“Not that he shirked work or really liked doing nothing. For, although he didn’t know it, to him work was a sort of intoxication which gave him a glowing health and plenty of easy sleep. So he worked on continuously, incessantly, without stopping for breath, even though the violent exertion of his limbs was making him gasp.”
Anand, Mulk Raj. Untouchable. New York: Penguin Group, 2014. Print. 18.
I found this particular part very interesting as the work that Bakha did functioned as something that gave him glowing health and easy sleep. It says “although he didn’t know it” which means that Bakha did not know it acted like an intoxication however, he continued to do it and not complain about it for he knew it benefitted him in some way (glowing health and easy sleep). I also found it interesting because it’s as if he slept to work hard and then worked hard in order to get easy sleep.
“Then he picked up a long poker and prodded the fire. Quickly it flared up, suddenly illuminating the furnace with its leaping red, gold, and black flames, an angry consuming power, something apart, something detached from the heaps of straw it fed on.”
Anand, Mulk Raj. Untouchable. New York: Penguin Group, 2014. Print. p.20
In this passage the fire seems to be representative of an imperialist nation. The description of “an angry consuming power” would be the view of a colonized people towards the imperialist nation controlling them, such as Bakha’s people towards the Tommies. The duality of the phrase “something detached from the heaps of straw it fed on” is interesting as it could be interpreted as either the fire using the straw as kindling, or the imperialist nation feeding off of the colony it has taken control of.
“A couple of brisk rubs and he felt the blood in his cheeks rising to the high bones under the shadow of his eyes and into the ears which shone red-tipped and transparent at the sides of his head. He felt as he used to do when, on winter Sundays in his childhood, he used to strip himself naked, except for a loincloth, to stand in the sun, and rub mustard oil on his body. Recollecting this he looked up at the sun. He caught the full force of its glare, and was dazed. He stood lost for a moment, confused in the shimmering rays, feeling as though there were nothing but the sun, the sun, the sun, everywhere, in him, on him, before him and behind him.”
Anand, Mulk Raj. Untouchable. New York: Penguin Group, 2014. Print. pp 33-34.As
As seen in other works, such as Woolf, we get a moment here where Bakha has a sensation that leads him to memories and greater sensation that is rich in description.
“He became the humble, oppressed under-dog that he was by birth, afraid of everything, creeping slowly up, in a curiously hesitant, cringing movement”.
Anand, Mulk Raj. Untouchable. New York: Penguin Group, 2014. 42. Print.
In this moment, you see Bakha’s self doubt of his social class and work. Long years of demeaning and menial work have paid the price on him, leaving physical and emotional burdens. The emotional burden is still present, the self-doubt he always had about climbing up higher. He obviously displays hesitance from years of emotional pains.
“Bakha looked up ad tried to assume a grateful expression, He didn’t have to try very hard, for in a second he seemed to have dwarfed himself to the littlest little being on earth, and followed the Havildar noiselessly, His face was hot with the tea, his teeth shone even in their slavish smile, his whole body and mind were tense with admiration and gratitude to his benefactor. ‘What has happened to change my kismet(fate) all of a sudden?’ he asked himself.”
Anand, Mulk Raj. Untouchable. New York: Penguin Group, 2014. Print. 109.
Anand has a way with language. He uses alliteration and foreign language to capture into details the things he wants to portray. The mixture of the foreign language keeps the readers aware of the literary background and the culture behind the texts. Also he uses alliteration such as “littlest little”, “slavish smile”, “tea, his teeth” to emphasize the depth of the images he wants to portray.
“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.” (Anand 20).
Anand, Mulk Raj. Untouchable. England: Penguin. 1940. Print.
This small passage stood out because this book often takes time to describe how poorly the untouchables are treated and how dirty their living conditions and work are, but here, we are provided with a scene that depicts the actual beauty of the character, in contrast to his lifestyle.
“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 silver-mounted cane in their hands. And he had soon become possessed with an overwhelming desire to live their life. He had been told they were sahibs, superior people. He had felt that to put on their clothes made one a sahib too. So he tried to copy them in everything, to copy them as well as he could in the exigencies of his peculiarly Indian circumstances. He had begged one of Tommy for the gift of a pair of trousers…”
Anand, Mulk Raj. Untouchable. New York: Penguin Group, 2014. 11. Print.
As I read the novel, I kept referring back to the beginning because it reveals Bhaka’s true heart and desire to be accepted. Instead of being recognized as one of the “lower members” of the caste system, he longs to be one of the “sahibs” as he wants to dress like them, sleep like them, and eat like them. Whenever he describes his life as one who just cleans toilets and is “untouchable” it shows a hint that he feels miserable and that he desires to live differently away from the caste system that systemizes and singles people out. He doesn’t want to be treated lower class, he wants to be as equal as the superior people, the “sahibs.”