not only about new possibilities, but it was also the way this man understood the life.

“You learn a lot about the world by living in it (Ram has survived abandonment, child abuse, murder). And just as the quiz show format is meant to distill his life story (each question prompts a separate flashback), Ram's life seems intended to distill the predicament of India's underclass in general” (The Cohen’s Bookshelf). So, Ram Mohammad Thomas is the main hero of the book and a representative of each Indian citizen. He shows people his culture, good and bad sides, difficult situations, and solutions to them. The whole book is about Ram proving his innocence and at the same time telling the story of his life.


So, after analyzing each chapter, every key point of the book, there can be made a conclusion. First of all, the class of a person, whether he or she is dispossessed or rich, does not necessarily characterize the possibilities and further opportunities of that person. In this case, Ram Mohammad Thomas is an Indian citizen who proved that even a poor man can unfold his indigenous skills and with luck show everyone that everything is possible. Then, Ram was given the chance to survive and he used it entirely, he trusted his solicitor, telling everything that could help him to get out of the prison and become a free person again. Finally, he proved his entire innocence; he defended it, of course, with the help of a lawyer.

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