How can I apply  Marxism in "The Cobbler and the Machine" by Mulk Raj Anand ?" From excerpts in the story, where is Marxist theory evident?

1 Answer | Add Yours

akannan's profile pic

Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

One way in which Marxism is evident in Anand's short story is the presence of Marxist stages of economic development.  The premise of the story focusing on a worker, one who works himself to death, is reflective of Marxist ideas regarding wealth and the dehumanization that comes with it.  

One example of Marxist thought is rooted in the story's depiction of the different stages of economic development.  Marx believed that economics underscores all human interactions.  The economic structure that subsumes individuals is a part of this dynamic.  For Marx, capitalism was preceded by the feudal and agrarian stage of economic development.  This is seen in the text when the cobbler is enamored with the idea of the Singer sewing machine.  The awe with which the cobbler speaks of the machine is reflective of the economic stage of development where pre- technological means of consciousness collided with the technological advent of the wealthy:  "I have heard that there is a machine which can do the work of my hand, but I have never seen it.  Ever since I saw the ready- made saddles, reins and collars in the stables of Thakur Mahan Chand, I knew they were made by a defter hand than that of man."  The presence of technology is awe- inspiring, reflective of the pre- technology or agrarian/ cottage industry stage of economic development.

Another aspect of Marxist thought evident in the story was that technology was in the domain of the wealthy.  The cobbler says that he is not worthy of such technology because he is "an outcast" who could not "presume to eat like the Sahibs and be like them."  For Marx, technology is a means for the wealthy to maintain power and control over the poor.  Marx makes the argument that technology ensures individuals are kept in stratified forms of being.  The appropriation of technology by the wealthy enables them to maintain their control.  The cobbler reaffirms this with his self- description as an outsider who could never hope to "sit at a chair, sewing shoes," using technology that the wealthy themselves possess.  The perception of technology residing in the domain of those who own the means of production is a Marxist idea that is evident in the Anand story.

Sources:

We’ve answered 318,974 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question