The Boy Who Broke the Bank Summary


ICSE Class 9 English The Boy Who Broke the Bank Summary, Theme, Character Sketch along with difficult word meanings from Treasure Chest Book


The Boy Who Broke the Bank Class 9 ICSE– Are you looking for Theme, Summary and Lesson Explanation for ICSE Class 9 English Lesson The Boy Who Broke the Bank from Treasure Chest (A Collection of ICSE Poems and Short Stories) book. Get Summary, Theme, Character Sketch along with difficult word meanings.


The Boy Who Broke the Bank Class 9 ICSE English 

By Ruskin Bond




Introduction to The Boy Who Broke the Bank

The Boy Who Broke the Bank is a humorous story published in 1988 in the compilation Night Train at Deoli and Other Stories by Ruskin Bond. 

The story is about Nathu, a young sweeper boy who works at the Pipalnagar Bank, who is discontent about his pending salary. The tale unfolds in a small Indian town and promises a humorous look at how a rumour can cause chaos. The story deals with the harm done by spreading of rumours to people and institutions. 


Themes of the Lesson The Boy Who Broke the Bank

The primary themes of the lesson ‘The Boy Who Broke the Bank’ by Ruskin Bond are-

  1. The Dangers of Rumors
  2. Appearances vs. Reality
  3. Exploitation of the Poor


The Dangers of Rumors

In the story, it can be seen how rumours can lead to a disaster. A rumour is some information that circulates among people without any verification of the source or truth about that piece of information. People pass on rumours and with each retelling, the rumour gets more colourful with untruths. 

In the story, Mrs. Bhushan and Mrs. Srivastava, having exhausted all other topics of discussion, turn to the topic of the bank not paying its employees. The bank emptying the savings reserve of the people becomes a hot topic. Then, the focus shifts from the sweeper-boy not being paid his wages to the bank not having enough money to finally the bank being on the verge of collapse. Nathu’s comment about the bank being short of cash is a simple observation. But as it gets retold throughout the town, it transforms into a rumour of the bank being on the verge of a collapse. The townspeople readily believe the rumour, even though there’s no concrete evidence. The rumour creates panic and distrust among the townspeople. People who have put their money in the bank suddenly fear losing it all.


Appearances vs. Reality

Townsfolk believe the rumour that the bank was collapsing and its owner absconding. But the bank was doing well and its owner was on a luxury vacation. 

Ganpat, the beggar had crooked legs but was suddenly able to use his legs and run to the bank when he learned that the bank was on the verge of collapse. Old Ganpat had been lying to those who gave him alms. 


Exploitation of the Poor

The story begins with Nathuram, a poor sweeper-boy who is unhappy as he did not get an increment of two rupees. To add to his misery, he has not been paid his wages despite it being the twentieth of the month. Nathu’s grumbling goes unheard by the bank owner, Seth Govind Ram. Nathuram is frustrated but all he can do is raise dust, bang his pan and grumble to show his angst. 


The Boy Who Broke the Bank Summary


Plot Summary (Storyline)


1. Nathu, a sweeper-boy , has not been paid his salary.
2. Nathu’s friend Sitaram told Mrs. Srivastava that the bank was not paying Nathu so he is leaving the bank.
3. Mrs. Srivastava told her friend Mrs. Bhushan that the bank could not pay its employees.
4. Mrs. Bhushan told Mr. Bhushan that the bank was about to go bankrupt. 
5. Mr. Bhushan told Deep Chand, the barber whose customer jumped up and ran. 
6. He tried calling Seth from the general merchant’s phone but could not contact him as Seth was holidaying in Kashmir.
7. The news of bankruptcy and Seth Govind Ram’s escape spread through the town. 
8. Everyone rushed to withdraw cash from the bank. 
9. When the bank could not pay cash to all its clients, they resorted to shouting and throwing stones.
10. The next day Nathu was annoyed to clean the mess outside the bank.
11. Sitaram told Nathu about the bank’s collapse.
12. Nathu was confused and wondered how the bank could collapse.


Summary of the Story

The story begins with Nathu, a sweeper who is angrily sweeping the steps of the Pipalnagar Bank. The bank is owned by a local rich man Seth Govind Ram. The washerman’s son, Sitaram, on his way to deliver freshly ironed clothes inquires about the cause of Nathu’s discontentment. Nathu had asked for a raise but he neither got the raise nor his salary for the month, it was the twentieth of the month and he has still not received his salary. He intends to quit his job at the bank once he receives his salary.

