The Free Radio

This study guide will help you analyze the short story “The Free Radio” (1994) by Salman Rushdie. You can also find a summary of the text, as well as inspiration for interpreting it and putting it into perspective

Salman Rushdie (b. 1947) is an Indian-born British-American writer. His most famous novel, The Satanic Verses (1988), created controversy in several countries and led to an assassination order being issued against him. Rushdie is well known for often using magical realism in his works. 

Excerpt from the study guide:

Metaphors and similes

The story’s opening sentence contains a metaphor about the thief’s widow: “the thief’s widow has her claws dug into his flesh” (p. 17, ll. 1-2). This metaphor hints at the woman’s viciousness and suggests that Ramani is her victim. Later on, the metaphor “black widow” (p. 24, l. 14) implies that she is a woman who brings misfortune to her lovers. 

 When the narrator thinks “careful, my son, or you will have this burden to pull for all your life” (p. 18, ll. 19-20), the metaphor of the burden suggests that the narrator believes the widow and her children are not only a physical weight that make Ramani’s progress difficult, but a psychological one as well. 

When the thief’s widow accuses the narrator of spreading lies about her and Ramani, she uses the metaphor “cobra poison” (p. 20, l. 8). She also associates the narrator with a snake, calling him “poisonous” (p. 20, l. 4), which reinforces the idea that she considers him guilty of the rumors about her. 

The simile “grinning as usual as if someone had given him a ten-chip tip” (p. 18, ll. 2-3) illustrates Ramani’s happy and carefree attitude. Although he is not exactly wealthy, he is lighthearted and content with his life. The similes “like a truly cheap type” (p. 18, l. 12) and “cool as a fan” (p. 18, l. 11) illustrate the narrator’s opinions of the thief’s widow. According to him, she is too daring when she loudly calls out for a rickshaw. 

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The Free Radio

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