Monthly Archives: November 2013

Societal Roles

“At least so thought Bakha, a young man of eighteen, strong and able-bodied, the son of Lakha, the Jamadar of all the sweepers in the town and the cantonment, and officially in charge of the three rows of public latrines which lined the extremest end of the colony, by the brookside.”

Anand, Mulk Raj. New York, New York: Penguin Books, 1935. Print.

Notes: sentence structure = lots of info separated with commas (states the entire background). Describes in detail what Bakha’s role is in society. Everyone has their own job and tasks they are designated to perform in society. Location seems also very important


‘Go and get me two pieces of coal from the kitchen.’ The boy stood wonder-struck. That a Hindu should entrust him with the job of fetching glowing charcoal in the chilm which he was going to put on his hookah and smoke!

Note: A child so willing to please.

Anand, Mulk Raj. Untouchable. London: Penguin, 1940,  106.

Waking Up in Another World

“A hot liquid trickled down from the corners of his eyes. One of his nostrils seemed to be blocked and he sniffed the air, trying to adjust his breathing to the congested climate of the corner where his face was turned. His throat too seemed to have been caught, for as he inhaled the air it seemed to irritate his trachea uncomfortably. He began to swallow air in order to relieve his nose and throat. But when a breath of air pierced the cavity which was clogged the other became impenetrable. A cough shook the inner tissues of his throat and he spat furiously into the corner where he lay. He leaned his elbow and blew his nose under the carpet on which he lay. Then he fell back, his legs gathered together and shrunken under the thin folds of his blanket, his head buried into his arms. He felt very cold. And he dozed off again” (15).

Mulk Raj Anand, Untouchable, Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics Editions, 1935

Notes: reality of the impoverished, sharp detail, quality of life and self, exterior reality showing truth about society,  effect of describing event of seeming insignificance, gruesome detail

Complications of Caste System

“Ever since he had worked in the British barracks Bakha had been ashamed of the Indian way of performing ablutions, all that gargling and spitting, because he knew the Tommies disliked it… But he himself had been ashamed at the sight of Tommies running naked to their tub baths. ‘Disgraceful,’ he had said to himself…” (Anand 18).

Anand, Mulk Raj. Untouchable. New York, New York: Penguin Books, 1935. Print.

Notes: Bakha is technically lowest in the Caste system, yet is caught in a middle ground because he has spent time with and emulates the English. He cannot be clearly placed in a certain level of class because his language suggests that he thinks of himself separate and higher than his Indian brethren, but is painfully aware that he is not like the English, only “apeing” them.


The Bazaar

“‘Dirty Dog! Son of a bitch! The offspring of a pig!’ he shouted, his temper spluttering on his speech, and the sense behind it, in its mad rush outwards.  ‘I…I’ll have to go-o-o… and get washed-d-d…I…I was going to business and now… now on acount of you, I’ll be late” (46.)

notes: alliteration and repetition of sounds, illness, grime, literally untouchable, causes virulent scene, bazaar, striking

Mulk Raj Anand, Untouchable, Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics Editions, 1935

Realization of a Condition

Like a ray of light shooting through the darkness, the recognition of his position, the significance of his lot dawned upon him. It illuminated the inner chambers of his mind. Everything that had happened to him traced its course up to this light and got the answer. The contempt of those who came to the latrines daily and complained that there weren’t any latrines clean, the sneers of the people in the outcastes’ colony, the abuse of the crowd which had gathered round him this morning. It was all explicable now. A shock of which this was the name had passed through his perceptions, previously numb and torpid, and had sent a quiver into his being, stirred his nerves of sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste, all into a quickening. ‘ I am an Untouchable ! ‘ he said to himself, ‘an Untouchable ! ‘ He repeated the words in his mind, for it was still a bit hazy and he felt afraid it might be immersed in the darkness again. Then, aware of his position, he began to shout aloud the warning word with which he used to announce his approach : ‘ Posh, posh, sweeper coming. ‘ The undertone, ‘ Untouchable, Untouchable, ‘ was in his heart ; the warning shout, ‘ Posh, posh, sweeper coming ! ‘ was in his mouth. (52)

Mulk Raj Anand, Untouchable, Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics Editions, 1935

Notes : Realization of his condition, his social status in the Indian’s society, his identity, his caste. Use of an extended metaphor of light/darkness to represent the realization/ignorance of his identity. Focus on the senses and perceptions. Character abruptly brought back to reality of his condition, endowed with confusion between what he says and what he feels and thinks.

Filthy Nobility

“The blood in Bakha’s veins tingled with the heat as he stood before it. His dark face, round and solid and exquisitely well defined, lit with a queer sort of beauty. The toil of the body had built up for him a very fine physique. It seemed to suit him, to give a homogeneity, a wonderful wholeness to his body, so that you could turn round and say: ‘Here is a man.’ And it seemed to give him a nobility, strangely in contrast with his filthy profession and with the sub-human status to which he was condemned from birth.”

Mulk Raj Anand, “Untouchable,” (New York: Penguin Books, 1930), 20.

Notes:  self-conscious irony, ‘homogeneity’ and ‘wholeness’

Cleanliness in “Untouchable”

“And though his job was dirty he remained comparatively clean. He didn’t even soil his sleeves, handling the commodes, sweeping and scrubbing them. ‘A bit superior to his job’, they always said, ‘not the kind of man who ought to be doing this.’ For he looked intelligent, even sensitive, with a sort of dignity that does not belong to the ordinary scavenger, who is as a rule uncouth and unclean.”

Notes: Repitition of “cleanly” features throughout the novel, caste distinctions, dignity

Anand, Mulk Raj. Untouchable. London: Penguin, 1935, 16.

Strange Reverence

“‘For this man’, he said to himself, ‘I wouldn’t mind being a sweeper all my life. I would do anything for him.'”

Anand, Mulk Raj. Untouchable. London: Penguin Books, 1935. Print.

Notes: Interesting because Bakha has to do terrible work for people like the Havildar but due to his fame Bakha doesn’t mind. The lower class still manages to revere the upper class, despite the fact that the upper class is the reason they have duties like being a sweeper.

some stuff about assimilation

He had had glimpses, during his sojourn there, of the life the Tommies lived, sleeping on strange, low canvas beds covered tightly with blankets, eating eggs, drinking tea and wine in tin mugs, going to parade and then walking down to the bazaar with cigarettes in their mouths and small silvermounted canes in their hands.

Mulk Raj Anand, “Untouchable,” (New York: Penguin Books, 1930), 11.

Notes: It’s very clear that this is being written in a time in India where Western imperialism had a strong influence on Asia. This sentence is describing the results of crossbreeding between these two cultures to create the hybrid that is these assimilated, natural-born Indian citizens.