You may claim that Ravi Mangla’s short story “Air Mail” has two protagonists, the two 12 year olds Tommy and Anirudh. However, whether this is correct or there in fact only is one protagonist in this story, may be discussed. Take a quick look at the text and you’ll notice that the author chooses mainly to focus on two characters.
Of this exact reason, you may of course claim that those two boys are the protagonists of the story. However if you actually read the story, you will find that the author in an elegant way tends to keep the focus on the little American boy, Tommy.
While Anirudh is in the centre of action only in certain paragraphs, the author chooses to write a huge part of the story seen through Tommy’s eyes, using a third person limited point of view.
Rather than describing in detail Anirudhs feelings around the letters, the author keeps our focus on the American fifth grader, informing us that he started preparing his letters before class and grew impatient for new letters to arrive.
He is in other words through most of the story in the centre of action, which makes him the protagonist of the story. Seen from my point of view, Anirudh is a character used to represent India and point out the contrast between America and India, not the protagonist of the story.
We get to know the American schoolboy Tommy through indirect characterisation. The author chooses to show us his rather interesting personality through his actions, thoughts, speech and the letters he writes to Anirudh.
The author chooses to give the reader the impression that Tommy is a pretty average boy through most of the story.
He goes to school, is clearly annoyed by his teacher Mr. Peters, eats mashed potatoes (which is a quite common kind of food in America, as well as many European countries.) and asks his parents whenever he wonders about something. In other words he may be claimed to be perfectly average, and quite similar to most 12 year olds, both Norwegians and Americans.