Untouchable

“The outcastes’ colony was a group of mud-walled houses that clustered together in two rows, under the shadow both of the town and the cantonment, but outside their boundaries and separate from them. There lived the scavengers, the leather-workers, the washermen, the barbers, the water-carriers, the grass cutters and other outcastes from Hindu society . . . altogether the ramparts of human and animal refuse that lay on the outskirts of this little colony, and the ugliness, the squalor and the misery which lay within it, made it an ‘uncongenital’ place to live in.”

Anand, Mulk Raj. Untouchable. Penguin Books, 2014, p. 3.

Right at the opening of the novel, Anand describes the place where workers live and stresses that their dwellings keep them separate from the town and the cantonment. Also, the place is described as filthy and as an “‘uncongenital’ place to live in.” He also calls the workers “outcastes” and mentions that they form an “outcastes’ colony,” as if they were part of a subhuman group, pointing toward a difference in classes and marginalization of the workers. This paragraph positions the workers as inferior, rendering the labor of the workers as unfruitful since, no matter how much and how hard they work, they are incapable of any social mobility due to existing social barriers.