Understanding the Unexpected Nature of Attila in R.K. Narayan’s Story

Attila the gentle dog.In R.K. Narayan’s captivating story, the character of Attila, a dog named after the fierce Attila the Hun, defies all expectations. This detailed analysis explores the intriguing contrast between the dog’s gentle demeanor and his intimidating name, revealing deeper insights into human perceptions and animal behavior.

Attila the gentle dog

Short Questions and Answers.Attila the gentle dog

  1. Q: What is the protagonist’s name? A: Attila.
  2. Q: Who is Attila named after? A: Attila the Hun.
  3. Q: What trait is unexpected in Attila? A: Gentleness.
  4. Q: Does Attila display aggression? A: No.
  5. Q: What emotion does Attila often show towards strangers? A: Friendliness.
  6. Q: Who breaks into the house in the story? A: Ranga, the burglar.
  7. Q: Does Attila attack Ranga? A: No.
  8. Q: How does Attila react to the burglar initially? A: He befriends him.
  9. Q: What is the family’s initial expectation of Attila? A: To be a protective guard dog.
  10. Q: Are the family members satisfied with Attila’s behavior? A: No, they are disappointed.
  11. Q: What does the family criticize about Attila? A: His lack of aggression.
  12. Q: What is Ranga’s profession besides being a burglar? A: Gang coolie.
  13. Q: Does Attila eventually stop Ranga from escaping? A: Yes, unintentionally.
  14. Q: What does Ranga do after meeting Attila? A: Leaves with him.
  15. Q: What role does Attila play by the story’s end? A: An unintentional hero.
  16. Q: Does Attila like to be with Ranga? A: Yes.
  17. Q: What item does Ranga steal from the family? A: Jewellery.
  18. Q: What frustrates Ranga about Attila? A: Attila’s constant companionship.
  19. Q: How does the family refer to Attila after the burglary? A: As a hero.
  20. Q: What is Ranga’s reaction to Attila’s behavior during the burglary? A: Surprised and confused.
  21. Q: What did Attila prevent at the end of the story? A: Ranga’s escape.
  22. Q: What unusual trait does Attila exhibit when meeting new people? A: Submissiveness.
  23. Q: How does the story describe Attila’s physical appearance? A: Forbidding and massive.
  24. Q: How does the family react to Attila’s submissive behavior? A: With disappointment.
  25. Q: Does the family consider renaming Attila? A: Yes, facetiously.
  26. Q: Does Attila bark at the burglar? A: No.
  27. Q: Who is the real antagonist in the story? A: Ranga.
  28. Q: How does Attila first meet Ranga? A: During the burglary.
  29. Q: Does Attila’s behavior change by the end of the story? A: No, he remains gentle.
  30. Q: What does Ranga use to distract Attila during the burglary? A: Mention of a cat.
  31. Q: What is Ranga’s impression of Attila during their first encounter? A: That Attila would be aggressive.
  32. Q: What surprises Ranga about Attila’s reaction? A: Attila’s friendliness.
  33. Q: How does Attila contribute to Ranga’s capture? A: By accidentally tripping him.
  34. Q: What does the family initially debate about Attila? A: His name.
  35. Q: What does Attila’s story highlight about expectations? A: They can often be misleading.
  36. Q: What does Attila prefer over aggression? A: Companionship.
  37. Q: Does Attila’s behavior fit his name? A: No.
  38. Q: Is Attila trained to be aggressive? A: No indication of such training.
  39. Q: What is the family’s final view of Attila? A: They see him as a hero, albeit unintentionally.
  40. Q: How does Ranga manipulate Attila? A: By misleading him about a cat.
  41. Q: Does Attila’s gentleness cause problems? A: Yes, it initially disappoints the family.
  42. Q: What lesson does the story of Attila convey? A: Not to judge based on appearances.
  43. Q: Does Attila learn any lessons by the end of the story? A: The story focuses more on human perceptions than on Attila’s learning.
  44. Q: What is ironic about Attila’s character? A: He is named after a fierce warrior but is extremely gentle.
  45. Q: How does the community react to Attila’s heroism? A: They are surprised and appreciative.
  46. Q: What does Attila’s story suggest about true heroism? A: It can come in unexpected forms.
  47. Q: Does Attila’s presence scare off intruders? A: No, it does not.
  48. Q: What does Attila value more than security? A: Friendship and affection.
  49. Q: How does the story end for Ranga and Attila? A: With Ranga being caught due to Attila’s accidental intervention.
  50. Q: What moral does the family derive from their experience with Attila? A: To appreciate Attila’s unique qualities despite his lack of fierceness.


