Swami and Friends Character Sketch – A novel by R.K Narayan

Swami and Friends Character Sketch: ‘Swami and Friends’ is a novel written by R. K. Narayan (1906–2001).

The novel is full of humor and irony. It falls in pre-independence days in India. The town is said to be a fictional one – Malgudi. Today, it has become a real place in India.

In this post, you’ll be exploring more about the characters in the novel, Swami and Friends and also understand the main theme of the novel.

Swami and Friends Character Sketch

Here are the Characters in Swami and Friends:

⦁ Swaminathan
⦁ Swami’s Father
⦁ Swami’s mother
⦁ Swami’s Grandmother
⦁ Swami’s Little Brother
⦁ Somu
⦁ Shankar
⦁ Rajam
⦁ Mani
⦁ Samuel

Before we dive into the Swami and Friends Character Sketch, let’s first know about the Swami and Friends theme to understand the characters better.

Swami And Friends Theme

The protagonist of the story is a 10-year-old boy. He is an unconstrained, indiscreet, wicked but then also an exceptionally honest child. His character is a kid in the fullest feeling of the world. How he grows up, his mischiefs which made his family irritated, his wonder, growing pains and innocence and many aspects are being portrayed in the novel. He lives in a universe of bossy grown-ups. He is a student at Albert Mission School. It is a British established school where importance is given to Christianity and English education.

One of the most watershed moments in the novel is the time when Rajam joins the school and he becomes friend with Swami. That was a life-changing stage for him. But later he breaks his friendship due to some reasons.

swami and friends character sketch

Everyone can relate R.K. Narayan’s account of childhood games and friendship. It’s an age where friendship is more important than family and more urgent than school. Also, holidays are heaven on earth during those days. The author effectively sketches those days through Swami and Friends.

Swami And Friends Character Analysis

Swaminathan (Swami)

The protagonist of the novel Swaminathan (Swami) is a school going boy. He belongs to a South Indian middle-class family. His family comprises of his grandmother, mother, father, and mother. In the initial trenches of the story, his younger brother was born. He epitomizes the innocence of a youth mischievousness that childhood necessitates.

His Family and Friends

Swami’s mother Lakshmi is a homemaker and his father, W. T. Srinivasan, a lawyer. He is seen irritating his family members in the novel. Also, he himself sometimes gets irritatedswami and friends character sketch by the way his family scolds him. He takes his family for granted and to some extent, it can be said that he is not given proper attention after his brother was born. He was unbearable to his mother. There were times when his mother thought of giving up on him. He inherited a kind of revengeful quality in him after he got ignored by his mother. But it was not the same for his father. Srinivasan, even though he was a bit rude to him he has always been his soft corner. Swami tries every time and again to win sympathy for his grandmother. He dislikes staying at home and likes spending his time idly.

He has got Rajam and Mani as his fast friends. Swami was not an extraordinary character. Like all the other boys of his age, he likes spending time with his companions.

Mani is Swaminathan’s best friend. Swami’s family is comfortable in the sense of finance, as we can see from his father’s job or lifestyle as a lawyer. But Mani isn’t. His family lives in poverty. He is not regular in his school attendance and is a backbencher. Even though he is faint-hearted and timid he becomes aggressive and undisciplined at times. With all his companions, Mani stands to be the strongest and largest. He does not care to bully anyone coming in his path. But it is worth mentioning that his bond of friendship with Swami never lessens.

Rajam’s life is the complete opposite of Mani. He is sincere in his academics and has self-respect. The author portrayed him with a delightful personality. Initially, Mani had enmity towards Rajam as he was living a rich lifestyle and feels Rajam to be doing show-offs. But later, Rajam solves this problem and he forwards his hand of friendship to him. He also invited them to his home which played a vital role in suppressing the enmity. Apparently, Rajam justifies everything with a concrete reason. On the other hand, Mani was smart enough to accept his friendship.

Swami’s Parents

Swami’s father, W. T. Srinivasan was a lawyer of a good rank and his mother Lakshmi was a homemaker. He gets irritated by his family members as he feels he is not given much attention.

He is unbearable to his mother and he also becomes revengeful on being ignored by her. But his father had a soft corner for him despite being so nasty and troublesome. One of the incidents that prove his father’s calmness is his ‘Lending his Room’. Rajam promised Swaminathan to pay a visit. Swami was both excited and conscious. So, he asked his father if he could lend his room, full of books and reading materials.

Swami’s Grandmother

Swami’s grandmother was a short and fat and a slightly bent woman. She was a notably a religious woman. She had inner beauty intact with her rather than physical. She was not an attractive woman as she herself says she wasn’t pretty. He lived with her in his childhood days. He describes her as a good friend of his. She used to wake him up during the school days and prepare breakfast for him. After the breakfast is being done his grandmother hand over the pen, wooden slate, and earthen ink-pot to him. While Swami attended school his grandmother would study the scriptures in the temple which his nearby his school.

Later when he shifted to the city he never went to school with her; instead, he went on the school bus. He himself agrees that his relationship with his grandmother has changed a lot during these times as she no longer assisted him in doing his homework. Besides, Swami got some advanced subjects which are beyond the experience and expertise of the grandmother.

