Skip to main content

Book Review: Untouchable by Mulk Raj Anand

The novel – Untouchable needs no introduction for an Indian reader because its background is well known to him.  The very title is a telltale.                       

Humanism, which is the key concept of his novels like Untouchable and Coolie, reveals man’s essential dignity and nobility. According to this approach to man – man is the creative source of infinite possibilities. Mr. Anand is a humanist who reveals the essential dignity of the underdogs of Indian society. Anand in all his novels emphasizes the fact that nobility and dignity are not the monopoly of the rich. The poor have their greatness, honour as well as the richness. This humanism is the central theme of his novels. His humanism justifies that man is man, be he a sweeper, a prince or a coolie.

The novel Untouchable has the confrontation between tradition and modernity. Anand realized that much in the Indian tradition was obsolete and meaningless. Tradition might have its utility when it began as a new practice. But in course of time, it lost its purpose and became an obstacle to progress.
Anand suggests that modern methods be adopted and the evils would die a natural death. For example untouchability, originated in the past, then there was need of it, but continue to present, when it is doing so much damage to the society. It is against the spirit of democracy. In modern perspective Gandhiji made the greatest possible efforts to eradicate it and gave the title to them – Harijans, the servant of the God. Anand also pained to see that even the basic rights of man are denied to them and out of sympathy for the oppressed – the down trodden – that Anand turned to fight a battle for them.

In the novel Untouhable, Anand not only presents the problem of untouchability but also exposes injustices and inhuman treatment, the degrading humiliation and cruelty. In fact, in the thirties, Indian society was in a state of transition, there was a clash between tradition and modernity and this transition is one of the themes of the novel. The theme of the novel has been studied through the character of Bakha who is caught between two worlds. Though the pulls of modernity were strong upon him, he could not break tradition. There is clash inside the platform of his souls. He becomes a representative of a society passing through transition. He is not ready to accept his traditional place in the society. Hot angers burns within him. He is purring with the desire to change the existing order of exploitation and injustice but, the severity of centuries, which is ingrained in him, paralyses him even when he vaguely thinks of retaliation. Accidentally, when he touches a man and pollutes him in so called way, a crowd gathers around him to beat him.

On the other side of the picture, Bakha’s father and brother harbor no resentment against oppression and injustice. They are the representatives of forces of tradition, orthodoxy and conservatism, whereas Bakha stands for social change, for transition from the old to new in fact he has caught the glamour of the Whiteman’s life. He wants to be a White Sahib.

The writer has depicted an overall grip on the problem of untouchability. In nutshell it can be stated that the theme of untouchability is very realistic and fit for naturalistic fiction. The high point of the novel is when Gandhi speaks out against untouchability, but praised the humble origin of the untouchable making him a man of God and denouncing those who believe that because of his caste a man is polluted and can pollute others.


Popular posts from this blog

Poem Summary: Where The Mind Is Without Fear by Rabindranath Tagore

Poem by Rabindranath Tagore: Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high Where knowledge is free Where the world has not been broken up into fragments By narrow domestic walls Where words come out from the depth of truth Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit Where the mind is led forward by thee Into ever-widening thought and action Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake. Short Summary: This poem is written by Rabindranath Tagore during pre-independence days, when India was a colony of the British. The underlying theme of the poem is absolute freedom; the poet wants the citizens of his country to be living in a free state. According to the poem, we see that the poet is expressing his views there should be a country, like where people live without any sort of fear and with pure dignity…they should

Book Review: The Blue Umbrella by Ruskin Bond

Among all Ruskin Bond books, The Blue Umbrella has, so far, gathered immense applaud from readers and critics alike.  This is a short novel, but the kind of moral lessons it teaches to us are simply overwhelming. This is a story of Binya, a poor little girl living with her mother and an elder brother, Bijju, in a small hilly village of Garhwal. One day while herding her two cows back home, she stumbles upon some city people enjoying the picnic in the valley. She is enthralled to see them well-groomed and rich. She craves to be one like them and among many other things of their, a blue frilly umbrella catches her attention. She begins craving for it. On the other hand, the city people get attracted by her innocent beauty and the pendant in her neck. The pendant consists of leopard’s claw – which is considered a mascot widely in the hills. Binya trades her pendant off with the blue umbrella. The blue umbrella is so much beautiful that soon it becomes a topic of conversation fo

Poem Summary: Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Ozymandias is a short poem of fourteen lines written by Percy Bysshe Shelley. The concurrent theme of the poem is that nothing remains intact and same forever in this world. Even the brightest of metal, one day decays with passage of time. The throne name of Egyptian King Ramesses is Ozymandias. It was his dearest desire to preserve himself forever by building a huge statue that he thought would never tumble down. Stanza 1: I met a traveller from an antique land Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand, Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown, And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command, Tell that its sculptor well those passions read Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things, The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed; Summary: The poet narrates the poem through the eyes of a traveler who seems to have come back from a remote and far-away land, referring to Egypt. The traveler r