Extract-Based Answers.Attila the gentle dog

Extract 1

The family wanted a strong and formidable dog who could prevent break-ins and theft in their house. A two-month-old black-and-white puppy was brought home. He was named ‘Attila’ after the Scourge of Europe. Atilla had a square jaw, red eyes, a pug nose, and a massive head. He gave no hope that he would do credit to his name.

  1. Why did the family want a strong dog? The family desired a strong and formidable dog because they were worried about break-ins and thefts. They believed a powerful guard dog would deter potential thieves and provide a sense of security, ensuring their house was protected against unwanted intrusions. This need for safety was their primary reason for wanting such a dog.
  2. What name was given to the puppy, and why? The puppy was named ‘Attila,’ inspired by Attila the Hun, known as the Scourge of Europe. This name was chosen because Attila the Hun was a strong and formidable leader, traits the family hoped their new guard dog would embody. Naming him after such a fierce historical figure reflected their hopes for his future role in their home.
  3. Describe Attila’s physical appearance. Attila was described as having a square jaw, red eyes, a pug nose, and a massive head. This robust and distinctive appearance made him look quite imposing. Despite these traits suggesting a fierce nature, his overall demeanor did not align with the historical figure he was named after, as he showed little promise of being the formidable guard dog his family expected.
  4. What were the family’s hopes for Attila based on his name? The family hoped that by naming the puppy Attila, he would grow up to be as formidable and protective as Attila the Hun. They expected him to be a strong guard dog who would deter thieves and protect their home, just as Attila the Hun was known for his leadership and strength during his reign.
  5. Did Attila show any signs of living up to his name initially? Initially, Attila did not show signs of living up to his name. Despite his strong and fearsome appearance, his behavior and actions gave no hope that he would embody the fierce and protective traits associated with Attila the Hun. This mismatch between expectation and reality was a source of concern for his family.

Extract 2

Attila and his elder brother, Bleda, received training in archery, sword fighting and horse riding. They also spoke—and perhaps read—both Gothic and Latin, and learned military and diplomatic tactics.

  1. What skills did Attila and Bleda learn? Attila and Bleda were trained in archery, sword fighting, and horse riding. They also learned to speak and possibly read Gothic and Latin, along with military and diplomatic tactics. This comprehensive training prepared them for leadership and battles.
  2. Why did they learn both military and diplomatic tactics? Learning both military and diplomatic tactics equipped Attila and Bleda to be effective leaders. These skills were essential for managing their empire and negotiating with other leaders, balancing warfare skills with the ability to forge alliances and treaties.
  3. What languages could Attila and Bleda speak and possibly read? Attila and Bleda could speak and perhaps read both Gothic and Latin. These languages were important during their time for communication across various regions of their empire and for diplomatic interactions with the Roman Empire.
  4. How might these skills have influenced Attila’s reputation? The skills Attila learned helped build his reputation as a formidable and well-rounded leader. His ability to lead in battle as well as negotiate diplomatically contributed to his feared and respected status across Europe.
  5. What is the significance of learning both combat and diplomatic skills? The combination of combat and diplomatic skills was crucial for leadership during Attila’s time. It allowed leaders like Attila to effectively manage their territories and handle external threats or negotiations, which were frequent and critical for maintaining power.

Extract 3

He was one of the most fearsome enemies the Romans ever faced. Attila claimed the Romans had violated the treaty and led a devastating series of attacks through Eastern Roman cities in 441 CE.

  1. Why was Attila considered a fearsome enemy by the Romans? Attila was considered fearsome because he was a strong military leader who effectively led his forces against the Roman cities, causing significant destruction and challenging the Roman Empire’s control.
  2. What did Attila claim about the Romans? Attila claimed that the Romans had violated a treaty, which was a formal agreement between his empire and the Romans. This violation was used as a justification for his attacks.
  3. What actions did Attila take in response to the treaty violation? In response to the treaty violation, Attila led a devastating series of attacks through Eastern Roman cities in 441 CE. These attacks were part of his strategy to retaliate against the Romans for not honoring the treaty.
  4. What was the result of Attila’s attacks on Roman cities? The attacks led by Attila resulted in significant devastation of Eastern Roman cities, spreading fear across the Roman Empire and weakening their control in those regions.
  5. How did Attila’s actions affect the Roman Empire? Attila’s actions severely challenged the Roman Empire’s stability and control. His successful military campaigns against the Romans marked him as a powerful adversary who could significantly impact Roman authority.

