' The Serpent And The Rope And Muk Raj Anand's Untouched?
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highest moment of his strength, the slave in him asserted itself, and he lapsed back, wild with torture, biting his lips, ruminating his grievances.” (P.65)
Samik Sen in his article The Construction of Subjectivity in Indian English Fiction; A Comparative Study of Raja Rao’s The Serpent and the Rope and Mulk Raj Anand’s Untouchable has interpreted Bakha’s predicament in terms of Jean-Paul Sartre’s existential philosophy:
“Anand’s portrayal of Bakha’s predicament can be interpreted in Sartrean terms as a conflict between his facticity and urge for transcendence. On the one hand, there is Bakha’s social identity as the polluted scavenger whose professional obligation is to clean the dirt of the city and, on the other, Bakha’s awareness of his…show more content… ¬-- there was everybody going to meet the Mahatma, to pay homage to Mohandas Karam Chand Gandhi.” (P.136)
Bakha’s joy knows no bound. Mahatma’s mesmerizing speech has made Bakha hypnotized, spellbound; it heals the wounds and the bruises he has received in his encounter with the high-caste Hindu people .Though he is ignorant of Gandhi’s ideology and standpoint in the nationalist movement, he is well aware that he is the harbinger of radical reformation for the long-oppressed Dalits:
“‘I am an orthodox Hindu and I know that the Hindus are not sinful by nature,’ Bakha heard the Mahatma declaim. ‘ They are sunk in ignorance. All public wells, temples, roads, schools, sanatoriums, must be declared open to the Untouchables. And, if you all profess to love me, give me a direct proof of your love by carrying on propaganda against the observance of untouchability. Do this, but let there be no compulsion or brute force in securing this end. Peaceful persuasion is the only means. Two of the strongest desires that keep me in the flesh are the emancipation of the Untouchables and the protection of the cow. When these two desires are fulfilled there is swaraj, and therein lies my soul’s deliverance. May God give you strength to work out your soul’s salvation to the…show more content… .…..Each word of the concluding passage seemed to him to echo as deep and intense a feeling of horror and indignation as his own at the distinction which the caste Hindus made between themselves and the Untouchables. The Mahatma seemed to have touched the most intimate corner of his soul the most intimate corner of his soul (P.149)
Inspite of Mahatma’s inspired harangue, conflicting questions come across Bakha’s mind. Mahatma’s direction to the untouchables for purification brings suspicion in him. The conflict questions Mahatma’s ideological supremacy. Though Bakha is in need of his father’s opinion and suggestion the conflict gives preference to the use of flush system as an appropriate substitute to get rid of stigmatization, marginalization and deprivation of self and identity.
“‘They claim to be Hindus. They read the scriptures. If, therefore, the Hindus oppress them, they should understand that the fault does not lie in the Hindu religion, but in those who profess it. In order to emancipate themselves they have to purify themselves. They have to rid themselves of evil habits, like drinking liquor and eating carrion’
But now, now the Mahatma is blaming us, Bakha felt. ‘That is not fair!’ He wanted to forget the last passages that he had heard.”