Sitaram continues on his way promising to look out for a job for Nathu. Sitaram meets Mrs. Srivastava at the fourth home of his round. He hears her mention that she is in need of a sweeper. Sitaram sees it as an opportunity for his friend. He recommends Nathu, adding that the bank was not giving him his salary so he wanted to quit the job.

Mrs. Srivastava felt that the bank was not paying any of its employees. After instructing her maid and the cook, she heads to the market to check out the cloth shops and purchase cloth. She meets her friend Mrs. Bhushan under a large tamarind tree at one end of the market. After exhausting all topics of discussion such as hot weather and the cloth that she had purchased, she tells Mrs. Bhushan that the bank does not have money to pay its employees. She has come to know of this from the sweeper. This part of the conversation immediately catches Mrs. Bhushan’s attention. She concludes that if the sweeper is not getting his salary, other employees too must not be getting paid. She rushes to look for her husband to share this news.

She finds her husband chatting with Kamal Kishore, the photography shop’s owner. She tells him that the Pipalnagar bank is about to go bankrupt as it has stopped paying its employees. Kamal Kishore is not perturbed as he did not have money in the bank. His neighbour, Deep Chand who was a barber had an account at the bank. So Kamal Kishore rushes to tell Deep Chand to withdraw his money from the bank. 


Deep Chand was cutting the hair of an elderly gentleman who gets up mid way of his haircut as soon as he hears the news. He rushes to the general merchant’s store to call up Seth Govind Ram.

The Seth was holidaying in Kashmir so he could not be contacted. The gentleman forms an opinion that the Seth’s absence was his flight to avoid the penalties of his bank going bankrupt. The old gentleman thus, tries to verify the rumour. This gives confirmation of the rumour and gives it validity and then it spreads throughout the bazaar-the customers, the betel-seller, the tailor, the free vendor, the jeweller and the beggar. Here the narrator mentions the beggar who is known to be lame, stands up and sprints towards the bank to withdraw his savings of one thousand rupees which was a handsome sum.

The town has never before faced any crisis-natural or man-made. So the crashing of the bank excited all its residents. Those who have money rush to withdraw it, others are glad that they didn’t have money in the bank. Everyone is aware of the luxurious lifestyle of the owner leading to many stories behind the reasons for the collapse of the bank. Rumours such as the Seth fleeing the state, the Seth fleeing the country and the Seth hiding in the town were doing rounds. One said Seth hanged himself and another added that the sweeper-boy found him.

By noon the bank had finished all its cash reserves. They could get more cash but it would take time. Moreover the owner is not contactable to add to the woes of the bank manager. The bank manager tries to placate the irritated customers but nobody is willing to listen to him. They start shouting. Then they start throwing stones and rubbish at the bank. The next day, the sweeper, unaware of the collapse of the bank, is more irritated by the glass, stones and rubbish that he has to sweep. His friend, Sitaram tells him that the bank has collapsed and he would have to look for a new job. Despite this the sweeper-boy sweeps the bank’s steps clean and decides to wait for the manager to arrive. While waiting, he innocently wonders what could’ve caused the bank to collapse. This is a mystery for him. 


Setting of the Lesson The Boy Who Broke the Bank


The story “The Boy Who Broke the Bank” by Ruskin Bond unfolds in a fictional small town in India called Pipalnagar. The story is about a rumour that led to the collapse of a bank, the author has set the story in such a way that a reader feels like walking through the village accompanying every person who spreads the rumour. 

The bank is shown as an important instrument of financial transactions as it was the only bank in Pipalnagar, the other closest bank being thirty miles away. The Pipalnagar market or bazaar, is commonly referred to as the hub of the town. Despite the heat, most of the people followed their routine of going there to chat up. There was a large and shady tamarind tree at one end of the bazaar, which provided shade as well as a meeting point for the townsfolk.


Title Analysis of the Lesson The Boy Who Broke the Bank


The Boy Who Broke the Bank is an appropriate title for the story. The story revolves around Nathu, a sweeper-boy who is discontent as he did not receive his salary despite being the twentieth of the month. He complains about his situation to Sitaram, the washerman’s boy, who in an attempt to get a job for Nathu, tells Mrs. Srivastava that the bank is not paying its employees. Mrs. Srivastava tells Mrs. Bhushan. Mrs. Bhushan tells Mr. Bhushan. With each retelling, the rumour takes a more serious turn- from the bank not giving Nathuram his salary to the bank being on the verge of collapse and the bank owner absconding. 

One simple complaint of Nathuram led to the townsfolk rushing to withdraw their funds from the bank.

Hence, the title of the story is apt as Nathuram indirectly caused the collapse of the bank, and didn’t even know about it. 

