FRITZ BY – SATYAJIT RAY
THE STORY IN DETAIL : The story revolves around two primary characters, Jayanto, the protagonist of the story and Shankar, the narrator of the story and Jayanto’s childhood friend. Both the friends completed their education from the same school and college. Jayanto’s job was in the editorial section of a newspaper while Shankar took the profession a teacher. In the beginning of the story begins with the two friends deciding to spend their vacation in Rajasthan. While majority of the people prefer to visit places like Udaipur, Jaipur, or Chittor in Rajasthan, Jayanto insisted on going to Bundi. Jayanto’s decision of going to Bundi confused Shankar, but still he consented to it. While traveling in train Jayanto informed Shankar that he had already visited to this place when he was six years old. His father worked in the Archeological Department. Hence after he grew up he always wanted to return back to this place so that he could compare the present Bundi with his childhood memory of the place.
In his childhood days when he came to Bundi with his father, they stayed in a Circuit House which was built during the time of the British, hundred years ago. After thirty one years when he again came to Bundi along with his childhood friend Shankar, he chose to stay in the same Circuit House. At Bundi Jayanto became very quiet. After having tea both Jayanto and Shankar went for to the garden for a stroll. While strolling Jayanto suddenly remembered that there was a deodar tree in the garden when he had visited the place thirty one years ago. Strolling in the garden Jayanto went to the far end of the compound and was full of ecstaty to find the same deodar tree to be still there at the exact spot where it had been during his previous visit at the age of six.
While staying in the Circuit House a string of memories ran through his mind. However, the most significant of all those memories that he recalled was the memory of a rag doll. This particular rag doll was brought by his uncle for him from Switzerland. The length of the doll was twelve inch. It looked like an old man and was dressed in traditional Swiss costume. The most uncanny thing about the doll was that the man who sold the doll to Jayanto’s uncle had told him to call it “ Fritz ”, since the doll would not respond to any other name. Little Jayanto became very fond of Fritz. He gave up playing with all other toys and spent all his time playing with Fritz.
Jayanto with a sigh told Shankar that he had lost the doll during his previous visit to Bundi thirty one years ago. One day he was having tea with his parents in the garden. The tea spilled on his pants. He had to rush inside to change. However, his doll Fritz, was left behind on the grass. When he returned he was astonished to find two stray dogs fighting with Fritz. Fritz’s clothes were torn into pieces and its face was in such a condition that it could not be recognised. Fritz was completely destroyed. Jayanto though sad, buried Fritz under the deoar tree.
The same night after Jayanto revealed to Shankar about Fritz a strange thing happened. Shankar and Jayanto went to sleep in their bedroom. Suddenly Shankar was awoken by a noise. He saw Jayanto sitting up on his bed. Shankar saw a look of anxiety on Jayanto’s face. When Shankar questioned him, Jayanto said that something walked over his chest while he was asleep. Shankar looked all over the room for the creature. As the door of the room was closed, Shankar was sure the creature could not have escaped. Jayanto showed Shankar some circular marks on his quilt. According to Shankar those marks could be of a cat. But Jayanto remained quiet. He did not say anything, however he looked disturbed. Shankar tried to pacify him by some soothing words and then ultimately went to bed.
The next morning Shankar and Jayanto both went to the Bundi Fort. It was a place worth visiting. But Jayanto was not at ease. He was feeling uncomfortable. He was looking gloomy and informed Shankar that he wanted to return back to the Circuit House. While returning back to the Curcuit House, Jayanto exposed to Shankar his personal view about the previous night’s intruder. Jayanto had a strong belief that the small circular marks on his quilt cover was of nothing else but the footprints of Fritz. Jayanto was sure it was Fritz who had come to their room the previous night. Shankar wanted Jayanto to get rid of his weird thoughts about Fritz. For this Shankar thought of a plan. He suggested of digging the ground where according to Jayanto Fritz was buried thirty one years ago.
They decided to dig the ground under the deodar tree. Accordingly the gardener of the Circuit House was asked to dig the ground. A strange thing happened on digging the ground. To their great astonishment and horror, a twelve inch long, and pure white human skeleton was found lying in the ground.
SUPERNATURALISM AS A THEME : What is Supernaturalism? Supernaturalism is a phenomena which can neither be explained logically not according to the laws of nature. It usually deals with supernatural elements like spirits, ghosts, fairies, witches and such. Satyajit Ray in an adept manner dealt with the theme of supernaturalism in his stories. His supernatural stories are wrapped in mysteries and they end with an interesting twist. Fritz too is one such story. It too deals with the theme of Supernaturalism, through a twelve inch long doll.
In this story the protagonist Jayanto and his friend Shankar visit Bundi in Rajasthan. It was the place which he visited when he was six years old. Jayanto’s father in the Archeological Department and this brought them to that place. They stayed in a Circuit House which was built during the time of the British hundred years ago. In their present visit to Bundi also they stayed in the same Circuit House. His second visit to this place made him very thoughtful. Strings of childhood memories thronged his mind. The most important among those is his doll Fritz.
Fritz was a twelve inch long doll dressed in Swiss traditional costume. It was a present from his uncle. One day while he was having tea in the Circuit House garden, some tea fell on his pants and he rushed in to change. After he returned he found two stray dogs fighting over his Fritz. No doubt the doll was completely destroyed and it was buried under the deodar tree which he recalled was at the far end of the compound. To his amazement the deodar tree under which Fritz was buried was still at the same place.
The same night Shankar woke up to find Jayanto sitting up. He told Shankar that something was walking on his chest. Small circular marks were also seen on the cover of his quilt. However Shankar could not find anything in the room and because the door was closed there was no chance of the creature to escape.
The next day they went to visit the Bundi Fort but Jayanto was uneasy and returned back. On the way back to the Circuit House Jayanto told Shankar the circular marks on his quilt was of nothing else but the footprints of Fritz.
To free Jayanto from his weird thoughts about Fritz, Shankar suggested to dig the ground under the deodar tree. Accordingly the gardener was asked to dig the ground. On digging the ground to their utter horror they found a pure white human skeleton twelve inch in length, which was the exact size of Fritz.
The story had been left open ended by Ray for his readers to imagine whether Fritz was some supernatural creature who died unnaturally or simply a piece of Jayanto’s imagination. Moreover, it creates a suspicion in the minds of the readers if Fritz was really an evil spirit as hinted by its seller, the old Swiss man that it would respond only if called Fritz. May be it is this reason why after digging the ground a twelve inch long human skeleton was found. The final conclusion may vary among the readers but the story is superb related to the theme of Supernaturalism.