Short Story Leaving: Synopsis, Character and Characteristics, Theme, Value and Messages, Tone Mood and Atmosphere, Language Style
Synopsis Short Story Leaving
Leaving, set in Tanzania is about a young man’s dream to go abroad to study. His mother is reluctant to let him go for various reasons. Her husband’s early death had made life difficult but she had managed to bring up five children by herself. Two of the older girls are married and Firoz the older brother is working in a big shop. She wants the younger two to do well in their studies and thus, sells the store to move to Upanga, a smaller and quieter town.
An ex-teacher from America, Mr. Datoo inspires Aloo and he decides to apply to the universities there. To his great joy, Aloo obtains a scholarship to study medicine in America and thus, wishes to reject the offer to study agriculture locally.
His mother, however, is unhappy to let him go so far away. She tells him that they will still need some money to pay for the air ticket and other expenses. She also feels that it will be hard to let him go from home. She is dismayed and feels betrayed that he wishes to go without considering her feelings.
Seeing his eagerness, she decides to talk to the school officer to get some advice. Mr. Velji, the officer tells her that Aloo will get a good education abroad but that she may lose her son. Aloo states firmly that children going abroad do not get lost.
Aloo’s mother advises him not to give up his values and beliefs before she can allow him to go. Aloo is thrilled to be in a foreign land and writes home excitedly on seeing London where he stopped over on the way to America. But his mother wonders sadly if he will ever return to the family again.
Themes Short Story Leaving
Grab the opportunity.
Aloo has a chance to improve himself, if he fails to take it, such an opportunity may not come again.
Making sacrifices for the family.
Aloo’s mother sacrifices her chances of a second marriage and a better life for the sake of the children. She sacrifices again by letting Aloo go to America out of love for him and because she wants him to do well in life. Aloo promises not to marry a white girl or take up bad habits because he loves his mother. He is also willing to make some sacrifices.
Not losing one’s values and beliefs.
Aloo promises not to marry a white girl or take up smoking and drinking. Migrating in search of greener pastures will always remain an option.
Family, heritage and traditions matter in every home.
Aloo belongs to a warm and loving family. His mother cares for his well-being and he cares about her. Moving from one continent to another does not mean that one should give up traditions and customs followed for centuries.
Conflicts arise but can be overcome with rational thinking and consideration.
Aloo wants to study in America and his mother is unwilling to let him go. However, rational thinking prevails and she agrees to let him go as it is for his good. She cares for his happiness and knows that he is an intelligent person who will use the opportunities well. Aloo too will not go against his mother but is disappointed that he cannot go overseas and there lies his personal conflict. He wants to make something of himself but obstacles are there.
The youngest in the family. Gifted student, gets straight A’s in his results; inspired by an ex-teacher to apply to go to an American university. Wants to study medicine, not agriculture as required by the local university. Wins scholarship in America but is disappointed when his mother is reluctant to let him go.
A loving son. Cries when his mother expresses her fear that she may lose her son.
Happy when his mother relents and allows him to go to America. Loves his family; he is not defiant and wants everyone’s love and support.
Delighted to see London, thrilled with everything new. Thirsting for knowledge. Very eager to better himself and reach for the stars, has a great potential to do well. Promises to uphold the principles of his culture and traditions and not take up bad habits.
Lost her husband at 33, had to look after 5 children. Refuses to re-marry as she does not want the children to be sent to a children’s home.
Very hard-working, raises 5 children, gets 2 daughters married off, elder son takes a job, concentrates on improving the lives of the younger two.
Moves town so that they can do better at school.
Loves her children so much that she finds it hard to let them go.
Sensitive to their needs, so relents finally to Aloo going abroad
A very good mother, if she is selfish, it is out of love for her children.
A proud, independent woman, she is a woman of substance.
Lives with her husband in town.
Rich housewife, lives in Tanga on the coast north of Dar es Salaam
The older brother, drops out of school.
Works in the office of a big shop.
Ex-teacher, returns from America to visit. A favourite of the boys, inspires Aloo to apply to an American university.
A school officer, with a large head and small neat body, wears black glasses and looks clever.
He is impressed with Aloo’s results and advises him to take up the offer to study in America. Warns the mother that she may lose him.
The youngest daughter in the family. It is from her point of view that we see the family. Smart, studying at the university.
Caring, sees her mother’s pain and understands what she has gone through. Supportive and loving too.