Extract 4

The puppy, as I have already indicated, did not have a very prepossessing appearance and was none too playful, but this did not prevent his owners from sitting in a circle around him and admiring him. There was a prolonged debate as to what he should be named.

  1. Why did the family admire the puppy despite his appearance? Despite not being very attractive or playful, the family admired the puppy because they saw potential in him and felt a connection. Often, the emotional bond people feel with their pets goes beyond the physical appearance, focusing instead on the joy and companionship pets bring into their lives. This admiration reflects the family’s hope and affection for the new member of their household.
  2. What does ‘prepossessing’ mean in this context? In this context, ‘prepossessing’ refers to being attractive or appealing. The text indicates that the puppy did not have a very appealing appearance, meaning he wasn’t immediately charming or cute in the way some pets might be. This word helps underline the contrast between the family’s expectations and the puppy’s actual appearance.
  3. What led to a prolonged debate about the puppy’s name? The prolonged debate about the puppy’s name was caused by the family’s desire to find a name that was unique and meaningful. They wanted a name that would stand out and perhaps reflect the puppy’s unique characteristics or their hopes for his future behavior. This search for the perfect name indicates how much thought and care the family was putting into integrating the new puppy into their lives.
  4. How did the family’s reaction to the puppy’s appearance affect their interaction with him? The family’s reaction to the puppy’s appearance did not dampen their enthusiasm; instead, it led them to gather around and admire him, demonstrating that their affection was not based on looks alone. This interaction shows that the family valued the puppy as a new member of their home, focusing on the emotional connection rather than just physical attractiveness.
  5. Why is choosing a pet’s name often a significant decision for families? Choosing a pet’s name is significant because it often reflects the family’s perceptions, hopes, and intentions for their relationship with the pet. A name can symbolize a pet’s role within the family or the qualities they hope the pet will embody. This decision is not just about identity but also about expressing the emotional bond and expectations the family has for their new companion.

Extract 5

‘Why not call him Tiger?’ ‘Every other street-mongrel is named Tiger,’ came the reply. ‘Why not Caesar?’ ‘Caesar! If a census was taken of dogs you would find at least fifteen thousand Caesars in South India alone…’ ‘Why not Fire?’ ‘It is fantastic.’ ‘Why not Thunder?’ ‘It is too obvious.’ ‘Grip?’ ‘Still obvious and childish.’ There was a deadlock. Someone suggested Attila, and a shout of joy went up to the skies. No more satisfying name was thought of for man or animal.

  1. Why was the name ‘Tiger’ rejected for the puppy? The name ‘Tiger’ was rejected because it was considered too common, especially among street dogs. The family wanted a name that was unique and distinctive, rather than something frequently used. This preference highlights their desire to give the puppy an identity that stood out and was memorable.
  2. What does the family’s reaction to common names suggest about their values? The family’s reaction to common names suggests that they value uniqueness and individuality. They did not want a name that was overly used or lacked originality. This choice reflects their desire to ensure their pet’s name was special and meaningful, emphasizing their aspiration to make him a notable member of their family.
  3. How did the family finally decide on the name ‘Attila’? The name ‘Attila’ was finally chosen after rejecting several other names due to their commonness or lack of seriousness. When someone suggested ‘Attila,’ it was met with great enthusiasm and a unanimous positive reaction. This name, associated with a historical figure noted for his power and influence, was seen as fitting and satisfying, significantly more so than any other name they considered.
  4. What role does the process of naming play in the family’s interaction with the puppy? The process of naming the puppy played a central role in the family’s interaction by fostering a collaborative and engaging environment. It involved everyone in a meaningful discussion, reflecting their collective investment in the puppy’s place within the family. This process helped establish a deeper emotional connection to the puppy and highlighted the importance they placed on choosing a name that resonated with their expectations and hopes for him.
  5. Why did the name ‘Attila’ bring such joy to the family? The name ‘Attila’ brought joy to the family because it was powerful and unique, breaking the deadlock in their naming discussion. It symbolized strength and leadership, qualities they admired and hoped would be reflected in the puppy’s personality. The historical significance of the name, associated with a formidable leader, made it particularly satisfying and ideal for their new guard dog.