Swami’s grandmother became distanced from him and other people. Unlike before she spent most of her time spinning, feeding the sparrows which falls on the garden and since she was a religious person she kept herself busy with praying. When Swaminathan went abroad for his further studies, his grandma didn’t speak to him. She kissed him on the forehead before they got separated.
Five years later when Swami came back home, his Grandma welcomed him home. Her actions showed her great love towards her grandson. For Swami, she will still beautiful because she continued to love him. After her death, Swami notes that his grandma never stopped loving him.

Swami’s Friends

Swami had a lot of friends but he limited himself to Rajam and Mani.

swami and friends character sketch

The character of Rajam: Rajam was the guy with an endearing personality. He is smarter and grown-up than Mani. He believes in self-respect. Rajam is very sincere in academics. He likes assisting or helping his friends in academics. Mani possesses a propensity for domination amongst every one of his age but Rajat didn’t feel that within him. In fact, Rajam tries to put forward a hand for friendship with Mani. He wanted to settle the enmity with Mani and this signify the nobility Rajam has got with him.
He believes in justification of everything with a concrete reason.
Swami liked staying or passing his time with Rajat. Swami and Rajat were not in good terms earlier but after their friendship, Rajat tried his best possible way to assist Swami in all the fields. Swami took him as a kind of motivation as he is the son of police superintendent and he thrives to acquire that kind of lifestyle. Apparently, Rajat is the only boy in Swami’s class who is dressed smartly and speaks English fluently like a European. Since Swami follows Rajat in almost every aspect, he gets the name “The Tail” of Rajam from his classmates.
The character of Mani: And on the other hand, Mani never brings books to school or submits his homework on time. He is completely opposite to Rajam in the field of academics. In fact, he is also known for sleeping bravely in the class. Mani always sits on the last bench of the class. Even though he is not a sincere or profound guy Swami liked staying with him.
While the exams approached, Mani tries to convince and bribe the clerk to leak the question paper by giving him fresh brinjals.
Mani reckoned Rajan as his enemy as he is jealous of his lifestyle. Unlike Rajat, Mani comes from a very poor family. His parents hardly afford to pay his schooling expenses. During the enmity, Swami acted as a middleman in delivering the pieces of chats to each other.
Mani is fond of dominating the entire class of his power. He likes bullying his juniors and also some his classmates. He is tagged as the hero of his class. Mani is a very weak student academically. He is superstitious and believes in ghost.

Swami’s other Friends: He has other friends as well with whom he came in bad terms after his friendship with Rajat. Not only Mani but most of the students in the class disliked him. Some of his other friends who played an important role in the novel are Somu- the class monitor who was a responsible lad, Shankar – one of the most hardworking and brilliant boys Swami’s class, and Samuel who didn’t have any special skill in him. These four friends shared everything with each other and were united until Swami made friendship with Rajat.

Swami’s Teacher:

Swami finds his class lectures boring.
Vedanayakam was Swami’s class teacher. He was also the Head Master of the school. He scourges Swami for doing arithmetic sums wrong. This is the reason why Swami hates doing arithmetics.
Besides, he likes his history teacher, Pillai. He is portrayed as a very kind person.
Swami once came on bad terms with the teacher of Scripture Class, Ebenezar. He keeps on praising the holiness of Jesus. Swami felt really exasperated for this. Moreover, he also called Krishna as the Arch Scoundrel as he stole butter and danced with girls. In response to that, Swami asks his teacher, on why did Jesus ate flesh and wine. The teacher pinched Swami on his left ear for putting forward his question.

So this was all about the swami and friends character sketch. Let’s move to the last part of the post, the character sketch of Swami in Swami and Friends:

The Character Sketch of Swami in Swami and Friends

swami and friends character sketch


HIS ACTIONS AND HABITS: As mentioned above, Swaminathan is a loafer. He likes to spend his time doing nothing. He does not want to study. He was scolded frequently by his father for not studying for his exams. According to Swami, the holidays after his exams are not given for studying. He keeps telling this to his grandmother. For Swami, a holiday means playing and roaming with his friends all the time.

No work and all play make Jack a dull boy” –

This proverb sarcastically fits him very well.

He has also got some bad habits as well. He is a liar and does not hesitate telling lies to his father.

HIS NATURE: Swami was an irresponsible kid. His father on attempting to teach him Arithmetics found that his books were filled with dust and cobwebs. This directly shows how careless and imprudent he is! On being told by his father to put the throw out the spider from his book self he keeps it in his pocket. This shows his love towards pet animals.

His father sometimes shows his rudeness towards him due to his troublesome behavior. And in response to that Swami leans the table and disperses all the books on the floor. He does that to shows his anger against his father as he is incapable of telling back anything to his father. While shaking off the dust from his books, the way he banged the books shows his exasperation. He might get angry sometimes due to acts like scolding but he is genuinely an innocent guy. His father gives him a sum to solve. He, instead of doing calculations thought of the nature of mangoes and it’s sellers.


The novel Swami and friends were first focused to be young audience targeted. But later it was expanded into a universal copy as the narrative and the overall depiction of the book was very prominent.
One of the most blazing thing that could be found in the novel is the similarity of children throughout the world. The children have not changed since the writing of the novel. They are all playful, fun-loving and mischievous just like Swami was.

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