Tag Archives: untouchable

A Beaten Dog

Charat Singh’s generous promise had called forth that trait of servility in Bakha which he had inherited from his forefathers, the weakness of the down-trodden, the helplessness of the poor and the indigent, suddenly receiving help, the passive contentment of the bottom dog suddenly illuminated by the prospect of fulfillment of a secret and long-cherished desire. He saluted his benefactor and bent down to his work again. (17)

This not the only time at the start of the novel where we see the conditioned response of those with nothing in response to those who seem to have it all.  Even Bakha, described as rebellious, can not deny this reaction and isn’t even aware of it.

Authorial Perspective on the Father in Untouchable

“Then he frowned in the gruff man of a man who was really good and kind at heart, but who knew he was weak and infirm and so bullied his children, to preserve his authority, lest he should be repudiated by them, refused and rejected as the difficult old rubbish he was.” (31)

Anand, Mulk Raj. Untouchable. London, England: Penguin, 1986. Print.

Unclear authorial perspective – is he actually good and kind at heart, or is he difficult old rubbish?

Bakha’s unconsciously working for his benefit

“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.

Buying sweets

“The confectioner smiled faintly at the crudeness of the sweeper’s taste, for jalebis are rather coarse stuff and no one save a greedy low-caste man would ever buy four annas’ worth of jalebis. But he was a shopkeeper. He affected a casual manner and picking up his scales abruptly, began to put the sweets in one pan against bits of stone and some black, round iron weights which he threw into the other. The alacrity with which he lifted the little string attached to the middle of the rod, balanced the scales for the shortest possible space of time and threw the sweets into a piece torn off an old Daily Mail, was as amazing as it was baffling to poor Bakha, who knew he had been cheated, but dared not complain. He caught the jalebis which the cconfectioner threw at him like a cricket ball, placed four nickel coins on the shoe-board for the confectioner’s assistant who stood ready to splash some water on them, and he walked away embarassed, yet happy.”

Anand, Mulk Raj. Untouchable. 36-37. London, England: Penguin, 1986. Print.

Reactions from sensations

“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.

Posh, Posh

“Posh, posh, sweeper coming!”

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

Bakha’s repeated phrase, his warning call, gives him a strange power to part a crowd of people with, like Moses parting the red sea. Being “untouchable” gives him undesirable powers like parting a sea of people due to disgust. Despite this, Bakha still seems to show an inspiring love of life.

Sohini’s Structured Emotions

“Sohini was a bit frightened at first and grew pale, but she kept intensely still and avoiding the shock, subsided into a listless apathy. As she looked away, however, and cast her eyes to the blue heavens overhead, she felt a sort of dreariness, a pain, which, though she accepted it resignedly, brought a hurtfulness with it. Sad and wistful, she heaved a soft sigh and felt something in her heart asking for mercy. The sun overhead shot down bright arrows of heat, and inspired a feeling of the passing of time, a feeling that made her forget the unsolicited quarrel with Gulabo, but cast over her the miserable, soul-harrowing shadow of the vision of her brother waiting for her at home, thirst after the morning’s toil, dying for a cup of tea. And yet no caste Hindu seemed to be near.”

Anand, Mulk Raj. Untouchable. New York: Penguin Group, 2014. 26. Print.

Like Faulkner rarely talking about the river as a river, Anand stretches the painful experience of frustration and guilt. It is interesting how that “apathy” is simply expressed in word while the true suffering is analyzed further. Sohini stays still and waits as the sun and the sky are moving, telling her that time is moving and nothing is getting done. Instead of impatience, a feeling that comes across as selfish, guilt takes its place and defines Sohini for what she is and what she will accept.

An overwhelming desire

“And he had soon become possessed with an overwhelming desire to live their life. He had been told they were sahibs, superior people.” (11)

Anand, Mulk Raj. Untouchable. England: Penguin. 1940. Print.

‘An overwhelming desire’ really struck me as a moment in the beginning of the story that set up how the rest of the novel would go. The desire to be somebody else is a theme that this character shares, as well as something that readers can relate to.