Memory plays an important role in Satyajit Ray’s Fritz. Discuss.
Fritz is one of Satyajit Ray’s horror stories in which a man named Jayanto returns to his childhood house and gradually recollects about his doll. The master of storyteller harmoniously blends atmosphere, emotion and plot to create an eerie feeling that builds as the story progresses.
Fritz’ is the name of the doll which the protagonist of the story, Jayanto got from his uncle. Jayanto’s uncle had gone to Switzerland and bought the doll from a man in a village. The man, who sold the doll, told Jayanto’s uncle to call the doll ‘Fritz’ as it would not respond to any other name. It was a unique twelve-inch-long figure of an old man, dressed in a traditional Swiss attire. It had a smiling face and wore a Swiss cap with a little yellow feather sticking out from it. In fact, its clothes have been described as perfect with belt, buttons, pockets, collars, socks and buckles on the shoes.
It was this doll, ‘Fritz’ which became Jayanto’s companion in his childhood. He used to play with him and would talk to him for hours. He took Fritz with him when he went to Bundi with his parents, when he was six-years old. Jayanto again visited Bundi after thirty-one years.
Memory is the most important element of the story. It seemed that he was haunted by the memory of Fritz, Which prompted him to visit Bundi, as it is not a favourable destination for tourists. During his second visit, he felt disturbed but could not initially recall what he was looking for. Later on, slowly, in bits and pieces, Jayanto could recall the entire story about his favourite doll, Fritz. He remembered how Fritz was destroyed by two stray dogs and he buried it under a deodar tree in the garden of the circuit house. Though he went for sightseeing and had his favourite food, he felt restless and could not enjoy it. At night when he was sleeping, he felt something had walked over his chest. He also found tiny, brown circular marks on the cover of this quilt. After much thought, Jayanto concluded that it was ‘Fritz’ that eame into his room and those little marks on his quilt were his footprints.seemed that Jayanto believed in the supernatural elements and that is why Shankar felt that it would be futile to talk to a man obsessed with such an absurd idea. To help Jayanto get rid of such weird notions, Shankar suggested that they should get the earth below the deodar tree dug up to find anything related with Fritz. Here, it appears that Shankar, though a non-believer in supernatural element, wished to check if Jayanto was right. On digging the earth, to their horror, they found a human skeleton, pure white in colour and twelve-inches long, exactly the size of Fritz.
The narrator has ended the story, leaving it open-ended for the readers to conclude whether Fritz was a ghost, some kind of a supernatural being, who died an unnatural death or a iigment of Jayanto’s imagination. Further, it raises suspicion if Fritz was actually a ghost, as hinted by its seller that it would respond only to the name ‘Fritz’ and that is why it turned into a human skeleton. Whatever final conclusion the readers may have, but the story is an intriguing one related with the theme of supernatural.
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