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Character Sketch of Sir Mohan Lal in ‘Karma’

Introduction: Sir Mohanlal is central character in Khushwant Singh’s Karma. Mohanlal’s character is the bundle of conflict. Khushwant Singh presented Sir Mohan Lal as the main character of ‘KARMA’ in an ironical way.  The character of Sir Mohan Lal is revealed through his thoughts and feelings. When he thinks about his personality and image, he appears snobbish and proud. He calls himself as distinguished, efficient and handsome. He regards Indians as inefficient, dirty and indifferent. We can see his character in different colors. 


A . Lady Mohanlal’s Opinion about Sir Mohan Lal :


Sir Mohan Lal’s character personality has been defined very closely by his wife Lady Mohan Lal. She thinks her husband is :-


Gentleman : Lady Mohan Lal thinks Mr. Lal is a man of high dignity as he meets “so many officers and Englishman in train”.


Barrister and Vizer : She regards Mr. LAL as an important government officer.


Englishman : Lady Mohan Lal considers her husband as English Man. She knows her husband can speak English and has an English style. He always loved to compare himself with English man and tried to get company with English people. 


Lady Mohan Lal’s Opinion about Sir Mohan Lal is an assumption from the wife’s perspective. This is an ironical (unintentionally) view of Lady Mohan Lal about her husband.


B. Mohan Lal’s Own Opinion about Himself:


Khuswant Singh’s opinion on Sir Mohan Lal is very ambiguous. In the text he described himself as ” inefficient, dirty, indifferent“. Mohan Lal’s own opinion about himself is very Self-contradictory.


Once, he described himself as “distinguished, efficient” another time regarded himself as ” inefficient, dirty, indifferent“. He is so ambiguous character. He described himself in different ways: –

Inefficient vs Efficient:

Distinguished vs Indifferent:

Handsome vs Old Chap:

Mr Lal travels first class since he considers himself one of the English gentry who rides first first class. He overlooks his Indian origin and treats himself as one of the English.


C. Reader’s Opinion about Sir Mohan Lal:


From the reader’s perspective we can describe Sir Mohan Lal’s character as :


Proud: Sir Mohan Lal is a proud middle-aged man who was ashamed to be an Indian.


Prejudice: He is an admirer of England and English people than this own country and people. Every object of India is inefficient, dirty and indifferent to him.


Self contradictory: Sir Mohan Lal is a person of Self-contradictory faith in his own life and culture.


Issue of Identity: The author shows the concern with the issue of cultural identity with the character of Sir Mohan Lal. Mr. Lal yearns to leave his Indian origin behind and imitates the English as closely as possible.


D. Khuswant Singh’s Opinion about Sir Mohan Lal :


Khushwant Singh presented Sir Mohan Lal as the main character of ‘KARMA’ in an ironical tone.


E. Conclusion:


Mohan Lal is an admirer of England and English people than this own country and people; ultimately he suffered at the hands of two English soldiers whom he admired so much. He lost his real identity as an Indian. He proved himself proud, prejudiced, Self-contradictory who is neither an English nor an Indian.

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