Untouchable by Mulk Raj Anand
"In their struggle to come to terms with their world, what did one or two characters in one of the texts [listed above] discover about themselves and others?"
"Untouchable", a novel by Mulk Raj Anand, is a fictional story depicting the real life struggles that are experienced by the victims of the caste system in India - the outcastes of society. Bakha is one of these unfortunate people; born into the lowest segregation of the lowest caste, he desperately attempts to seek refuge from his inevitable destiny as a sweeper, only to discover throughout a series of revelations that he cannot escape his organised victimisation.
The book begins with an almost too detailed and too accurate a description of the squalid living conditions in which the Untouchables are forced to reside in. Most have come to accept such an unpleasant and unhygienic location as their abode; but Bakha, a pioneer in his own right, is apparently the first individual to see his home, unobstructed by the veil which covers the sight of the majority of those of the exterior castes - a veil created and maintained by those of the upper castes, so that the outcastes actually believe that they are the lowest of society, and therefore sustaining the positions of the higher caste members - , and he feels repulsed by what he observes. He perceives the "brook ... soiled by the dirt and filth of the public latrines"; "the odour of the hides and skins of dead carcases"; "the dung [of various animals] heaped up to be made into fuel cakes"; "the biting, choking pungent fumes". As there is no drainage system in their area, this combined with the rains of passing seasons "made of the quarter a marsh", emanating from it "the most offensive stink"; and in conjunction with "the ramparts of human and animal refuse that lay on the outskirts of this little colony, and the ugliness, the squalor and...