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Critical Analysis of Untouchable by Mulk Raj Anand

untouchable by mulk raj anand

CHARACTERS – AT A GLANCE

LAKHA

  • jamadar of Sweepers
  • Father of three children-Sohini (Daughter), Bakha (18 year old son), Rakha (Youngest Son)
  • Lazy and abusive and feel satisfied with his work

BAKHA

  • Protagonist of the story and son of Lakha-an abusive father
  • 18 year old young man working as a sweeper in the British Barracks
  • Does not like sweeping
  • Not revolting against untouchability; but rather believing in gradual change in the lot of the Untouchable.
  • Not believing in the practice of untouchability, Charat Singh-a hockey player, invites him to tea and gifts him a brand new hockey stick.
  • Colonel Hutchinson-a missionary-wants to convert him into Christianity
  • Driven out of the house by father Lakha for his unwillingness to do sweeping
  • Hears the speech of Mahatma against the malpractice of Untouchability and becomes hopeful for a change in the lot of sweepers

SOHINI

  • Daughter of Lakha
  • Young and beautiful
  • Patient and resilient
  • Sexually assaulted by Priest Kalinath

RAKHA

  • Younger son of Lakha
  • Typical son of Outcast parents

Other Characters

  • Bhagwan Das – Hakim or Local Doctor who saved Bakha’s life when he was a child
  • Charat Singh – Hockey Star, a jocular personality who does not believe in Untouchability and invites Bakha to tea. He gifts a brand new hockey stick to him.
  • Chota – One of Bakha’s best friends belonging to a bit higher caste
  • Ram Charan – Another best friend of Bakha belonging to a bit higher caste
  • Pandit Kalinath – A priest of a temple at Bulashah. He sexually assaults Bakha’s young sister Sohini but instead of feeling guilty accuses her of defiling him.
  • Gulabo – A washer woman who is mother of Ram Charan. She is very jealous and does not like Sohini.
  • Colonel Hutchinson – A missionary wanting to convert Bakha into Christianity.
  • Iqbal Sarsar – A poet defending Mahatma and favours Karl Marx’s socialist theory.
  • N. Bashir – An Indian lawyer who studied at Oxford but is critical of Mahatma and Socialism.

STORY AT A GLANCE

The story is all about the malpractice of Untouchability in the British India. A prominent Indian English Writer-Mulk Raj Anand-penned it in 1935 representing India wallowing in this malpractice.

The story is about a low caste family which earns by cleaning latrines. Lakha is the Jamadar of sweepers. He has three children namely Sohini-a young, beautiful girl, Bakha-an 18 year old boy reluctant to do his father’s task, Rakha-the youngest son.

Bakha very unwillingly does the work of sweeping and so he looks forward to a change in the lot of sweepers. Showing his sluggishness towards his duty, he is driven out of the house. He then, hears the speech of Mahatma-a symbolic name of Mahatma Gandhi-. His speech develops in him optimism for societal change in which sweepers would no longer clean the latrines of high castes.