Fear conquers the way a person thinks by manipulating their mind to act differently and carry out sudden decisions without giving the idea a second thought. This is shown in the story, “The Tiger” by S. Rajaratnam through two different perspectives from Fatima, a last stage-pregnant lady, and the villagers in her town. Fatima remains calm at an immediate sight of a tiger, but on the other hand, the villagers are restless to rid the tiger without understanding the situation.
Afterwards, when Fatima is out of possible danger she feels sympathetic for the tiger as she sees the tiger is no threat to the village whereas the villagers become violent and decide to kill the tiger. Rajaratnam demonstrates how Fatima’s connection with the tiger influences her to view and react to the situation differently than the villagers. Therefore, if one takes time to analyze the situation in which fear is present, an individual can react in a more responsible manner.
Fatima controls her fear at the immediate sight of the tiger in a level headed manner whereas the villager’s reactions are more impulsive. On a cool evening, Fatima goes for a swim in where her relaxation turns into terror when a tiger appears on the river bank. Although a jolt of shock rushes to her, she finds a way to stay calm as she “had only a quiet fear of the tiger”. In consideration of the fright a person might have in such a situation will lead to make a quick decision; Fatima’s quiet fear shows she is able to remain calm and took the time to think.
Even after a long time, Fatima did not budge from the same spot and just stares at the vicious yet harmless animal. Using her time effectively, “Fatima had studied the animal very carefully and … she waited, her body tense in the water and radiating a feeling of fearful strength.” Evidently, she takes her time to observe the tiger even though she is scared which is an advantage because the tiger seems to have no interest in attacking her. Unlike Fatima, the villagers have a different reaction towards the presence of a tiger in their town. After listening to a twisted story from Fatima’s mother, the village, “was in panic… the women, clucking like hens at the sight of a wheeling hawk… [and] the men rushed around anxious.”
Clearly, the villagers show no form of patience nor sense to hold a group meeting to negotiate what needs to be done about this tiger. Furthermore, the villagers were impulsive as they were rushing around anxious to really do something as soon as possible instead of just relaxing and simply stopping to think about the situation. In the same way, this man named Mamood is really anxious about the tiger as he approaches Fatima’s house where there a desperate discussion takes place. Mamood prepares for the killing the tiger with all the, “impatience of one whose hunting spirit has been aroused. He was all for hunting the tiger at once, simply because he loved hunting.” Mamood is all for killing the tiger at once, he does not care what other people think because his intense passion for hunting kicks in, showing how impulsive his reaction is towards this situation. As frightened as Fatima is from the tiger, she maintains her fear with a sensible approach and gradually understands the tiger before making a decision, whereas the villagers are restless and in haste to rid the beast that is allegedly threatening their lives. On the whole, Fatima is sensible, calm and takes the liberty to study her situation at the presence of sudden fear where on the other hand, the villagers show an impulsive reaction as there are totally under pressure in fearful state.
Fatima is compassionate and sympathetic towards the tiger after she is out of danger, whereas the villagers are aggressive to the possible threat of a tiger and behave in an irrational manner. Firstly, Fatima watches as Mamood and the men walk towards the forest to hunt the tiger. Fatima disapproves with the villagers to attack the tiger, in fact “she was averse to having the tiger hunted and killed.” Fatima disagrees with the plan of the villagers to the solution of the tiger issue and shows sympathy for the tiger because she knows the tiger means no harm. Fatima talks to her mother about the tiger and she tries to explain what the villagers are doing is not morally right. In an argument between Fatima and her mother, Fatima tries to make her mother understand the tiger is harmless because “the tiger was not more than twenty meters away and could have sprung at me easily… but it didn’t.” Fatima realizes the tiger is no harm because she physically is close to the tiger where it could have easily attacked her but it did not, therefore she is compassionate towards the tiger considering that she fights to let it live. On the other hand, the villagers become violent and head to the forest with a hope of finding the tiger to kill it.
The villagers believe that a tiger by now, “drunk with human flesh is not a pleasant thing to have roving” around and therefore the “beast must be hunted down and destroyed without delay.” Evidently, the villagers choose a violent way to escape their fear, which is of course killing the “beast” also demonstrating that they have no feelings for the tiger. Back at Fatima’s house, she and her mother are in an argument where Fatima is supporting the tiger and how it should live, but it is too late. Fatima’s mother has an improbable explanation that, “somebody has to kill the tiger before it kills us. That’s sense.” The villagers, in particular Fatima’s mother’s mind is violent, as she clearly says the tiger needs to be killed and then saying “that’s sense” which one can see she strongly believes that she is correct about her violent ideas. Fatima was against the idea of killing the tiger as she had sympathy for it, on the contrary the villagers are aggressive enough to kill the beast instead of protecting themselves from it, which shows no possible threat. Overall, Fatima experiences a connection with the tiger which leads her to feel compassionate towards the tiger unlike the villagers who find a need to become violent as they didn’t take the time to analyze the situation for a more rational solution.
In conclusion, if one takes the time to review and balance the pros versus cons of the situation at the presence of fear, a more reasonable outcome is able to take place which does not include violence. Rajaratnam does a well job to show the different views of 2 opposite reaction to fear, on one hand there is Fatima who stays level headed at the immediate sight of a tiger and on the other hand there are the villagers who exaggerate the fear and are shown to be impulsive. Also, Fatima demonstrates sympathy and compassion for the tiger as she realizes it means no harm whereas the villagers show violence and aggressiveness towards the tiger as they believe it is their best option to safety. Therefore, fear is able to influence and control one’s wisdom by compelling them to undoubtedly carry out sudden decisions.