Comment on the title of the short story “Fritz” by Satyajit Ray. Is the title justified?
In Satyajit Ray’s short story “Fritz”, Fritz is the name of a unique 12 inch long doll which Jayanto’s uncle brought from Switzerland. The seller told his uncle to call the doll by that name in order to make it respond. The doll had a smiling face and was dressed in traditional Swiss attire with a little yellow feather sticking out from its Swiss cap.
Though this was a mere doll, it was Jayanto’s constant companion in his childhood and he even took it with him to Bundi. Jayanto, the protagonist of the story, says his friend Shankar that he spent hours talking to ‘him’ and treated it just like a human being. He even buried it as if a real child had died when a couple of stray dogs had destroyed the doll. He seemed to be so attached to Fritz that even after thirty-one years he couldn’t forget him.
When Jayanto visited Bundi again as a grown-up man, he felt emotional for his doll Fritz which he had lost so many years ago. He was restless and could not enjoy his food. He was so much obsessed with Fritz that when at night something walked over him, he at once concluded that it was Fritz. In the morning Shankar suggested him to get the ground where he had buried his doll dug up to check if some remaining of the doll was still left. To their utter shock, on digging the ground, they found “a twelve-inch-long, pure white, perfect little human skeleton”. Thus the author leaves the story on the readers to decide whether Fritz was a ghost or a supernatural being or just a figment of Jayanto’s childhood imagination.
Though one cannot be sure of what Fritz actually was, it is a central figure in the story. The setting of the entire story is based on it. Jayanto’s depression on the day of his second visit to Bundi is due to his memories of Fritz, no doubt. The author spends a lot of words in describing Fritz and Jayanto’s attachment and obsession with the doll. And finally, the theme of supernaturalism and mystery, which seems to be the main concern of the story, is standing upon only one thing: Fritz and its identity. Even the story ends abruptly with two friends discovering the skeleton which intensifies the atmosphere of mystery in the story.
So, it can be concluded that the story Fritz is all about Fritz, the doll. When the story progressed, it seemed that the sensitive side of Jayanto or practical nature of Shankar was the author’s main concern, but when it ended it left us with only one thing in mind: “What is the identity of Fritz?” That is why the title of the story is just and apt.