Additionally, the title might also be considered a bit misleading.  Nathu doesn’t deliberately break the bank, but his actions set off a chain of events that lead to the chaos.


Characters in  the Lesson The Boy Who Broke the Bank

  1. Nathuram

Nathu is the main character in Ruskin Bond’s story “The Boy Who Broke the Bank.” He’s a young sweeper boy who works at the Pipalnagar Bank. Nathu isn’t happy with his job. He’s tired of cleaning the bank and especially frustrated because they haven’t paid him for over a month. Also, the people at the bank had not paid heed to his request for a salary increment. This makes him grumpy, and the story shows this through his careless sweeping and loud banging of his dustpan.

Nathu has a good friend Sitaram, the washerman’s son. Sitaram notices Nathu’s unhappiness and tries to find him a new job. 

The story gets interesting because of Nathu’s innocent complaint. When Nathu grumbles about his pay, it sets off a chain reaction of rumours that the bank is broke. Even though Nathu has nothing to do with spreading the rumour, it all starts with his frustration! In the end, the rumour Nathu started unintentionally causes the bank to collapse.


  1. Sitaram

Sitaram is the son of the town washerman, and his paths often cross with Nathu, the young sweeper boy at the Pipalnagar Bank. Sitaram seems to be a friendly and observant guy. He notices Nathu’s unhappiness with his job, especially when Nathu complains about not getting paid.  Instead of ignoring it, Sitaram offers support. He tells Nathu he will search for job opportunities for him, suggesting he wants to help Nathu.


  1. Seth Govind Ram

Seth Govind Ram is the owner of the Pipalnagar Bank, the centre of the story’s chaos. But he isn’t present in Pipalnagar during the story. 

The story portrays him as someone who might not be the most responsible bank owner. Rumours fly about him spending too much money, and throughout the crisis, he’s nowhere to be found. This absence fuels the panic as people question the bank’s stability and rush to withdraw their money.


  1. Mrs. Srivastava

Mrs. Srivastava was a well-to-do resident of Pipalnagar. She needed a sweeper in her house. Sitaram told Mrs. Srivastava about Nathuram. Mrs. Srivastava loved to gossip and her gossiping with Mrs. Bhushan spread the rumour in the whole town. She knew where she would find her friend and after having exhausted all topics of discussion she told Mrs. Bhushan about bank’s sweeper complaining about not being paid by the bank. 


  1. Mr. and Mrs. Bhushan

Mr. and Mrs. Bhushan are a couple. Mrs. Bhushan picks up a rumour that the Pipalnagar Bank can’t pay its employees.  Without checking the facts, she spreads this information to her husband. Mrs. Bhushan seems to believe rumours easily and readily shares them with others, even though they might not be accurate.


Mr. Bhushan gets caught up in the chaos his wife creates. He complains about Mrs. Bhushan’s constant movement while shopping, but then becomes worried himself when he hears the rumour about the bank. 


Narrative Style of The Boy Who Broke the Bank

Third-Person Narration

The story is told from a third-person perspective, but with a focus on Nathu’s thoughts and experiences. This allows readers to connect with Nathu and understand his motivations. The narrator is subjective and does not participate in the plot at any time. 


Writing Styles used in The Boy Who Broke the Bank


The story follows a chronological sequence, where one event follows the other. It starts with the bank sweeper complaining about his salary and ends with the collapse of the bank. 



The story is ironic as the sweeper-boy who set off the chain of events that led to the collapse of the bank has no idea why it happened. He himself doesn’t even own a bank account. 

‘Who would have thought the bank would collapse!’ he said to himself, and looked thoughtfully into the distance. ‘I wonder how it could have happened.. .’



Ruskin Bond’s signature wit is evident throughout the story. He uses subtle irony, situational humour, and witty observations to keep the tone light and humorous, even as the situation escalates.



The author has used simple words to weave images of life in Pipalnagar.


Visual Imagery

And he plodded barefoot along the road, the big bundle of clothes hiding most of his head and shoulders.

Deep Chand who was cutting the hair of an elderly gentleman, was so startled that his hand shook and he nicked his customer’s right ear.


Auditory Imagery

And so they gathered outside, on the steps of the bank shouting ‘Give us our money or we’ll break in !’ and ‘ Fetch the Seth, we know he’s hiding in a safe deposit locker!’


Word Meanings The Boy Who Broke the Bank


walked with heavy steps
used up
a tropical African tree
fall down
imminent: near at hand
moved at high speed



Related Link : ICSE Class 9 English Language and Literature Syllabus 2024-25


Also See  : 

ICSE Class 9 English Summary


ICSE Class 9 English Important Question Answers