The River (1951) - Plot Summary Poster



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  • Harriet, now an adult, narrates the story of her coming of age growing up as a British national and a daughter of a jute press manager in the Bengal region of India, they living in the big house on the banks of one of the holy rivers. At the time, she is the eldest of six siblings - five girls and one boy - with another on the way and with she being significantly older the rest of her siblings. As such, she spends much time with an honorary member of their family, a late teen - not quite an adult - named Valerie, also a British national and the daughter of the jute press owner. Another friend, who recently arrived home from her western schooling, is Melanie, the biracial daughter of British national Mr. John and his then deceased Hindu wife. Both Mr. John and Melanie realize her difficult position, straddling both the Hindi and western cultures. Their small world is shaken up with the arrival of Captain John, Mr. John's cousin and an American ex-military man who has one prosthetic leg the result of his time in the war. He is a somewhat sullen man who is running away from anything that reminds him of his time before his physical disability. Regardless, he has an effect on all three of Harriet, Valerie and Melanie in different ways, that effect which nonetheless tests their friendships. In combination with other things that happen may provide Harriet with a bigger view of life in her coming of age.

  • Three teenage girls are living in Bengal (India) near a big river : Harriet is the oldest child of a big family of English settlers. Valerie is the unique daughter of an American industrialist. Melanie has an American father and an Indian mother. One day, a man arrives. He will be the first love of the three girls.

  • In Bengal, India, the teenager, Harriet, oldest daughter of a British family and her father is the manager of a jute factory. Her mother is pregnant and she has four younger sisters and one little brother. They have a quiet and comfortable life living in a big house nearby the Ganges River. Valerie is the teenage daughter the owner of the jute factory where Harriet's father works and she spends most of her time with Harriet. Melanie is the British-Indian daughter of Harriet's neighbor Mr. John who has just returned from an education in England. When the young American Captain, who lost one of his legs during the war comes to Bengal to visit his cousin Mr. John, the three teenagers fall in love with him.

  • Three adolescent girls growing up in Bengal, India, learn their lessons in life after falling for an older American soldier.


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