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. 


Here, you can read an extract from our study guide: 

Social setting

The story’s social setting looks at the condition of women in India

The female character – the thief’s widow – is never mentioned by name, but only in connection to her late husband. This suggests that, for the narrator, women are not important as individuals and need to be defined by their connection with a man. The narrator believes that, as a widow, she should “go to the widows’ ashrams in Benares and spend the rest of [her] life there in holy prayer, thanking God that widow-burning is now illegal” (pp. 19-20, l. 33, ll. 1-2). This example illustrates the narrator’s judgment and traditional views when it comes to women. Moreover, the thief’s widow is seen with Ramani in public places, which the narrator considers a shameful act: 

But after that Ramani and the thief’s widow were seen everywhere, shamelessly, in public places, and I was glad his mother was dead because if she had lived to see this her face would have fallen off from shame (p. 18, ll. 21-23).

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The Free Radio

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