The Grass Eaters


This study guide will help you analyze the short story “The Grass-Eaters” by Krishnan Varma. You can also find a summary of the text, as well as inspiration for interpreting it and putting it into perspective

Presentation of the text

Title: “The Grass-Eaters” (1985) 
Author: Krishnan Varma 
Genre: Short story

Krishnan Varma is an Indian writer, born in the city of Kerala. His works mainly focus on the everyday life of the poor folk as well as depicting Indian scenery.


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


The story explores the theme of home by presenting Ajit and Swapna’s past experiences in different living locations.

There is a difference between calling a place home and calling it a house. Using the term “home” gives a place a cozier feeling and it associates it with comfort and family. The narrator does differentiate between these two terms when he mentions the places he and his wife used to live in.

He recalls the pipe and wagon as their homes, but refers to the roof as a house. 

On the way, near the Sealdah railway station, we came upon a cement concrete pipe left over from long-ago repairs to underground mains. Unbelievably, it was not occupied and, with no prompting from me, she crept into it. That was how we came to live in a pipe.

This is the same feeling that is present for the wagon. It is possible that Ajit associates the place with the intimacy he shared with his wife. The only time he refers to the roof as a home is when he talks about his current life at the end of the story. This paragraph is clearly ironic, so he doesn’t mean to compare the roof with a comforting place: “We have a home made of coal tar drums”...

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The Grass Eaters

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