‘The Letter’ is a touching story of an old man who is all alone and waits for his only daughter’s letter for five long years. He receives that letter only at his grave but for that he pays a price. While living a lonely, morbid life, he undergoes some strange experiences of life in his interaction with unsympathetic, callous and inhuman human species.
The relationship of a parent and child forms the core-centre of the universe and no other relationship can equal it in intensity. Grief and separation from a child becomes very poignant and unbearable for a father and eternal wait for a child’s letter can prove to be real torture. Coachman Ali is a symbol of endless patience, perseverance and his unshaken faith in Miriam’s letter doesn’t end with his death. Moreover, a grieving father can only understand the trauma and suffering of another father. Pain and suffering bring people together even if they are poles apart. So the author advocates the need for compassion, understanding, brotherhood, and empathy for the needy. Only this can sustain us in life. The story casts an irresistible spell by the freshness of its theme, style and technique, a rich variety of incident, plot and situation, and its diverse world of distinctly individual characters, brilliant and idealistic.
Coachman Ali is the central character of the story, The Letter. He is unable to bear the pain of separation when his daughter Miriam leaves him after her marriage. He feels lonely. He desperately waits for her letter, but in vain. In spite of being subjected to mockery and ridicule, he doesn’t lose hope and visits the post office every morning until one day when he dies of old age and suffering. Through Ali’s character, the writer has brought to light, the profound love a father has for her daughter.
The post master was an ill-tempered and haughty man who cared the least about any other person’s life and plight. He was very impatient and emotionless. He was not at all compassionate towards anybody in need and paid no heed to anyone. He was a very ruthless and practical man. However, his character saw a drastic change when he too became anxious of not receiving any news from his ill daughter. He deeply felt the suffering of Ali and realised the affection a father could have for his daughter.
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