What is the theme of Mulk Raj Anand's Untouchable?usru

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poonamvalera | College Teacher | (Level 1) Honors

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Untouchable is Mulk Raj Anand's first novel and it brought to him immense popularity and prestige. This novel shows the realistic picture of society. In this novel Anand has portrayed a picture of untouchable who is sweeper boy. This character is the representative of all down trodden society in pre-independence of India. The protagonist of this novel is the figure of suffering because of his caste. With Bakha, the central character, there are other characters who also suffer because of their lower caste. They live in mud-walled cottages huddled colony in which people are scavengers, the leather-workers, the washer men, the barbers, the water-carriers, the grass-cutters and other outcastes. The lower castes people are suffering because they are by birth outcaste. But Mulk Raj Anand had depicted the hypocrisy of the upper caste people that men like Pt. Kali Nath enjoy the touch of the Harijan girls. Mulk Raj Anand exposes all this hypocrisy and double standard or double dealing. In this novel Bakha is a universal figure to show the oppression, injustice, humiliation to the whole community of the outcastes in India. Bakha symbolizes the exploitation and oppression which has been the fate of untouchables like him. His anguish and humiliation are not of his alone, but the suffering of whole outcastes and underdogs.

Untouchable shows the evil of untouchability in Hindu Society The novel's emphasis on an individual's attempt to emancipate himself from the age old evil of untouchability.Anand is here, concerned with evils of untouchability and the need for radical empathy. He describes the pathetic conditions of the untouchables through the character Bakha, their immitigable hardships and physical and mental agonies almost with the meticulous skill of historical raconteur. In the words of Marlene Fisher:

…Anand's first novel, then, is at one and the same time a fine piece of creative work in terms of its own artistic integrity and an indication of it author's humanistic commitments and future novelistic directions.1

Untouchable is a faithful recordation and a transcription of the pathetic plight of untouchables who are subjected to immitigable social indignities, "only because of their lowly birth." Anand depicted the miserable condition of the small family of Lakha, the jamadar of the sweepers. Anand not only throws light on their object poverty and suffering but also focuses its attention on their low-caste. As K.N. Sinha comments:

…The novel has a tragic beauty of its own. The will to revolt and the sheer impossibility of successful doing so under the circumstances constitute the basic tension in the novel. The hero is simultaneously a rebel and victim. His anguish becomes our sorrow. But Bakha has no tragic status as scapegoat and a victim, tyrannized by a recalcitrant society. He is the lowest of the lowly whose destiny does not suffer any appreciable erocion.2


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