Observant and sensitive, knows that her brother really wants to go overseas and is not keen on studying locally.
Plot Short Story Leaving
The narrator’s mother is sad when the older daughters get married and leave home. Her older brother doesn’t finish school. He takes a job in a big shop. Now the mother wants the youngest two children to do well in their studies and thus sells their store. She moves to a smaller town so that they can concentrate on their studies.
Mr. Datoo, an ex-teacher comes from America to visit and inspires Aloo to apply to study at an American university. To Aloo’s delight, Aloo is accepted by the California Institution of Technology with a scholarship. He can now reject the offer to study agriculture at a local university. However, his mother is unhappy as she has to find some money for the airfare and other expenses. She is also angry that he wishes to go so far away from the family. Aloo is sadly disappointed with his mother’s attitude.
Knowing Aloo’s feelings, she decides to meet one of the school officers, Mr. Velji to ask for advice. Mr. Velji is impressed with Aloo’s results and says that he should accept the offer but also says that she will lose her son as he is going very far away from the home. Aloo protests to his mother that many parents send their children overseas and do not lose them.
Aloo’s mother relents and decides to let him go overseas for his education. Aloo is delighted but his mother is sad. The narrator looks at her mother and realises all the hardships her mother had gone through in bringing up the five children. Her mother had sacrificed much so that the children can be together and have a bright future.
Aloo goes off to study after promising that he will not get into bad ways or give up his values and beliefs. Aloo writes excitedly from London where he stops over before proceeding to America. He is thrilled with all the wonderful things he sees there. He is very happy with the new opportunities presented to him while his mother wonders bleakly if she will see him again.
Setting Short Story Leaving
It is set in Upanga, Tanzania, a place where they can hear the sounds of insects and small animals. They are close to the wild land. It is a lonely, frightening place, the narrator says.
Aloo’s family is interested in education and self-improvement. The mother is very hard-working and wants the best for her children. The people are generally poor. The mother is keen to break out of the poverty cycle though education.
It is set in the present times.
Moral Values Short Story Leaving
Rational thinking is important.
Aloo’s mother has to stop being emotional and think rationally to bring happiness and peace back into the home. She is shown as being balanced and rational as she even sells her store and moves house to ensure that the children concentrate on their studies. She is willing to discuss Aloo’s future with a school officer before making a decision.
Diligence is what brings success to Aloo.
He is hard-working and smart. He does well in his studies and passes exams with distinctions. While applying to the American universities, Aloo reads up on the strange and interesting courses that are available and about the exciting new world that is waiting for him.
Responsibility can bring success in life.
Aloo’s mother is a responsible mother. She makes sacrifices for the sake of her children. Aloo is a responsible student as he does well in school and obtains a place in the university. He also wants to study medicine and is accepted by an American university purely on the basis of his results. He is very responsible. He even promises his mother that he will not do anything to upset her values and beliefs. He does not think selfishly or act defiantly. He only shouts at her on one occasion when he feels very disappointed that she gave him hope and then dashed it.
Point of View
The story is told in the first person point of view. In this case, it is the sister who is studying at the university. We see the relationship of the various members of the family through her eyes.
Tone and Mood
The tone is heartwarming and generally, reflects the love and care the family members have for each other. There is a caring sensitivity that runs through the story. The mood is positive and optimistic. There is a sense of hope because the main character wants to better himself and seek his fortune in the great wide world.
Language and Style
The language used is basically simple and direct. The interest in the story is sustained well and the reader gets caught in the conflict between the mother and the son. The reader wants to know if the son will go to America and if so, will he return as a filial son or will he forget his traditions and become Americanised? The simple descriptions develop the storyline well.
Literary Devices Short Story Leaving
Descriptive words create interesting and vivid images in the reader’s mind. Leaves rustling in the wind (page 32); Wild land, with tall trees and at night it felt a lonely, frightening place (page 32); An exciting new world was waiting for him (page 33); Not made of stone (page 36); Wind…bringing some welcome cool air into the hot room (page 37); Worried, unsmiling face, a face with deep lines…. (page 38); Even the mountains are clean and tidy (page 40)
Mr. Velji …like a clever man (page 36); Walked in like a soldier (page 36)
Aloo’s mother refers to uncles in America who will pay money to send him to college! (page 32, 34)
Aloo has no such uncles and if he did have them, they may not pay for his education either! The mother is sarcastic as she herself is painfully aware that the family has no money to educate Aloo.