A soldier in the Pakistani army, Bashir sings the song, “Where did you spend the night, my love, my moon?” Subedar Himmat Khan, fellow soldier, turns the song into an accusation of treachery against Jhun Jhun. Bashir is the soldier who reads the sign around Jhun Jhun’s neck that gives the dog’s name as written by the Indian army. Bashir is also called Bashirey.
Jhun Jhun is a dog, trusting and very friendly. Unable to grasp the hatred between the Pakistani and Indian soldiers, Jhun Jhun greets both with equal enthusiasm. Jhun Jhun, perhaps demonstrating more wisdom than the men, treats them not as Indian and Pakistani, but as humans. Since the men have decided, however, that they are different, they expect the dog to choose sides.
In his innocence, Jhun Jhun represents the refugees and other victims of the partition of India. His death is a reflection of their deaths; even though his death is in reality senseless, the soldiers treat it as if it belongs to a cause. Subedar Himmat Khan of the Pakistani army says that Jhun Jhun has been “martyred” because he was killed by a member of the Indian army.
Subedar Himmat Khan
As a member of the Pakistani army, Subedar Himmat Khan watches over the Tithwal sector in India in an almost possessive way. He has a large mustache that he twirls, perhaps demonstrating his vanity. With his fixation on what is Pakistani and what is Indian, Subedar Himmat Khan represents unreasoning divisiveness and hatred. He sends Jhun Jhun into the enemy camp, refusing to let him come back. By firing at the dog, Subedar Himmat Khan means to scare him. He thinks that Jhun Jhun’s terror is amusing and does not allow him to return even when the dog is injured.
Subedar Himmat Khan demonstrates the disregard for life that comes with blindly following a cause.
The youngest of the Indian soldiers, Banta Singh has a sweet voice. He sings a lovelorn verse that inspires sadness in the others. Banta Singh is also the soldier who finds Jhun Jhun in the bushes and gives him a name. He does not see the dog as an enemy, nor does he wish to make the dog take sides; he sees the dog as a’ ‘poor refugee.” He represents a viewpoint that is more rational than that of his fellow soldier, Jamadar Harnam Singh, who wants to make the dog a point of contention between the two armies.
A member of the Indian army, Ganda Singh is the first to be awakened by Jamadar Harnam Singh, who is on night watch. He, along with the other soldiers, is affected by the melancholy words of Jamadar Harnam Singh’s song.
Jamadar Harnam Singh
A member of the Indian army, Jamadar Harnam Singh is the first character introduced in the story. He is on night watch and wakes the others. As he lies down, he sings a sentimental song. In some ways, he serves as a counterpoint to Bashir, the soldier in the Pakistani army who also sings a song. With his Punjabi folk song, Jamadar Harnam Singh underscores the similarities between the groups and the futility of their fight. But he also represents fanaticism when, before feeding Jhun Jhun a cracker, he demands to know if the dog is an Indian.
Jamadar Harnam Singh seems to lack compassion. He is the one who, for sport, shoots and injures Jhun Jhun. He is also the one who kills Jhun Jhun and then says that Jhun Jhun has “died a dog’s death.”
Carol Ullmann (Editor) Short Stories for Students: Presenting Analysis, Context & Criticism on Commonly Studied Short Stories, Volume 15, Saadat Hasan Manto, Published by Gale, 2002.