Extract 6

But as time passed our Attila exhibited a love of humanity which was sometimes disconcerting. The Scourge of Europe—could he ever have been like this?

  1. What does it mean that Attila exhibited a love of humanity? Attila showing a love of humanity means that he was exceptionally friendly and affectionate towards people. This behavior was unexpected, especially given his name’s association with a fierce historical figure. His gentle nature towards humans was surprising and sometimes unsettling for those who expected him to be more aggressive.
  2. Why was Attila’s love of humanity disconcerting? Attila’s love of humanity was disconcerting because it contradicted the expectations set by his name, which suggested he would be fierce like Attila the Hun. Instead, his affectionate behavior puzzled and sometimes worried the family, as they had hoped for a more intimidating and protective guard dog.
  3. How does the text link Attila’s behavior to his namesake? The text contrasts Attila’s gentle behavior with the historical reputation of his namesake, Attila the Hun, who was known as the Scourge of Europe. This comparison raises questions about whether the legendary leader could have been as kind-hearted as the puppy, adding depth to the irony of the puppy’s gentle nature.
  4. What might the family have expected from Attila based on his name? Based on his name, the family likely expected Attila to exhibit traits of dominance, strength, and ferocity, similar to Attila the Hun. They might have anticipated a protective and imposing guard dog who would deter intruders with his presence and behavior.
  5. How does Attila’s behavior challenge common perceptions of guard dogs? Attila’s behavior challenges the common perceptions of guard dogs by demonstrating that even a dog named after a fierce warrior can be gentle and loving. It suggests that the nature of a dog cannot always be predicted by its name or expected role, emphasizing that animals, like people, have individual personalities that might not align with stereotypes.

Extract 7

They put it down to his age. What child could help loving all creatures? In their zeal to establish this fact, they went to the extent of delving into ancient history to find out what the Scourge of Europe was like when he was a child. It was rumored that as a child he clung to his friends and to his parents’ friends so fast that often he had to be beaten and separated from them.

  1. What reason did the family give for Attila’s loving nature? The family attributed Attila’s loving nature to his youth, suggesting that like many young creatures, he naturally loved all around him. They believed that his affectionate behavior was typical for a puppy his age, reflecting an innocent and unguarded approach to the world.
  2. How did the family try to understand Attila’s behavior? The family tried to understand Attila’s behavior by researching historical figures, specifically looking into what the Scourge of Europe might have been like as a child. They hoped to find parallels or explanations for Attila’s unexpected gentleness, showing their desire to reconcile his name with his nature.
  3. What did the family discover about the Scourge of Europe as a child? The family discovered a rumor that the Scourge of Europe, as a child, was extremely attached to his friends and his parents’ friends. This attachment was so strong that he often had to be physically separated from them. This historical note was used to draw a parallel to Attila’s affectionate behavior, suggesting a deeper, perhaps innate, capacity for affection even in historically fierce individuals.
  4. What does this discovery suggest about historical figures and their reputations? This discovery suggests that historical figures might have had more complex personalities than their reputations convey. It challenges the notion that individuals known for fierceness or aggression were always like that, indicating that they, too, could have had tender and affectionate sides during their youth.
  5. Why might the family feel the need to justify Attila’s gentle nature? The family might feel the need to justify Attila’s gentle nature because it conflicted with their expectations and the traditional role envisioned for a guard dog. They sought historical justification to align his gentle behavior with his fearsome name, possibly to reassure themselves that they had not misjudged his potential when choosing his name.


Discovering the Unexpected Heroism of Attila

Attila the gentle dog.R.K. Narayan’s story of Attila, a dog with a gentle heart despite his fierce name, teaches us valuable lessons about expectations and reality. Through the narrative, readers learn not to judge based on appearances or names alone. Attila’s inadvertent heroism and affectionate nature ultimately highlight that true strength lies in compassion and that heroism can manifest in the most unexpected ways.

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