The “Hanger-On”

Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, “An Indian Citizen” (1968)
  • Lilian R. Furst


“ ‘Most of my friends are Indians,’ ” Dr. Ernst proudly tells Lily, his English neighbor (151). He himself is the titular Indian citizen of Jhabvala’s story, while Lily has lived there a mere three years. In her thirties, she is outspokenly soured, negligent of her appearance and even her hygiene. She had come to the country to follow a young Indian she had met in London who had promised her marriage. Nothing had come of this or of the succeeding relationships so that she is very disillusioned. Her cynicism seems to motivate her mocking negation of Dr. Ernst’s claim to many Indian friends. As he lists a few she interrupts him: “ ‘You call those friends? Why, you’re just their’—she shrugged and said in her careless, rude, English way—‘their hanger—on’ ” (152).


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© Lilian R. Furst 2005

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  • Lilian R. Furst

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