Like the title of his previous novel Untouchable, "coolie" is a derogatory word. It refers to manual laborers and slaves particularly from India and, in the twentieth century, it has also become a racist insult. There are Indian coolies both in India itself and in many other different nations. While their physical strength and cheap labor is much needed, their presence is often looked down on. Thus, the title of the novel introduces the theme of exploitation and lack of recognition for jobs that sustain the capitalist system. Contrary to the general perception of the coolie as a nondescript and anonymous entity, the title also makes clear that this figure is the protagonist of the novel and as such endowed of a definite identity and feelings.