Untouchable

“For them I am a sweeper, sweeper — untouchable! Untouchable! Untouchable! That’s the word! Untouchable! I am an Untouchable!”(pg. 100)

Anand, Mulk Raj. Untouchable. Penguin Books, 2014

This pivotal internal moment shows a conscience mind reacting to the unfortunate reality of society and its ways. The repetition of the word “untouchable” shows this built up anger and outrage, Bakha, a worker, has in him. The workers are regarded in such a negative way, stripped of human rights, and this moment when Bakha say this shows him realizing the true severe meaning of an “untouchable”. Before it was something he knew about in his subconscious and to an extent accepted and at this moment after his encounter with the higher caste man, he has a moment of realization where he feels what it is to be an untouchable.

Untouchable

“The outcastes were not allowed to mount the platform surrounding the well, because if they were ever to draw water from it, the Hindus of the three upper castes would consider the water polluted” (22)

Anand, Mulk Raj. Untouchable. Penguin Classics, 1986. Page 22.

Here Anand depicts the worker as reliant. There is also an implication that the working class is filthy, although this implication is made by the Hindus and not Anand himself. Either way, it is shown that for water, a basic necessity, the working class must rely on assistance from upper class citizens

Untouchable

“‘Why aren’t the latrines clean, you rogue of a Bakhe! There is not one fit to go near! I have walked all around! Do you know you are responsible for my piles? I caught the contagion sitting on one of those unclean latrines!'” (9)

What is evident in class distinction from the beginning of the novel is how Bakha’s treatment is evidence of the way social hierachy is met with rigidity: noting how Havildar Charat Singh, the famous hockey player (9) who is addressing Bakha in this quotation, immediately dehumanizes him because he is of a much lower social class. The stratification of groups here is already solidified under the idea that there is a presumed quality of character to go along with the roles; how could Bakha even go about improving his life quality when all the people above him have no qualms with treating him like he deserves his place?

 

Unfairness of the world

They were all so lushly, expensively smothered in syrup, that he knew they certainly could not be cheap, certainly not for him, because the shopkeepers always deceived the sweepers and the poor people, charging them much bigger prices, as if to compensate themselves for the pollution they courted by dealing with outcastes.

The unfairness in this story (particularly this sentence) is overwhelming.

Anand, Mulk Raj. Untouchable. Penguin Classics, pp. 36