The Room On The Roof | Ruskin Bond | Book Review | Plot, Characters And Background

Vidisha Pandey
Sep 23, 2019   •  796 views


A seventeen year old boy, a teenager himself picks up a pen, weaves a story of another teenage boy-Rusty, who is an orphaned anglo-indian kid.

Yes, we are referring to the very famous British Indian writer- Ruskin Bond.

The Room on the roof is his first formal literary work and of course, one of his much-acclaimed works!


Ruskin Bond

Source: India Today

Protagonist and Plot:


Book Cover


Rusty, is the main character- who lives in Dehra, Uttarakhand. The book mainly tries to portray the plight of this kid who is fighting with his own conflicts in addition to the blind efforts that he is putting in for the fact that he has to be and act a certain way, all to just fit in the standards of society and more certainly, in those of his Guardian- Mr John Harrison.

This article is an overview of the book- The Room on the Roof, under the different heads that follow.

Personality traits

Since, Rusty is just a teenager, a lot of the traits reflected in his character are mainly situationist. He has been primarily under the influence of his guardian Mr. Harrison, until he meets Somi and Ranbir.

Side Characters

- around this semi-autobiographical account of Rusty include:

his friends- Somi and Ranbir, his neighbor- Kishen, Mrs Meena Kapoor- Kishen's mother, etc.

Mr John Harrison

This man, has always seemed to have a negative bias for India and its cultures, which of course got kindled from the fact that India got relieved from the rule of the british, pretty close in time, to when this story had come up.

He would constantly seek to groom Rusty as an Englishman with English values and ettiquettes, which is oxymoronic in itself, since they were, or rather John had been repelling the traditions and the sensibilities of a country that he was living in!

Rusty was evidently suffocated by the restrictions set up on any of his actions that could ever be in favour of India, which resulted in the least exposure he had to the land he was living on, the city of Dehra, as Ruskin Bond likes to call it.

Somi and Ranbir

It was only when one day Rusty followed his heart and went with his insticts, that he went on to explore the streets of Dehra and found a light of hope, a hope for a change when he met Somi and Ranbir, who were quick enough to form a friendly connection with Rusty.

Rusty had just started to take a breath of fresh air, when he got violently beaten by Harrison, after being caught masked in the colours of Holi from the celebration he had with his newly made friends.

This was obviously, very frustrating for Rusty.

He began to realize that his true happiness lied in the adventures that he did with his friends. This was when he decided break the shackles of abidance to Mr John Harrison.


This was the beginning of a new episode in Rusty's dull life. He started tutoring another kid in his neighbourhood, Kishen, for English. He was given a little Room on the Roof of Kishen's House by Kishen's Parents. This was hence a turning point for Rusty, as this was the first time he had life in his control and hence felt a sense of freedom!

Mrs Meena Kapoor

Kishen's father or Mr Kapoor, was an alcoholic. When Rusty began to live with this family, he felt himself being strangely drawn towards Mrs Kapoor, in a rather Romantic way. To his surprise, Mrs Kapoor seemed to have reflected similar feelings for Rusty.

This was Rusty's experience of First love!

Twists in the story

It is quite commendable how the 17 year old Ruskin Bond was able to understand the complicated scenarios that an Individual is prone to be dumped into!

A lot of Bond's works underline the essence of a memoir.

Ruskin was around 7 or 8 when his parents Edith Clarke and Aubrey Alexander bond-got seperated and 10 when his father passed away.

He thus seems to have a deep understanding of people and relationships.

This characteristic of Bond's works is also showcased in the twists exhibited through the storyline of "The Room on the Roof", when Mrs Meena Kapoor dies in a vehicle accident. This incident in the story reflects the thoughts of the author's when his own father passed away!

Another detail of the story that reflects on the life of Ruskin Bond, is when Kishen's alcoholic father re- marries soon after the death of his first wife. This incidence is partly analogous to the remarriage of the author's own mother, with a Hindu man, Hari!

Ruskin's interpretation of life, is intense and terrific, indeed. The portrayal of Kishen who transitioned into a thief as well as somebody who turned over psychologically, when he could not bear the demise of his mother, could only be done by a writer with a very deep understanding of life.

Period in which the story was set

The story is set in the time when India just became independent from the British. Ruskin spent a long time of his life in Dehradun and other places- mostly hill stations, which also find mention in - The Room on the Roof!


A picture of the top view of Mussouri, Dehradun


The various scenarios and imageries shown throughout the story hence, work their best to show the distinction between, the olden and the modern days. The story is predominantly built in the light of the days of yesterday, having little but strong contrast drawn, with respect to the modern times!

" If there's one name that is synonymous with Children's Literature in India, then it's Ruskin Bond.”

- Daily Mail

The Room on the Roof ranks 2nd in the 10 best short stories by Ruskin Bond, in an article written for-

The Times of India

" it has a lot of different emotions and I like the way Ruskin Bond has written it: a simple story made into such a touching and sad book. "

- Adya@Youngbookreporters

for The Guardian

Goodreads: 4.1/5

My Conclusion:

"As expressed in a lot of reviews and critical reception on- The Room on the Roof, it is indeed a very heart warming composition.

It just has the right amount of Maturity, Innocence, colour and contrast! "

Blog Banner Courtesy: Search of Life



Profile of Arvind Pandey
Arvind Pandey  •  51w  •  Reply
Very well written review of the book, which was also a part of the curriculum in my high school. In a way it's more of a summary of the book rather than a review. For a more fictional novel, this would have killed the interest in reading the book. However, The Room on the Roof is from an altogether different genre and this review would and should generate greater interest in reading the book.
Profile of Vidisha Pandey
Vidisha Pandey  •  51w  •  Reply
Thank you! I'll keep in mind to not give too many insides or spoilers from the book in further reviews, reader's enthusiasm is very important to be taken care of, indeed! It is a great story and rather apt, to be a part of a school's curriculum and I hope it reaches more and more people. This was the first ever Ruskin Bond story that I read, when I was around 8 or 9, hence it was a pleasure for me to write a review for this one...Thank you so much, again for reading and the humble feedback!😊