Vendor of Sweets Summary – Chapter 3

Chapter 3

One morning Mali says that he wants to stop schooling. And rather than confronting him, Jagan says ‘All right get on with your eating. We’ll talk of these things later.’ The narrator says that ‘He was a cowardly father and felt afraid to mention class of college.’ We learn that he is obsessed about cooking and feeding Mali. Jagan wonders what Mali would eat if he doesn’t go to the college canteen and asks where he will ear and Mali replies saying, ‘Why do you bother when you keep saying one need not eat?’ And he leaves in his bicycle.

Jagan is confused until the cousin comes. Speaking of how Mali wants to stop school, Jagan reminisces how his student years were spent in prison. But the narrator informs us that he actually failed several times, ceased to attend college, and had begun to take his examinations as a private candidate long before the call of Gandhi.

The cousin says, ‘why don’t you have a talk with him?’ Jagan replies saying ‘Why don’t you.’ The cousin is the one who communicates with Mali, and we see how Jagan is refusing to initiate conversations and is afraid of confronting the son – this further aggravates the separation between them.

That night, as Mali has locked himself in the room, cousin comes to meet Jagan. The cousin tells him that he wants to become a writer – Jagan misunderstands and thinks he means that Mali wants to be a clerk – in his vocabulary, writer means clerk. It takes him few more minutes to understand the truth.

The cousin informs him that Mali hates his lessons, syllabus, and all his books. While they were waiting for food, apparently Mali tore up the pages of his book savagely and told the waiter to put them in the fire.          

Jagan talks about how the great writers of India didn’t have to study writing elsewhere but were borne out of India – he mentions Kalidasa. That night he peeps into Mali’s room and is disappointed that he is not writing. Jagans tells Mali that he wants to encourage him and asks if he wants a table, paper and pen etc – Mali is rather confused and asks who told him about him. Jagan says that ‘these things become known.’

Inquiring about his wriring, Jagan asks, ‘but don’t you know what you are going to write when you sit down to write?’ Mali answers saying, ‘No. It’s not like frying sweets in your shop.’ Jagan tries to continue to show his support to Mali, but Mali seems rather paranoid and everything he says seems to make Mali even more hostile. The narrator says that ‘Jagan was for a moment confused…Secretly his mind was bothered as to why there was always an invisible barrier between them.  He has always got him whatever he wanted.

He begins to reminisce the times when Ambika was dying – Jagan ends up preaching to the doctorabout his natural diet and health, and the doctor, angrily tells him: ‘Go back to your wife for the few hours left.’ Mali had been watching after the mother for many weeks. He comes running home from school when other kids play.  When Mali asks Jagan what the doctor said, Jagan loses it completely. He holds his son’s hands and broke into a loud wail. Mali had shaken himself off and watched his father from a distance with a look of dismay and puzzlement.

Jagan is unable to forget that memory. From that day, the barrier had come into being – the boy had ceased to speak to him normally.

Jagan derives a peculiar thrill about knowing his son wants to become a writer and tells people about this.

The cousing comes to the shop again, and Jagan tells him that he hopes Mali would emulate his simple living. But the cousin says ‘ But what I don’t understand is why you should run a trade, make money and accumulate it.’ Jagan says it grows naturally. This time, his justification is that he works because it is his duty to work. He reads from the Baghavd Gita and says: it’s my duty to go on doing something.’

Jagan suddentl says that he resists the use of essences and colouring – you can get any flavourb from Germany – ‘it is easy to deceive even the most fastidious nowadays.’ The cousin replies – ‘How false and illusory.’


  1. Thank You so much for this summarization. It is very helpful to me. It was very difficult for me to understand some words when I was reading the Novel. Your summary is understandable. Thanks once again. 🙏


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