What do I need to know about ... British vs. Indian Values?

Brief Description

Brown (personification, contrast to Headmaster)
Medicines- doctor vs mystic “Never trust these English doctors”
Education system in India- British.
Two years before Indian independence

‘The English Teacher’- title. Ambiguous?
Krishna’s poetry in English vs. spiritual awakening at the river before writing
Religion- Krishna’s skepticism vs Susila’s faith
Krishna- Sunday should be a day of rest. Headmaster: why?

Key Quotations

Quotations for the British side
Page no.
‘I took stock of my daily life. I got up early at eight everyday, read for the fiftieth time Milton, Carlyle and Shakespeare, looked through compositions, swallowed a meal, dressed and rushed out of the hostel just when the second bell sounded at college’
This shows that Krishna is very orderly and very organized, and that he does the same thing everyday over and over again. Since the British are stereotypically very orderly and routine, Krishna's lifestyle can be seen as very 'British'.
‘Could you imagine a worse shock for me? I came across a student of the English Honors, who did not know till this day that “honours” had to be spelt with a “u”?
This shows the inherent 'Britishness' of the school: the word "honour" could very well be spelt without a 'u' in a more Americanised system, but Brown does not even acknowledge the existence of an alternate system to the one he follows.
‘With pleasure, but not in the hall, they are usually put up only in the bathrooms’
Shows that Krishna does things the right way, and cares what other people think about him. This furthermore implies that what Krishna considers "the right way" is, in fact, the *British* way, as tiles could very well be put anywhere other than the bathroom in other cultures. Hence this shows how the British way of living has so permeated the people in India that even something as seemingly insignificant as tiles *has* to be placed the same way as its counterpart in Britain.
‘This is a Sunday , you don’t have to go’
It is a very British custom to stay home with one's family during the weekend, especially on Sundays, and this simple sentence shows how Krishna's mindset is so fully immersed in that culture and lifestyle. The same could be said of many of the inhabitants of India during the days it was under British rule.

Role in the novel

It is important to remember this novel is set two years before Indian Independence; throughout the book, the British presence is made clear. Krishna is a portrayal of the average Indian man. Throughout the book, it is interesting to see how his perception of things changes; from being a sceptic who trusts in all things logical, he begins to develop spiritually and eventually sacrifices material wealth for spiritual contentment when he chooses to teach younger children. This could be viewed as a foreshadowing of Gandhi’s philosophy and the movement he started.
For example, Krishna teaches English; he ‘read[s] for the fiftieth time Milton, Carlyle and Shakespeare’ every day. This shows that the school curriculum focuses not only on learning the English language, but also learning about their more abstract literature and culture. It should be noted that the next generations of Indians will then have had a British schooling, rather than an Indian one; their education will influence their future.
The novel shows how some people place absolute trust in all things official- things made by the educated British. Some, however, view those things with scepticism and mistrust. For example, Krishna trusts the doctor to take care of Susila and make her better: he says, ‘The doctor’s presence was so beneficial that I requested him to visit her at least once a day. Narayan shows in a very subtle manner that perhaps the English way isn’t always correct: the doctor’s first diagnosis of ‘malaria, the green snake’ is wrong; he finds after a considerable amount of time that she actually has ‘typhoid, the king of fevers’ Krishna still maintains, ‘The doctor knows better.’ He doesn’t listen to the contractor who tells him Never trust the English doctors.’
When the ‘swamiji’ is called by Susila’s mother to come to see Susila (showing her mother’s greater trust in the spiritual), Krishna immediately tells him to ‘ ‘Go away’...taking him to be a beggar.’ Leela tells Krishna, ‘There is a bad mad, a fearful man there’, referring to the swamiji.’ The fact that at such a young age she already has an intrinsic trust in the orthodox and views negatively the strange, native-looking man, shows just how deeply British values have already been ingrained in her. Krishna ‘[feels] ashamed’ of the swamiji’s presence in his house when he ‘hear[s] the doctor’s footsteps’.
Chief Brown can be viewed as a personification of the British rule in India. He cannot say ‘The cat chases the rat’ in any of the Indian languages, and yet he cannot ‘imagine a worse shock’ than that a boy cannot correctly spell the word ‘honour.’ He is very ignorant of his cultural surroundings, focussing on the importance of ‘preserving’ the ‘purity’ of the English language. He feels his ‘time in India had not been ill-spent’ if it meant Indians would ‘[speak] and [write] correct English.’ The headmaster of the children’s school resents the fact that strange, foreign traditions such as sports are ‘supposed to make our people modern and vigorous.’ Narayan seems to be telling the readers that the British system was presumptuous and claimed to be civilising the Indian people. The Chief Brown’s character agrees with this. This is an example of how Narayan showed racism: The British believed that the Indians were somewhat savage, and the Indians, that the British were arrogant and dismissive.
The title itself could be viewed as ambiguous; ‘The English Teacher’ is referring to Krishna and his initial occupation, and how that affects his outlook on life. It could also be thought to refer to the British rule in India, and how the English were trying to teach the Indians their correct way of life.