Summary of Story The Lost Child

Story The Lost Child: Element of Pathos, Summary and Critical Appreciation

Summary of Story The Lost Child


Summary of Story The Lost Child : There is an undercurrent of pathos in the story. Though the atmosphere of the story is sunny, there is a shadow of disappointment and disgust. We feel pity for the child whose desires remain unfulfilled for the callousness of his parents and the irony of his fate.

Eternal Refusal by Parents:

The element of pathos is brought about by the eternal refusal of the child’s parents. The child wants to buy toys from a shop but he knows that if he makes a request for it, he will receive the same old, cold refusal from the parents. However, he pleads, “I want that toy.” What he gets from his father in return is his frowny stare. When he sees sweets or garlands or balloons in the fair, he makes a request for them to his parents but without waiting for the answer, he moves on because he knows that he will get the same cold refusal. It is highly pathetic when we see the child making a bold request to go on the round-about without knowing that his parents are not there.

Cries and Shrieks of the Child:

The element of pathos is present in the story from the very beginning but it comes to the fore front when the child is left alone in the fair. When we see the child running here and there in search of his parents we feel pity for him. When the child cries and shrieks, wails and sobs, our heart is moved. When he struggles to make his way through the crowd, when he shrieks at the highest pitch of his voice, we pity the child.

Refusal by the Child:

The pathetic situation in the story comes when he is offered everything that he wanted from his parents and he is persistently refusing to accept them. The man who lifts him up in his arms offers him sweets, garlands, balloons and horse ride but he turns his eyes from them. All that he wants are his parents. The child in the end, has been left in a pathetic dilemma

Summary of the Story The Lost Child

The Festival of Spring:

It was the festival of spring. A fair was organised in a nearby village. People from the neighboring city and villages sped towards the fair dressed in their best clothes. Some walked, some rode on horses, and some others travelled in bullock-carts.

Demand of Toys:

A little boy along with his parents also journeyed to the fair. The boy ran between his parent’s legs full of zest and laughter. He was very happy because he had a chance to see the outside world with all its glory. The boy lagged behind because he was arrested by the toys in the shops that lined the way. When the parents called him, he hurried away with his eyes on the toys. As he came to them he pleaded with his father for a toy. The father looked at him with angry eyes. The mother, however, was tender but she, too tried to divert the attention of the child.

The Charm of Flowers and Flies:

After leaving the dusty road on which they had walked so far, they entered a footpath in a field. It was flowering mustard-field sweeping across miles and miles of even land. It was all pale looking like melting gold. The boy was charmed with the sunny glory of nature. He was drawn to flying flies. He was attracted by the little insects and worms that came out from their hiding places to enjoy the sunshine. The child again lagged behind and his parents called him sitting on the edge of a well.

Pleasure of the Banyan Tree:

As they went forward, the child saw a grove of trees. Among other trees, there was an old banyan tree outstretching its powerful arms over other trees like an old grandmother spreading her skirts over her young ones. The child entered the grove. When the young flowers rained on him, he began to gather them. He ran round the banyan tree in wild excitement. Then the parents called him and went forward.

Fascination of the Fair:

At last, they neared the village where the fair was held. People were coming to it from all directions. The fair looked like a whirlpool of confusion. The boy was fascinated by the sounds, noises and scenes of the fair. When he saw sweet-meat shop with sweets, decorated with the leaves of silver and gold, his mouth began to water. When he made a request to his parents to eat burfi in a low tone, it went unheeded. When he saw flowers and garlands in a shop he was tempted to get them but he knew that his parents would not allow him to buy them. He saw balloons of all colours flying in the air but he did not ask his parents to get them because he knew that his parents would never buy them. Then he saw a juggler playing a flute to a snake but he did not stop to listen to his music for fear of his parents.

Charm of the Round-About:

Then he came to a place where men, women and children were riding a round-about and carried in a wheeling motion. They were laughing and crying with joy. The child watched them intently. When the round-about came to a halt, he asked his parents to allow him to go on the round-about. But there was no answer. When he looked back, he did not see his parents there. He looked all around but there was no sign of them.

Search for His Parents:

A deep cry arose within his dry throat. He ran from where he stood, crying in fear ‘ Mother, father ‘. Tears rained down from his eyes. Panic stricken, he ran to one side first, then to the other. He did not know where to go. He cried and wailed. He stood defeated and his cries suppressed into sobs. His eyes searched for his parents among men and women laughing and talking. Then he ran towards the entrance of the temple where the crowd was very thick. The poor child tried to make his way between their feet, but failed. He might have been trampled under foot, had he not cried at the highest pitch of his voice “Father, mother”. A man in the crowd heard his groan and lifted him up in his arms.

Temptations to the Child:

The man asked the child whose baby he was but he only wept and cried, “I want my mother, I want my father.” The man tried to soothe him by taking him up to the round-about. When the man asked him if he would have a lift on the horses, he declined saying that he wanted his parents.  Then he was taken to the snake-charmer, the balloon-seller, the flower-seller and the sweets-seller and was given temptations of various kinds but he refused to accept anything. He turned his face even from his favourite sweets and only sobbed, “I want my mother, I want my father.”

A Critical Appreciation of the Story: The Lost Child


‘The Lost Child’ comes from the autobiographical narrative of Mulk Raj Anand and has touches of real-life experience. In this story, the author brings out the psychology of a child’s mind with a touch of pathos.


The story has genuine simplicity and innocence of a child’s world. His fears and misapprehensions, his joys and expectations, his tender feelings and excitements and his reliance on parental affections – all come into full play as the child finds himself lost in the fair. When he is separated from parents, everything loses its significance for him. All the dazzling pleasures of sweets, flowers, colourful balloons and snake music melt into nothingness. The continuing chorus of the story is the child’s cry “I want my mother, I want my father.”


The plot of the story is unconventional. The ending of the story is incomplete. The story has a beginning, middle and a turning point also but the ending of the story is abrupt. The author has a purpose behind it. The aim of the author in the story is to show the working of the mind of a child and he has succeeded in it despite the abrupt ending.


Since it is not a story of character, all the characters including the child have not been properly portrayed. The purpose of the story is to externalize the working of the mind of the child. The author has successfully shown how the child behaves, enjoys things and feels lonely after being separated from his parents .


The power of the story lies in the detailed and poetic descriptions of the child’s moods, feelings, joys, excitements, reactions, sobs and frustrations. When the author gives an account of the flowering mustard – fields, he becomes excessively lyrical and poetical.

Psychological element:

It is essentially a psychological story because it deals with the working of the mind of a child when he is in the company of his parents and also when he is separated from his parents. It also tells us how happy and curious a child is when he is taken out of home and brought in touch with outside world teeming with flowers, flies, insects, worms and sunshine.

Element of Pathos:

There is an under-current of pathos in the story. We feel pity for the child when we see that his desires and dreams remain unfulfilled for the callousness of his parents and the irony of his fate.

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