The Chaplain’s wife thought this a profitable time to let her know the real state of affairs – that the Englishman had only promised his love to keep her quiet – that he had never meant anything, and that it was wrong and improper of Lispeth to think of marriage with an Englishman, who was of a superior clay, besides being promised in marriage to a girl of his own people. (pp. 10-11)In the end, the situation is made clear. The girl cannot aspire to marry the representative of a superior race, though, as a matter of fact, the term race is not itself used. In its place, clay is utilized, i.e. the clay God shaped man and woman with. The idea of a human creation in different degrees of importance is, by and large, the representation of the ideas expressed by social Darwinism, as well as one of the main justifications for the English presence in India. Furthermore, the girl is told that the words spoken by the Englishman have no value as “he had never meant anything” (p. 10).
“How can what he and you said be untrue?” asked Lispeth.The silence of the woman is not an admission of guilt: it is the expression of the attitude of an adult who regards it as absurd to give a child explanations which they won’t understand. The English woman, facing the Indian woman, averts in silence the confrontation with the truth. Lispeth, silent in her turn, leaves the Mission to come back attired as a women of her tribe. She has stripped herself of the garments which were the most obvious external symbol of the old Christian world she had belonged to for so long. Now the girl is free to return to her origins, free to be herself and born to a new life:
“We said it as an excuse to keep you quiet, child,” said the Chaplain’s wife.
“Then you have lied to me,” said Lispeth, “you and he?”
The Chaplain’s wife bowed her head, and said nothing. (p. 11)
“I am going back to my own people,” said she. “You have killed Lispeth. There is only left old Jadéh’s daughter – the daughter of a pahari and the servant of Tarka Devi. You are all liars, you English.” (p. 11)The lies of the English have killed Lispeth. The very name, Lispeth, itself proves to be only a lie, as it should be Elizabeth, but never is. At the same time, the girl can no longer be what she used to be, christened with a name imposed by the same liars who have deprived her of it by killing her. There is only left Jadéh’s daughter, whose real name has never been revealed. The girl is now a servant to the local goddess of dawn, the most suitable deity for the dawn of her new life. She goes around dressed in the “infamously dirty” (p. 11) robes of her own people. She goes back among her peers. “She took to her own unclean people savagely, as if to make up the arrears of the life she had stepped out of” (p. 11). Once again, the negative connotations of these lines must be judged in the light of the irony on the part of the narrator, who thus comments upon the final remark of the Chaplain’s wife:
“There is no law whereby you can account for the vagaries of the heathen,” said the Chaplain’s wife, “and I believe that Lispeth was always at heart an infidel” Seeing she had been taken into the Church of England at the mature age of five weeks, this statement does not do credit to the Chaplain’s wife. (p. 11)It has been said that language is the instrument the two women use to define their personal clash of civilizations.
a) for a Christian, it refers to a Muslim;Etymologically, infidel is related to fides, to the idea of religious faith and to whatever involves not having faith. Even though the two terms, heathen and infidel, may be considered as synonyms, Kipling uses them according to a well-defined pattern, and Lispeth is associated with paganism according to the English usage of the time, which Kipling does not entirely subscribe to. The passages in the story where the Chaplain’s wife voices her disdain for the pagan side of the girl are ironically presented, so as to, in a way, mitigate this judgment.
b) for a Muslim, it refers to a Christian;
c) for a Jew, it refers to a Genteel.